Leeds’ reputation as a digital hub is spreading, and these 8 companies are helping to make it happen.
When it comes to the tech industry, Leeds is quickly becoming one of the best places to work in the UK. There are 23,734 jobs here, according to Tech City 2017, and with an average salary of £50,041, it’s no wonder people are flocking to Leeds. But it’s not just numbers. The businesses behind them are just as important, which is why we pinned down eight of the city’s most interesting and innovative companies to show you why Leeds’ tech scene is the one to watch.
Let’s start with one that you wouldn’t naturally think of. Alscient is an IT services company, which at first glance, might seem terribly dull – but it’s not. They specialise in cloud computing, working with big companies like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, SAS and Splunk to solve business problems with new technologies. Their business is incredibly agile, forever changing and adapting to embrace the latest developments – and that makes it a really exciting place to work.
But it’s not just what they do behind closed doors that’s interesting – they also have an active role to play in the city’s development as a tech hub. “Alscient was responsible for bringing the global Big Data Week event to Leeds for the first time in October last year, making Leeds the only UK city outside London to host the event,” Mike Hoban, Consultant at Alscient, explained. “We also work with the University of Leeds to provide industry placements and internships for students interested in a career in technology.”
Word of Cocoon is spreading – and with good reason. They’ve created an innovative new alarm system that uses Subsound® technology to protect your home again intruders. All you need is one futuristic device to cover your entire home – no wires, no sensors, no cameras. Even better, it learns to avoid false alarms, but alerts you just in case, and you control it with an app on your phone. They’re part of the Internet of Things movement (which basically connects the online world with the real one), and as such, they’re as hot on digital as they are on engineering and tech.
“With 27 employees, and a solid reputation in our industry, Cocoon is helping to put Leeds on the map as a city for innovative business,” Kimberley Bottomley, Head of Customer Experience at Cocoon, explained. “Our founding team are active in the start-up community and part of programmes run by Tech North and Tech City UK, our team regularly speak at and organise events. In our industry, our local communities and our special areas of expertise, the Cocoon team is passionate about connecting with those in Leeds and beyond, and we remain active in doing so.”
Sky Betting & Gaming
We couldn’t write this list without giving a nod to Sky Betting & Gaming. They’re one of the UK’s biggest online bookmakers and one of the city’s biggest digital employers. In fact, they’ve doubled their headcount since March 2015, taking it up to over 1,000 employees – 90% of which are in Leeds. This is a business that’s always pushing forward, that uses data and technology to build personalised relationships with over 2 million customers – so expect a fast paced environment that’s changing as fast as the tech.
They don’t just snap up talent here, they nurture it – bringing in graduates and training them up for a bright future in tech, right here in Yorkshire. In fact, they’ve made it a priority, as Georgina Adams, Technology Recruiter at Sky Betting & Gaming explained, “Talented local graduates should realise that they can stay in Leeds, get a well-paid job at one of the UK’s top 100 companies and help build and maintain products and platforms that deal with upwards of half a million customers each weekend and more transactions per second than Amazon on Black Friday. That should convince them that they can build an excellent tech career in Yorkshire, rather than moving out of the region.”
Crisp is the global authority on social media risk. They combine AI technology with a team of experts to moderate thousands of social media channels, protecting them and their users against everything from offensive and illegal content to viral product complaints, cyberbullies and scams. This is next generation stuff, a chance to shape the future of tech, and that’s an exciting prospect, whether you’re a mathematician or a software engineer.
“By staying at the forefront of AI and machine learning, our skilled team can detect risks in our client’s content and understand the potential threat posed by those risks, in minutes,” Adam Hildreth, Founder & CEO of Crisp explained, and that has brought in clients from all over the world. “Our global headquarters are in Leeds, but 95% of our customers are based in technology hubs across the world such as New York, LA and San Francisco. I’d like to think Crisp helps promote Leeds as a leading hub for engineering with the huge number of US household names we protect. There aren’t many companies that can boast they’ve flown 15 executives from the world’s biggest media company into Leeds Bradford Airport.”
What if you could use tech to do good? To make a real difference? That’s exactly what Liquid Logic are doing. They’re the UK’s fastest growing supplier of software for local authority social care and education management services – their services help to protect vulnerable people and save lives.
“We are the runaway market leader in a sector with a surprisingly advanced use of technology,” David Grigsby, Managing Director of Liquidlogic told us. “We use workflow and mobile apps to support professionals in critical social work. We also provide portals that are enabling a revolution in self-service in the social care sector, and we are leading the charge to integrate health and social care systems.” It’s a testament to our tech industry that a business like Liquidlogic has chosen to settle here, but that wasn’t the only thing that attracted them – their office is based in a country house on the outskirts of Leeds, so they’re taking full advantage of our close proximity to Yorkshire countryside to create a unique working environment.
When you think of Jet2.com, you probably think of holidays – and indeed, that is what they do. They have a fleet of over 70 planes that jet off to destinations around the world, but what you might not realise is that the tech behind their two websites, Jet2.com and Jet2Holidays.com, is market leading and made right here in Leeds. Their 150-strong IT and digital marketing team works on everything from mobile apps to custom eCommerce platforms and innovative business intelligence solutions that provide real-time insights.
Innovation is absolutely essential to their business, it gives them a competitive advantage and has helped them get where they are today. “Our internally developed systems enable us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and offer great service to our customers. We have continually and often launched innovative products, Resort Flight Check In being a recent example of such innovation. In addition to this we have a dedicated IT Innovation budget that we use to evaluate latest technologies, such as iBeacons and Machine Learning, so we can continue this trend,” Johnathan Nicolson, Jet2.com’s IT and Digital Recruiter, explained.
Hitachi Capital is a prime example of the great things that happen when finance and tech come together. They’re one of the UK’s leading financial services companies and they’ve made it their mission to revolutionise the consumer credit market – but what does that mean? In a nutshell, they use the latest technology to make it easier for you to buy stuff, by giving you quick, easy access to credit.
“Members of the IT team have the opportunity to work on exciting and innovative projects and we always try to be ahead of the curve when it comes to technology.” Jo Clifford, In House Resourcing Specialist at Hitachi Capital, told us. “We are continually looking at different ways of working and making ourselves more streamlined and up to date with technology. Training at Hitachi Capital is on-going and we support all our 1400 UK wide employees with both e-Learning and external development courses.”
This one’s a little bit different. FDM Group is essentially an in-road into the IT industry. They take on graduates and train them up as IT consultants, then place them in businesses across the UK. They’re opening the door to a lucrative and ever-growing industry – and they’re opening that door to everyone. Their training is open to all, whatever your degree, and they have a dedicated Women in IT Initiative to get more women into the industry.
They have offices in London and Glasgow, but their Northern operation is now based in Leeds, because this is where it’s at. “We were based in Manchester until June 2015, but we moved to Leeds because it’s a tech hub. Loads of our clients are Yorkshire based, we get involved in a lot of digital fairs here – people are interested in tech and there are loads of opportunities,” Aimee Kowzan, Team Lead for their University Partnerships Team, explained, so now they’re scooping up talent from the city’s universities and placing them in businesses in Yorkshire and beyond.
You can meet all these businesses and more at Leeds Digital Job Fair on Friday 28th April 2017.