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Friday 4th November 2016
Leeds is currently experiencing an exciting period of growth, from new shopping centres, to arenas, to new restaurants, there seems to be new projects joining the city daily. 

We’ve explored in earlier blogs how Leeds is becoming quite a hub of activity as far as business is concerned, especially in the tech sector. There are currently over 23,000 digital tech economy jobs in the city. Growth in digital employment in the sector grew by over 7% between 2011 - 2014 and the average salary for tech professionals in Leeds increased by 29% between 2012- 2015.

As many start-ups across Yorkshire and the North reap the benefits of being based in our vibrant city it would seem more and more southern start-ups want a slab of our Yorkshire pudding, including an increasing number of start-ups from the UK’s largest tech hub… London!

Stuart Clarke of the London to Leeds project told the YEP “The costs of growing a startup in London are forcing many startups to look outside the city as increasing office and accommodation costs, plus the higher salaries of additional staff, are making it difficult for them to expand. Around 65 per cent of London startups consider relocation within 12 months of starting up”

Why Leeds?
The prospect of reduced property costs are just one the factors drawing start-ups up north to Leeds…along with the rest, including cheaper employment costs, general reduced overheads, the sheer amount of tech talent being produced by the universities is also a major attraction, giving start-ups settling in the city access to rich, new talent pools.

Start-ups that choose to join the digital community in Leeds won’t be in bad company either. Massive tech suppliers including NHS digital, the DWP, KPMG and Sky betting & gaming have set up bases here. So you know, as the saying goes, if it’s good enough for the likes of them then…why not growing start-up companies?

(We produced an infographic highlighting tech hotspots in the UK, and some of the pull factors attracting tech companies to Leeds and other areas in the north. View it here.)

The community buzz

The tech sector is very much up and coming in Leeds, as a result of this there is a sense of buzz and excitement surrounding the industry with constant innovation developing with events, meet ups and festivals held regularly to bring the digital community together in Leeds, raise awareness and shout about all things that are great about tech in this city.

Including…

Leeds digital festival

In April 2016 the Leeds digital festival was born. The week-long festival saw over 56 events across 28 venues with over 175 speakers. Over 6,000 people attended over the course of the week. The festival welcomed big names in tech across the city to showcase the latest innovation and discussions around coding, information security, data, startups and digital music to name but a few. 2017’s festival is set to be even bigger and better.

Initiatives like…

Tech North

Tech North’s mission is to make sure the northern tech communities have the information, networks, support and inspiration needed to further growth and success we’ve seen in recent months. Tech north have pioneered a number of tech events in Leeds including the Northern Talent and Skills Summit held in March.

Digital jobs fair
Herd digital job board are behind the ground breaking Leeds digital job fair. There have been two fair’s to date and both have been extremely successful. The fair was a great opportunity for Yorkshire based tech companies to showcase their opportunities, and for job seekers to get a feel for what tech opportunities there are available on their door step. The digital job fair is a great initiative in making steps to close the skills gap being felt across the sector at the moment. (Read more here)

The London to Leeds project
This project is headed up by Stuart Clarke (who also master minded Leeds Digital Festival). The aim of the project is to sell the amazing qualities of tech in Leeds (that we’ve covered above) to start-up businesses in London. The team at London to Leeds actively walk potential movers through what they can expect from a move to Leeds and demonstrate what exactly opening a base in Leeds could offer them, making the move as smooth as possible.

It’s easy for us to talk about how great Leeds is because we love it and we’re based here. So who knows maybe we’re biased? 

But you don’t just have to take our word for it...
Successful technology consultancy BYNG started out in London and grew quickly until faced with the problem for growing London companies: how to find staff and the space to grow.

Here’s what they said about taking the plunge and expanding into Leeds, rather than the capital.

"Having a presence in London has been a crucial factor in our steady growth. Being based in the city has afforded us with an abundance of clients and partners (massive thanks to all that are reading this and have helped us out over the years). With growth comes the need to scale your teams and this presents a big challenge to tech agencies like us, that are based in London. A shortage of top-notch tech talent is choking the capital, as agencies, consultancies and companies brawl to find, hire and retain the best staff."

“We looked for alternatives outside of London and settled with Leeds, which also has an abundance of strong tech talent, fuelled by several universities and a good foundation of technology led businesses, including: First Direct, SkyBet, BskyB, Emis, BJSS, TPP, William Hill and Call Credit to name just a few. 

It's a move we're proud of and one we've invested into. We have just exchanged on a new premises with 6,000 square feet of office space in the heart of the city - where we plan to continue to expand the team of 16 and contribute to the growing tech community. Our move has been featured recently in Leeds Living, to promote the Leeds Digital Festival.”
(Read more here.)

Tech talent will always be attracted to London, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s the capital of the UK and the biggest city in the UK. However Leeds could definitely be a tasty alternative to business owners who want to grow their businesses without the reality of high costs that are leaving a bad taste in their mouths.

The question is, as development, innovation and investment continue to thrive in Leeds could there be a time in the not so distant future where we look to Leeds as the main tech cluster in the UK?

Tweet us @AmsourceTech

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