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We Love You Leeds, We Do: Why Our Fair City is a Thriving Tech Hub

Posted Thursday 08 Dec 2016 in ICS-digital News Industry News by Ann Nguyen

Did you know that Leeds is officially the best city in the UK, maybe even Europe? Yes, we might be writing this blog from a slightly biased angle (we're based in Leeds), but there are many reasons why our great city is a leading light in the tech industry.

Through a combination of investment, local government initiatives, and a community spirit amongst local agencies, Leeds is now a city that's definitely making a mark in the tech world. From digital marketing agencies like ours to incubators and tech hubs like Futurelabs, Leeds is thriving and people are starting to take note.

Forget London; it's all about Leeds

According to a recent report by BusinessCloud, start-ups, graduates and industry stalwarts are now starting to favour Leeds over London. Although the capital will always have a certain allure for international investors, those in the know understand that Leeds is the place to be.

"We spoke to two growing digital companies with plans to open offices in London but, upon reflection, now regard Leeds as a more attractive option," Amy De-Balsi, owner of careers job board Herd, told BusinessCloud.

Why? Well, aside from better house prices (the average is £164,000), a buzzing bar scene (yes, we've sampled it a few times) and Grade II listed buildings like the Round Foundry Media Centre offering a better place to work, the local council is also heavily backing tech.

Thanks to a £3.7million grant from the government, Leeds City Council now has money to spend on start-ups. Instead of using the money for a single scheme, council officials are now calling for companies to step up and ask for help. By submitting an application to the council, businesses can grab a slice of the pie and become part of a tech hub that now boasts around 3,000 companies and more than 10,000 employees.

We're All In This Together

Of course, money and a vision without collaboration can be a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, the old saying "success breeds success" is alive and well in Leeds. With so many tech companies now loving a bit of the "norf", there's plenty of help on your doorstep if you need it. In fact, just a few days ago, we were at Digital North sharing ideas and talking about the future of the industry with like-minded businesses.

When our illustrious leader Matt did a lightning talk at the event, he addressed the issues of digital PR, localisation and expansion which, given the current growth of Leeds' tech sector, was certainly fitting. In fact, Matt's talk at Digital North was another example of how the city is embracing its new status and working in harmony to create something special.

Be Seen in the Scene

Perhaps the best example of this new state of affairs was SearchLeeds 2016. Featuring talks from the likes of BlueGlass and iProspect, the Branded3 event was a chance for companies in the region to meet, greet and share ideas. Offering his thoughts on the event and Leeds as a player in the tech world, iProspect's Pete Coats waxed lyrical about the "scene" that's creating more opportunities for growth both within the region and beyond.

Tired clichés of Yorkshire being home to smoke-churning factories, rolling green hills and people racing whippets wearing flat caps are dead and gone. Leeds is modern. Leeds is vibrant. Leeds is a tech hub. And, more importantly, Leeds is now leading the way when it comes to industry, innovation and everything in between.

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