London startups are wowed by northern delights of Leeds

Byng staff David Godfrey, Katie Buffalo and James Sheasby Thomas.Byng staff David Godfrey, Katie Buffalo and James Sheasby Thomas.
Byng staff David Godfrey, Katie Buffalo and James Sheasby Thomas.
The pulling power of Leeds's digital and tech sector is proving just capital for startups with big ideas and ambitions.

An increasing number of firms are looking to the North as soaring office, accommodation and staff costs in their original home of London threaten to thwart their expansion plans.

And, such is the interest in moving to Leeds in particular, a new initiative has been launched to smooth the path here for London-based startups.

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Run by Leeds startup adviser Stuart Clarke with the support of Leeds City Council, the London To Leeds scheme arranges visits so companies from the south can see first hand what Yorkshire’s largest city has to offer.

One company that can pay testament to the benefits of coming to Leeds is Byng (, a software consultancy helping businesses build competitive online services and products.

Originally founded in London a decade ago by Ollie Maitland, today it still has a base in Shoreditch but now also has a thriving office at High Court, near The Calls.

The prospect of reduced property costs was one factor in its switch but the firm also cites as a major draw the abundance of strong tech talent being produced by local universities.

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Leeds’s proud tradition of technology-led businesses such as Sky Betting & Gaming and First Direct was another plus.

Byng head of delivery Kris Coeurleroi said: “Having successfully launched Byng in London in 2006, we felt Leeds was the right place to scale up operations due to its strong digital sector and excellent universities, backed up by the city’s world-class infrastructure.

“There are so many great digital companies here in Leeds building a strong tech culture and we know we’ve made the right decision.

“In the last 18 months, we’ve built our Leeds team up from four people to 15, with plans to grow to 20 within 2016.”

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London To Leeds’s Stuart Clarke told Digital City: “In London, founders of startups often find it easier to access financial and operational support.

“However, the costs of growing a startup in London are forcing many startups to look outside the city as increasing office and accommodation costs, plus the higher salaries of additional staff, are making it difficult for them to expand. Around 65 per cent of London startups consider relocation within 12 months of starting up.

“This project aims to attract new businesses to Leeds and add to the 3,500 digital firms already in the city.”

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The YEP recently launched a new 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.