Leeds digital queen is rising to her new challenge

Amy De-Balsi.
Amy De-Balsi.

Leeds Digital Jobs Fair founder Amy De-Balsi writes for Digital City about her new role as head of innovation and partnerships for Bruntwood SciTech in Leeds.

As a University of Leeds geography graduate, I fell into the Leeds digital and tech sector almost 20 years ago.

During that time I have been privileged to work in a start-up as well as in the corporate and public sector, which have all been innovating and changing the local technology scene.

I joined Bruntwood in January 2019 because it is a company that is focused on creating thriving cities.

They are an enabler of economic growth in UK city regions, particularly in the North, and a leading partner in the Northern Powerhouse.

My job as head of innovation and partnerships is to connect the companies based at our Platform building with partners across the city who will help them grow. 

Platform opened its tech co-working hub in April 2018 and has rapidly become a key part of Leeds’s tech and innovation landscape. 

It is indicative of the city’s wider ambition to be a leader in technology.

Platform offers the right support and brings together like-minded businesses into a community that sparks innovation.

The tech sector here is thriving, supporting more than 34,000 jobs and contributing £1.3bn GVA to the local economy. 

We have real strengths in Medtech, Fintech and computer gaming, but the main issue for every business is attracting talent.

Platform is very proud to be home to the Northcoders coding boot camp.

It’s the first of its kind in the city and now, every three months, groups of newly-trained junior developers will leave ready to work in the city.

Part of my new role is to develop links with the rest of the city, including universities, professional service firms and corporate tech teams, to help build Platform’s start up businesses.

Having a strong start-up scene is important to the economy because of the jobs and new opportunities they provide. In the first year alone, 34 new jobs were created in Platform.

Access to finance is crucial for a company looking to scale and my priority is identifying and working with investors and brokering relationships with businesses that need investment.

We are lucky to have five investment companies as members of our community.

I’m also working with mentors and business angels to provide free external advice.

For Leeds to continue to grow, we need more facilities like Platform.

It’s an indication of how far the city has come over the last five years and shows how fast the sector is moving.