From South Africa to India and all points in between, Leeds is garnering a reputation as one of the UK’s most digitally-savvy cities.
And so, today, the Yorkshire Evening Post is launching a regular focus on the people and projects who are contributing to the switched-on success of the county’s unofficial capital.
From the freshest products to the most dynamic startups, Digital City will celebrate a sector that boasts around 3,000 organisations in Leeds and supports about 70,000 jobs across the wider city region.
Hailing the launch of a feature that will have a significant presence both online and in the printed version of the paper, YEP editor Nicola Furbisher said: “We all know that Leeds is a city going places but, until recently, its burgeoning digital and technology sector was among our better-kept secrets.
“That has all changed this year and we are proud to be at the heart of the efforts to make sure this particular revolution will no longer be a quiet one.
“Leeds was transformed by the industrial advances of the 18th and 19th centuries and now, in the 21st century, it is again being cast as a hotbed of innovation. Let’s embrace everything that has to offer.”
Today’s launch follows the part played by the YEP in promoting and publicising this year’s Leeds Digital Festival, which ran over the course of a packed week back in April.
It featured everything from a film premiere, art exhibitions and panel discussions to day-long conferences and employment workshops in venues across the city.
And, two months on, the event is continuing to make positive waves as it helps to win new contracts for local companies and raises Leeds’s digital profile both here and abroad.
Festival director Stuart Clarke told the YEP: “Even though it was only four months in the planning, we had 56 events, across 28 venues, with over 175 speakers and around 6,000 attendees.
“We had events on data, on digital health, on coding, on digital art and music – something for everyone. Three events encouraged girls and women to look at careers in tech, which is really important as we have a skills gap at the moment so we need to bring more talented people into the industry. Since the festival, we’ve heard of many Leeds-based companies winning business from people and firms they met during the week.
“Our profile as a digital city has rocketed since the festival – we’ve certainly had far more coverage from the national tech press. Our international reach has also grown: we had firms from Estonia, South Africa and India visit Leeds due to the festival and the tech arm of the Malaysian government also visited Leeds last week to discuss international co-operation.
“The digital sector in Leeds is such an important part of the economy of the Leeds city region and it’s fitting that we have a suitable showcase to highlight its success.
“Next year, the Leeds Digital Festival is going to be bigger and bolder, reaching out to more people and firms within Leeds, and showing the national and international tech sectors that we are the digital capital of the North.” Festival steering group members included representatives of firms and schemes such as Garbutt+Elliott, Berwins Solicitors and Hebe Works.