Kirstie Shapley, property group Bruntwood’s programme and partnership manager for Platform in Leeds, writes for Digital City.
Platform and I are very similar – we have both been in Leeds for a long time but we are starting out on a new journey together.
This is my first week in my new role as programme and partnership manager at Platform – Bruntwood’s new building in the centre of Leeds which was officially launched back in November.
For both Platform and for me it’s an exciting time: our new tech incubator will be opening in March and it’s my responsibility to lead on the curation of the business support programme offered to our customers to help them grow.
I was attracted to this job in part because of Bruntwood’s approach to creating places for business success, and also because of my Yorkshire pride and desire to be part of something that will be another catalyst for Leeds’s renaissance.
Leeds is already an innovation powerhouse, a leading location for digital tech innovators, but only through strong and determined partnerships will it be able to fulfil its huge potential and grow, compete, drive jobs and attract further investment.
Part of Leeds’s rebirth is the aspiration to create an Innovation District.
A recent report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) found what everyone here already suspected, that Leeds is one of the most attractive cities in the UK to start a business and where entrepreneurs are most likely to succeed.
Their research showed that Leeds is the highest scoring city in the north, benefiting from a young and dynamic workforce and particularly from its universities, which attract students from all over the world.
There are also many initiatives to fuel our ambition like the Leeds Digital Festival or the London to Leeds project which is encouraging startups and tech companies in London to visit Leeds.
Universities and companies in Leeds are also closer than ever, helping to keep graduates in the city.
Our partnership with Leeds Beckett School of Art to produce the stunning Four Words video installation in Platform’s reception is a great example of this.
Meanwhile some of the city’s other big players, NHS Digital and Sky Bet, for example, are investing heavily in graduate schemes and apprenticeships in the city.
Bruntwood understands that collaboration is a high priority for this sector and in Platform we are creating a dynamic hub in the city for tech companies looking to be part of a compatible community.
Collaboration, co-development and business support will make a big impact on all the companies and individuals who locate here.
To assist, we have announced a new scheme offering a number of desks free of charge to early stage businesses wishing to join the tech incubator.
With it comes access to our range of business support initiatives as well as the chance to rub shoulders with potential investors and other Platform customers.
Bruntwood’s achievable ambition is to develop a building where innovation and entrepreneurship converge to deliver business growth and high quality jobs.
Skills and expertise are the bedrock of high-growth future-facing tech companies.
They are also vital in the quest for productivity and competitiveness, not only in Leeds but in all the cities in which Bruntwood operates.