Yorkshire’s tech sector set to boom

Nexus, the innovation and enterprise centre at the University of Leeds.
Nexus, the innovation and enterprise centre at the University of Leeds.

Yorkshire is in for a jobs boom as its tech sector expands, according to a key industry figure.

Jem Henderson, Tech Nation’s entrepreneurial engagement manager for Yorkshire, said the trend seen in recent years was only going to get stronger.

“There’s an increasing number of tech businesses relocating to Leeds and we’re only going to see more,” she told The Yorkshire Post.

“And it’s not just Leeds – we’re seeing the sector expand right across the region.”

Digital tech companies turned over nearly £4bn in Yorkshire and the Humber last year and they currently employ over 53,000 people.

Yet last year there were 88,000 tech job vacancies in Leeds alone, according to Tech Nation, the UK network for tech entrepreneurs.

What’s more, in Leeds and Sheffield, tech jobs are paid 9 per cent and 8 per cent respectively more than non-tech jobs.

Much of the demand is coming from scaleup companies, which have attracted 50 per cent more investment over recent years.

Sheffield has seen 126 per cent digital business birth increase from 2011 to 2016, whilst Leeds has achieved a 138 per cent – a figure set to grow with the development of Nexus, the new £40m innovation and enterprise centre at the University of Leeds.

In fact, both Leeds and York were among the UK’s top ecommerce investment locations over the last year, and scaleup investment trends have shown similar characteristics to such global cities as Berlin, Ottawa, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv and Cincinnati.

Productivity per worker is significantly higher than the average UK tech worker, at £115,000 compared with £99,000.

But anchoring the regional sector are the big companies, such as Leeds’ two ‘unicorn’ companies (i.e. those valued at $1bn or more), SkyBet and CallCredit, whose presence has helped to pull in other businesses.

“Yorkshire’s tech ecosystem is hugely exciting,” said Ms Henderson.

“With Nexus opening, Channel 4 moving to Leeds, the MIT REAP project all kickstarting and amplifying the activity, as well as amazing established events like the Leeds Digital Festival, it really feels like Yorkshire is the place to be to be involved in UK tech.”