Leeds – home to tech giants and innovative start-ups

In recent years we have witnessed remarkable growth in the tech sector in Leeds thanks to its leading universities and ability to attract digital giants.

February 25, 2022

JLL is immensely proud to have partnered with Tech Nation to launch its annual research report, Tech Nation 2018, in Leeds.

In recent years we have witnessed remarkable growth in the tech sector in Leeds thanks to its leading universities, supportive culture and ability to attract digital giants.

Today the city's tech sector is worth £1bn and employs over 12,000 people. The number of new digital businesses rose by 138% between 2011 and 2016 and this is predicted to continue.

Leeds provides a haven for both entrepreneurs and start-ups, creating a supportive culture where insights and expertise can be shared. These relationships, together with the local talent produced by the city's universities, are helping to forge a dynamic and vibrant sector.

Standout success stories include Rockstar Games, developer of the world-renowned Grand Theft Auto series, and Sky Betting and Gaming, one of two Yorkshire-based tech unicorns, valued over $1 billion.

While, the city's notable community of start-ups includes firms like Cocoon, a maker of internet-enabled home security systems and Crisp, which uses AI to protect the online reputations of brands.

New businesses flourish if they are part of a network that offers the mentoring they need to thrive. They also need to access funding and local talent, and find flexible office space that meets their requirements.

Consequently, Leeds City Council's decision to back a £2m digital hub in Bruntwood's Platform Building has provided much sought-after modern workspace that offer incubators for growth and allow businesses to quickly upscale.

At the same time, the Leeds Digital Festival is helping to cement the city's growing reputation for innovation. This year the event attracted 20,000 delegates to 170 different events, according to the Tech Nation report.

Centres of learning like Leeds University and Leeds Beckett University are helping to produce the talent and research the industry needs, while transport networks, in and around the Yorkshire region, allow businesses to build vital contacts.

However, a survey of over 3,400 people working in the tech sector nationwide, included in the Tech Nation report, highlights how firms need far greater access to skilled workers. Whilst it's typically all about staff, 95% were positive about Leeds's cultural offer and 92% were impressed with the local quality of life, which suggests the city has plenty to attract the employees it needs.

There's now a real opportunity for Leeds and the wider region to capitalise on our position as a digital economy and continue to attract and provide for employees both in terms of attractive, affordable housing and exciting, inspiring places to work.

This article was written by Jeff Pearey, Lead Director – JLL Yorkshire and North East Region