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Hacking, HealthTech and How to Make the Sector More Diverse – Leeds Digital Festival is Back With a Bang!

· Andrew Emery · Culture

Two weeks of innovation and tech take over Leeds.

Leeds Digital Festival

The city is set for two weeks of inspirational talks and unique events with the return of Leeds Digital Festival.

The tech sector is thriving in the region and Leeds Digital Festival has become a key part of that. Over the last six years, it has reflected the city’s success in becoming a leader in the sector, while boosting it at the same time. The festival returns from 20th September to 1st October 2021 with a breathlessly diverse programme of over 300 talks, panels, masterclasses and networking events, all showing the strength of the digital offering in Leeds. It will draw in keynote speakers and attendees from around the world, with a medley of major companies and plucky start-ups sharing their wisdom.

Leeds Digital Festival 2020 was split into two online-only parts, but 2021 is one grand event, with a mixture of real world and virtual events. It will showcase some of its most brilliant facets and rapidly growing areas. There will be events around diversity and inclusion, recruitment and more, so you can find a path into digital. And if you’re already working in the sector, it’ll shine a light on your chosen industry and help you deepen your understanding. So, what can you ‘tech’ part in? Here’s our round-up of the best events of the festival.

Leeds Digital Festival

Credit: Leeds Digital Festival

Leeds 2023 GAME JAM. Want to collaborate on a game, interactive experience or piece of digital artwork? This 10-day event welcomes coders, creatives, musicians and storytellers of all levels. Tuesday 21st September to Friday 1st October 2021 online.

#Unmute – Let’s Talk About Diversity and Entrepreneurship. British Business Bank will be hosting this lively and timely panel discussion on the digital landscape for female and black founders, with a focus on funding and entrepreneurs in the region. 11.30am-12.30pm on Monday 20th September 2021 at Avenue HQ.

Digital Transformation: Powering the Journey to Carbon Neutral. Fighting carbon emissions is a real challenge for businesses and it’s the focus of this panel. You’ll hear from experts in the field from SEO, design consultancy and television. 10am-11.30am on Monday 20th September 2021 online.

Tileyard Presents Creation and Innovation in Music. Join this webinar for a stimulating look at the modern music landscape. Their panel of experts will discuss music creation, selection and royalties in a digital marketplace. 1pm-2.30pm on Monday 20th September 2021 online.

Skills Bootcamps in Coding. Fancy trying your hand at coding? Jonny Rathbone from Northcoders will walk you through simple coding, how to get started and the career possibilities of programming. 6pm-7pm on Tuesday 21st September 2021 online.

Credit: Leeds Digital Festival

ASDA’s Transformation Digital Journey to Enable its Future. ASDA is currently in the midst of a complete IT transformation. It’s a ‘once in a lifetime’ event – discover what it means for retail, IT and their Leeds HQ. 12pm-1pm on Wednesday 22nd September 2021 at Asda House.

Female Tech Founder. Get ready to learn, network and be inspired at this free online event from Assenty. Female start-up founders will tell their success stories, while an audience Q&A is your chance to ask questions. 12pm-1.30pm on Wednesday 22nd September 2021 online.

How to Build the World’s Best Freelance Business. Whether you’re thinking of going self-employed or have taken the plunge, this live event from FB Comms brings together speakers who’ve succeeded on their own in the tech space. 5pm-7.30pm on Wednesday 22nd September 2021 at Clockwise Offices.

How Digital Technology Can Transform Your Business Strategy. Take a quick but deep dive into how digital initiatives are impacting business strategies and driving change. Leeds University Business School will tell you what it means for employees, transparency and inclusion. 4pm-5pm on Wednesday 22nd September 2021 online.

Creating Exceptional Culture in the Age of Remote Working. The growth in remote working has transformed work culture, potentially forever. AND Digital’s recruitment team reveal their remote onboarding and people-first strategy, as well as available roles. 12pm-1.30pm on Wednesday 22nd September 2021 online.

Compass Live Art Anxiety Arcade 2021

Credit: Lizzie Coombes

Funding the Unicorn. Looking to get funding for your business or start-up? This session sees industry experts share their tips on how to navigate the pitfalls of raising capital and seeking investment. 5pm-6.30pm on Thursday 23rd September 2021 at Walker Morris LLP’s offices.

Anxiety Arcade. Head to Platform to discover Compass Live Art’s retro-styled arcade machine that uses classic video games and pop culture to address issues of isolation, dreams, reality and anxiety. 9am-4pm on Friday 24th September 2021 at Platform.

100% Free To Be Me: How We’re Creating an Inclusive Workplace. Inclusivity is a key theme of LDF 2021, and Sky Betting & Gaming’s CEO Steve Birch will be joined by colleagues to focus on what they’re doing to adapt their working culture to individuality. 12pm-1.30pm on Monday 27th September 2021 at Sky Betting & Gaming’s office.

Great Minds Think Unalike. Think you need to be a software engineer to work in data tech? Think again! Experts in the field from The Data Shed have lined up an hour of five-minute talks to introduce you to this major growth area. 12.30pm-1.30pm on Wednesday 29th September 2021 online.

Leeds Digital Festival Awards. Amsource Technology is hosting the LDF Awards this year, a celebration of the thriving tech industry in Leeds. Nine awards are up for grabs, including Entrepreneur of the Year. 5pm-10pm on Wednesday 29th September 2021 at Belgrave.

Leeds Digital Festival

Credit: Leeds Digital Festival

Hackcess All Areas. Open to everyone, this hybrid event invites teams of techies and non-techies to collaborate, talk, find solutions and innovate on the theme of website accessibility. 9am-5pm on Wednesday 29th September 2021 online and at the BJSS Leeds office.

Peoples Theatre in a Virtual World. Explore the possibilities of digital storytelling and gaming technology by tuning into a unique performance of excerpts from the Leeds-set short film ‘The Good Book’. 11am-10pm on Thursday 30th September 2021 online.

Life’s a Breach: Cyber Security Murder Mystery with a Twist. A whodunnit with a difference, join a team of experts as they try to track down a digital theft. It’s followed by a Q&A and networking, with prizes and goody bags. 5.30pm-7.30pm Thursday 30th September 2021 at Avenue HQ.

Leeds Digital Festival Run. As LDF 2021 winds down, an inclusive run starts up. Following a route that takes in many important tech landmarks in the city, this is one of the last chances to network on a run for all abilities. 8am-8.45am on Friday 1st October 2021 at Sovereign Square.

Leeds LGBTQ+ Hack. The LGBTQ+ Hackathon invites teams to come together to develop ideas to make Leeds more inclusive. It culminates in an award ceremony that will recognise the teams that took part. 6pm-8pm on Monday 20th September 2021 & 5pm-8pm on Friday 1st October 2021.

Leeds Digital Festival runs from Monday 20th September to Friday 1st October 2021. Check out the full programme.