Digital summit in Leeds aims to develop new high-tech links between the Netherlands and the north of England

ODI Leeds founder Paul Connell at today's Northernlands summit.
ODI Leeds founder Paul Connell at today's Northernlands summit.
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A major digital summit is taking place today with the aim of forging lucrative new links between Leeds and the Netherlands.

Data experts, policy-makers and strategists have gathered at the ODI Leeds venue for the Northernlands event, where this morning's speakers included Simon Smits, the Dutch ambassador to the UK.

Simon Smits, the Dutch ambassador to the UK, at the Northernlands event in Leeds.

Simon Smits, the Dutch ambassador to the UK, at the Northernlands event in Leeds.

It is hoped the summit will help the north of England's digital community develop closer ties with the Netherlands, regarded as a hotspot for technology and data innovation.

Other speakers at today's event included ODI Leeds founder Paul Connell and Sarah Longlands, from the IPPR North think tank.

Superflux and Amazon Web Services were among the groups taking part in demonstrations and workshops.

Organisers say the strength of Leeds's digital economy made it a "natural location" for the event, officially called the Northernlands Data and Startup Summit.

Mr Smits said: “The Netherlands is a strong believer in the role of open data to stimulate new economic activities and growth.

"The Netherlands and the UK are both top countries in Europe in the Digital Economy and Society Index.

"We have a high quality, ubiquitous digital infrastructure which boosts our growth of the digital economy and society.

“We believe that the activities here in the North, and Leeds in particular, are showing the same potential for the northern economy.

"We are therefore very happy to be part of this summit and to work together with ODI Leeds to build a connection between the Netherlands and the north of England for a better digital economy for both of us.”

Mr Smits was due to meet the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Graham Latty, during his visit to the city.

Speaking ahead of today's event, Coun Latty said: “This startup summit will offer the opportunity to showcase our city to those businesses working in the Netherlands’ digital and tech sector, and also very importantly provides a platform on which we can build positive relationships through shared learning and ideas.”

The event is being held as part of both the Leeds Digital Festival and the Leeds International Festival.

Based in Munro House on Duke Street, ODI Leeds is described as a 'pioneer node' of the Open Data Institute, which was co-founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the worldwide web.