From lead generation to healthcare innovation, education to finance, these businesses are at the top of their game…
As the region’s reputation as a digital hub grows, more and more tech companies are choosing to settle down here. That means more jobs, more innovation and more opportunities for collaboration. But of the thousands of businesses that now call the Leeds City Region home, which are the most exciting? We’ve looked at growth trajectories, culture and the work itself to round up the best tech companies to work for – but remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg, there are loads more where these came from.
Everyone knows the challenges the NHS is facing, so who wouldn’t want to help find a solution? That’s what NHS Digital does. They use information and technology to improve the system and their innovative solutions help to save the NHS millions of pounds. Now that’s a good reason to get up in the morning.
Their Digital Delivery Centre in Leeds is home to 500 technologists. These guys are in charge of building new solutions and maintaining essential systems like the NHS Spine – this unique piece of software joins together 23,000 healthcare IT systems in 20,500 organisations to create one central access point for patient information. They work individually and in collaboration with cutting-edge agencies like Infinity Works, BJSS, Hippo Digital and Aire Logic to find innovative new ways to do things.
The Car Buying Group
The Car Buying Group may not sound very exciting, but believe us, it is. They’ve made selling your car ridiculously easy – they use algorithms to value your car in record time with minimal information and they have a nationwide collection service, so you won’t have to lift a finger. As a result, they’ve swooped into third place on Tech Nation’s list of The North’s Fastest Growing Tech Businesses. In fact, they’ve tripled their turnover in the last 12 months alone.
This is a company that’s at the cutting edge of tech, and they analyse every function of the business to work out if it should be performed by a human or if technology could help streamline the process. And from a developer’s perspective, it’s hugely rewarding. “For an e-commerce website, it might take several months before you can see how effective changes and improvements have been, but here, we’re buying millions of pounds worth of cars every month, so when we change our algorithm, it’s scary, but it makes an immediate difference. It’s properly exciting,” James Branton, CTO of The Car Buying Group, told us.
InVentry creates sign-in and registration solutions for schools and businesses. Their electronic systems let you in and out of the building, but there’s much more to it than that – you can track the movements of your students and staff, check the DBS status of visitors and access a real-time list of everyone on the premises in the event of an emergency.
Over the last 5 years, they’ve taken their customer base from 100 to 4,500, so it’ll come as no surprise that they’re market leaders. And the reliability of their system has played no small part in that – they have very little downtime and a 99.7% customer retention rate. Now they’re looking at how they can take visitor and ID management to the next level with a mobile app that enables you to sign in, wherever you are, and store your identity on your phone. All this, combined with their young, enthusiastic workforce, their pizza days and their Friday pub nights, make InVentry a very exciting place to work.
Technology has transformed the lead generation sector, and nowhere is that truer than at Lead Tech. It was founded in 2008 to help consumers find quality financial advisors and they’ve grown at a rapid pace. Last year, 1.5 million people visited their brands, which cover everything from pensions to private medical insurance. Once there, they help connect them with the right financial advice partner through a sophisticated algorithm that factors in demographics, engagement and social data.
They’re now one of the fastest-growing tech businesses in the north, but that’s just one of the reasons why it’s a great place to work. Their offices in Pool-in-Wharfedale have been custom-designed to make the most of the location, so floor to ceiling windows look out over the rolling Yorkshire countryside. They also have a games room, a gym, a library and a training academy. Coupled with an ethos that encourages staff to challenge the way the business works and disrupt the status quo, and you’ve got the perfect work environment for ambitious techies.
Want a job with added feel-good? Go work for EMIS. Their software makes a difference to millions of NHS patients every day. It’s made in partnership with clinicians, GP surgeries, hospitals and community services across the country to help them provide better and faster patient care. For example, they recently created an app that allows district nurses to access patient records on the move, and it’s helped them make contact with 50% more patients by cutting down travel and admin time.
The desire to make a difference feeds into their culture – from the engagement manager to the informatics pharmacist and the development project manager, everyone is passionate about what they do. And they’re rewarded with personalised perks. “When we say ‘benefits to make your own’, we mean it. Whether it’s extra holiday, dental cover or a bicycle, we have something for everyone. Our people can build their own package and can even include their partner in their benefits too,” Jacqui Summons, EMIS Group HR Director, told us.
Sky’s reputation precedes them. As the pioneers of satellite TV, it should come as no surprise that Sky has taken to the digital age like a duck to water. Now their TV services are accompanied by a raft of digital products, so you can watch, read and play, any time, anywhere. The result? You can work on products and services that will be used by millions of people in the UK and further afield.
That’s not the only reason to keep scanning the job ads. They have an open, collaborative culture and start-up feel that you wouldn’t expect from a huge multinational company. They hold regular hack days, encouraging staff to experiment, try new technology and work with people they haven’t worked with before. Plus, they do internal staff talks from people like Ruby Wax, Sir David Attenborough and Katie Piper. And of course, you get free Sky TV and broadband.
