Big-hitters will make their mark at Leeds Digital Festival

Leeds Digital Festival marketing and events organiser Tim Brazier.
Leeds Digital Festival marketing and events organiser Tim Brazier.
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You ain’t seen nothing yet – that was the switched-on message today from the organisers of this year’s Leeds Digital Festival.

Final preparations are currently being made across the city for the festival, which this year runs from April 22 to 29.

Last year’s staging was hailed as a spectacular success and the ideal way to showcase the strengths of Leeds’s digital and tech sector.

But organisers believe 2017’s edition will be even bigger and better, with 10,000 attendees expected during a packed programme of more than 80 events.

Favourites making a return from last year include the FinTech North and Northern UX conferences, coding competition Code in the Dark and the Algorave tech-music mashup.

Speakers confirmed to date include Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy MP as well as the global digital director of Marks & Spencer and the chief executive and founder of the IMDB website.

Headrow House, Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds University and tech firm aql’s Salem Chapel site will be among the venues for the various festival events.

Festival director Stuart Clarke told Digital City: “It’s great to be bringing back many of last year’s events whilst also welcoming new ones.

“We’ve been delighted by the number of events coming through but not surprised as the Leeds Digital Festival belongs to the city – it’s an open platform where anyone or any company can put an event on.

“If you have a great idea for an event, get in touch and we’ll help you put it on.”

The festival has the backing of many of the city’s digital big-hitters, who appreciate how it can highlight their sector’s job opportunities and growth.

They include Sky Betting & Gaming chief executive Richard Flint, who said: “We’re delighted to be one of Leeds Digital Festival’s headline sponsors.

“As a key employer in Leeds, we’re committed to driving forward the Yorkshire tech economy, creating great jobs in the region and helping to build the Northern Powerhouse.

“The Leeds Digital Festival showcases the many great companies and initiatives we have here and helps to draw in talent from all over.”

University of Leeds vice-chancellor Sir Alan Langlands said: “We have a strong focus on digital innovation at the University of Leeds, including creating opportunities for students through online learning.

“We look forward to celebrating digital culture in all its forms at the festival.”

Rob Shaw, interim chief executive at NHS Digital, said: “As one of the city’s major technology employers, we are delighted to support Leeds Digital Festival.

“We look forward to being part of this week of events which will showcase the city’s impressive digital credentials.”

Megan Taylor, business development manager at the Ahead Partnership social enterprise, said: “Leeds’s digital economy is set to grow by 15 per cent in the next six years, so we’re delighted to be sponsoring Leeds Digital Festival to extend opportunities for those wanting to learn more about careers in digital, promote digital skills and education as essential for our young people, and help businesses understand how they can be part of that picture.”

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The Yorkshire Evening Post recently launched its Digital City platform in partnership with Sky Betting & Gaming.

The platform is designed to highlight the giant strides being made by a sector that boasts around 3,000 organisations in Leeds.