There’s absolutely no room for doubt – the Leeds tech scene is on the up and up.
It’s no secret to us that the Leeds tech sector is thriving – after all, we’ve seen it first-hand – but new figures released today by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Digital Economy Council reveal the full extent of its success. From a really quite spectacular rise in venture capital investment to a huge spike in hires, and the fact that software developers are now the most in-demand workers in the city, this is why all eyes are now on Leeds.
800 startups and scaleups are powering growth
The city’s startups have attracted £288 million in venture capital investment already this year – that’s 88% up on the £153 million we attracted in 2021 and 585% up on the £42 million raised in 2020. Gaming company XRGames and ethical fintech brand Tred both own a share of that pot, but believe it or not, the vast majority of funds went to one company. RAW Charging specialises in electric car charging solutions and they raised an eye-watering £250 million to roll out their charging points across the country.
Sustainability is a key focus of innovation in Leeds. RAW Charging is joined by Zest Eco, another EV charging specialist, this one 100% backed by the government’s Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF). And they sit alongside Tred’s carbon footprint tracking, C-Capture’s carbon removal system and Hark’s energy analytics platform to form an ever-growing sustainability cluster. Of course, we’re just as good at MedTech and FinTech, thanks to our strong links to the NHS and thriving professional services sector.
“Leeds was a natural choice to build the UK’s leading green neobank, thanks to its pool of both tech and finance talent,” Will Smith, co-founder of Tred, told us. “There’s nowhere better to start a fintech right now. Being in Leeds and operating a hybrid working model gives us access to talent from across the UK, whilst being able to tap into the strong local tech community. Leeds is also a leader in sustainability research, thanks to the University of Leeds and the Priestley International Centre for Climate.”
Tech hiring has increased by 64% in Leeds
From Asda to Jet2, machine intelligence company Appen to management consultancy Accenture, Leeds is home to a string of big tech employers. But the city’s startups and scaleups, bolstered by investment, are also growing fast. Switch Mobility, a next-generation electric vehicle company, has seen the biggest increase in headcount, but Event Genius, XR Games, Taskbox and The Data City aren’t far behind. Together, they’ve driven a massive spike in tech hiring – it now accounts for a fifth of all available roles in Leeds.
“Leeds is one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the UK thanks to its combination of growing startups and established corporations,” Paul Lewis, Chief Customer Officer at Adzuna, explained. “It’s great to see the excitement and investment in the city translating into dynamic jobs. This positive growth is also being seen across the region, with tech hiring already up 49% across Yorkshire and Humber in 2022 compared to last year, demonstrating the wider impact of the UK’s tech industry.”
There are now 49,000 people working in tech startups and scaleups across Leeds, and that number rises to around 82,000 across Yorkshire and the Humber. Add the thousands of people doing their 9-to-5 at big corporate tech firms and you’ve got the makings of a cracking community. One that’s powered by over 70 regular creative, digital and tech meet-ups, not to mention one of the biggest digital festivals in the UK, covering everything from AI and data to cyber security and networking. It’s no wonder we keep 30% of our graduates.Cover image © Copyright Leeds-List 2022 by Jeremy Kelly