Leeds Digital Festival has the right stuff for city

Tanja Lichtensteiger.
Tanja Lichtensteiger.
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This year’s Leeds Digital Festival is in full swing – and it has got keyboards tapping and people talking right across the city.

The profile-raising festival began on Saturday and features a packed programme of more than 100 events.

Highlights so far have included Col Needham, a former Leeds University student and founder and chief executive of the IMDb website, presenting the first ever Cultural Institute short film prize.

Speakers have included Leeds Beckett University’s Tanja Lichtensteiger, who appeared at an event held at Leeds’s ODI.

The festival’s headline sponsors include NHS Digital, the national provider of information, data and IT for the health and social care sector. Based in Leeds, it has a workforce of around 3,000 people.

NHS Digital interim chief executive Rob Shaw said: “As one of the city’s major technology employers, we were only too happy to support Leeds Digital Festival, which is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the city’s digital credentials.

“Many people don’t realise the huge number of people we employ here in Leeds, but it’s quite likely you live down the road – or even next door – to somebody who is helping to transform the way we look after our own health, well-being and care through digital services and information.”

He added: “Born and bred in Leeds, I love this city and want to see it grow to challenge London. I have no doubt that in a few years’ time we’ll not just be rivalling the capital but we will be leading the way.”

Festival events that have been run by NHS Digital include a lunch-and-learn drop-in and a breakfast gathering designed to showcase some of the organisation’s biggest achievements.

NHS Digital front-end developer Alex Thomas is also one of the talented techies taking part in tomorrow evening’s much-anticipated Code in the Dark contest at the Belgrave Music Hall.

Organised to demonstrate the cool side of coding, the event is being held in a darkened nightclub-style space and will see 25 developers putting their skills to the test accompanied by a beat-laden soundtrack.

Tomorrow’s schedule also includes the TechNorth Digital Jobs Action Summit at Canal Mills, which is being staged to tackle the so-called ‘talent gap’ in the Leeds digital sector.

A Sky Betting & Gaming-hosted entrepreneurial workshop starts on Saturday with the aim of encouraging more women to start their own businesses.

Headed up by Stuart Clarke, the Leeds Digital Festival finishes this weekend.

For full programme information, visit the www.leedsdigitalfestival.org website.

The Yorkshire Evening Post runs a regular Digital City column 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.

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