Panintelligence helps businesses harness the power of big data. Not only does their software analyse past performance, but it can also be used to predict future outcomes, gain new insights and fix problems before they happen – which is why they’re able to compete with huge US companies like Microsoft, Tableau and Looker. Needless to say, innovation is key to their products, but it’s also at the heart of their culture.
“The culture here is friendly, open and supportive. To be innovative in the fast-paced world of software, we promote a culture whereby no one is afraid to fail. We champion flexible working and are proud of our diversity,” Mike Cripps, Commercial Director at Panintelligence, told us. “Our CEO, Zandra Moore, is a trailblazer for women in tech and recently won the CRN Women in Channel Entrepreneur of the Year award. These national awards exist to celebrate those wonder women doing great things in the tech world. Zandra has also set up the Leeds LeanIn group, a support network for local women to connect and discuss the challenges they face and help one another.”
Crisp are leaders in the field of safety and crisis monitoring services, which basically means they protect users and brands from online threats. We’re not talking about viruses or hackers here – they monitor user-generated content to identify toxic content, which could include anything from abusive images and online trolls to groomers and terrorist threats. To do this, they use a mix of human and artificial intelligence developed over the last 13 years.
“Although we are growing ridiculously fast, everyone has an impact in their work. Everyone knows who everyone is, even the chairman knows everyone by name and he asks what everyone is doing. We’re a very close-knit team, which is difficult to achieve with a growing company. It’s a very flat structure, an open plan office – there’s no hierarchy with one person sitting in an ivory tower,” Julia Ruane, Head of PR and Content, told us.
There’s more to Virtual College than meets the eye. As you’d expect, they offer a huge range of online courses to individuals and businesses – in fact, they have over 3 million registered learners right now. But they also have a custom-made learning management system so bigger businesses can monitor employee development remotely and a completely bespoke content service that allows businesses to utilise their expertise to build their own tailor-made courses.
Their courses may be virtual, but the business itself is really people-centric. They have 122 employees spread across two buildings in Ilkley, and because they’re one of the fastest growing businesses in the north, there are loads of opportunities to progress and develop in your career. Add a pro-active approach to narrowing the gender gap in the tech industry, a packed calendar of social events and a games room where you can play pool, darts and table tennis on your lunch break, and you’ve got a great place to work.
BJSS is the company that made ‘IT solutions’ cool. Their purpose is simple – they want to harness the power of technology to benefit their clients. From artificial intelligence to cloud computing and digital transformation, they’ve built their services around the needs of modern businesses – and it’s proved extremely successful. They now have seven UK offices and two in the United States – anyone fancy a secondment in New York?
“The culture at BJSS is really supportive and the depth of skills and experience within the organisation is phenomenal. Technology can sometimes be daunting, but there is always someone around to support, and more importantly, spend time helping you when you hit a thorny challenge,” Eleanor Davill, Business Analyst at BJSS explained. That culture is enhanced by their office, which has been designed to encourage collaboration, and by the ‘perks of the job’. The kitchen is fully stocked with fruit, toast stations and more, the work’s dos are basically unmissable and the programme of tech talks, ‘lunch and learns’ and Mind Gyms they put on ensures everyone’s always top of their game.
Yorkshire Building Society
Technology is becoming ever more important to the financial sector, something that Yorkshire Building Society is only too aware of. 12 months ago, they embarked on a campaign of digitalisation that will transform their business. From hackathon events that explore new ways to best serve their customers to new technology pilots and proof of concept tests, they’ve created a culture of innovation that will help them stay at the forefront of the fintech revolution.
They’re still very much at the beginning of their journey, so the future is filled with opportunity. As they continue to push forward with their tech agenda, more and more roles will become available – and because they’re so invested in their staff, you could move up the ladder surprisingly fast. But while ambition is important here, so too is quality of life, so they offer flexible working hours to help you find the right work-life balance.
Ten10 is the UK’s leading software testing company, which means you could see the latest apps, websites and games before anyone else. But their services go much further than that – from developing test strategies to honing in on the right tools for the job, they help businesses like Morrisons, Dyson, Hitachi and Ann Summers to optimise their testing process.
And there’s never a dull day here. This is a high-energy company with a truly collaborative approach and a flat hierarchy that means you can pitch your ideas to the CEO with no questions asked. But that’s not all, because they have a shedload of perks for employees. We’re talking flexible working hours, office exercise bikes and foosball tables, subsidised gym membership and oodles of social events.
You’ve probably never heard of Exa Networks. They’re not as famous as Sky or Plusnet, but they provide a high-speed internet service, just like they do. The difference is that they focus entirely on schools and businesses. Forget the usual 22 megabytes speeds, they use next-generation internet technology Darklight to give clients super-fast speeds of up to 100 gigabytes per second. But that’s not all, because they’ve also developed software to protect and support businesses.
And it’s all thanks to their team of uber-talented staff. From credit control to technical support, everyone has an integral role to play – and they appreciate it, so the job comes with praise, high-speed internet, a health cashback plan and top-notch private medical cover. “If you’ve got happy staff, you have happy customers, and if you have happy customers, you have financial stability,” Director and Co-founder Mark Cowgill explained. “That helps you grow, so everything generally starts with that – how do we keep our staff happy?”