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The SciTech Hub Driving Innovation in Leeds

· Ali Turner · Discussion

Platform is a melting pot of digital talent.

Bruntwood's Platform

On its mission to create innovation districts, Bruntwood SciTech has reinvented a Leeds landmark and transformed it into a hub for technology businesses. Platform is a focal point for the region's digital talent and a showcase for international investment. Find out more...

Bruntwood SciTech has made it their mission to help the city’s tech businesses thrive and this is how they’re doing it…

There’s nothing subtle about Platform. It towers above Leeds Train Station, brought to life by a ginormous mural by legendary graffiti artists Nomad Clan, but what goes on inside is even more impressive. They’ve created a tech community where businesses can collaborate, grow and scale, all under one roof – and it’s helping to drive innovation in Leeds.

This is the home of technology in Leeds

Bruntwood's Platform

Credit: Ben Blackall

Platform is a technology-focussed co-working and office space in the heart of the city. The first three floors have been turned into a dedicated tech hub, while the upper floors welcome world-class businesses with a focus on innovation. Together, they create a unique tech community where like-minded businesses can help and support each other through the challenges of growing.

It’s designed to meet the changing needs of businesses today, from start-ups all the way through to big global brands – but that’s no easy feat, because it has to be everything to everyone. For freelancers, it alleviates the isolation of working alone. You may not have colleagues, but you’ll still have friends, co-workers and mentors. For start-ups, it offers total flexibility. You can scale up fast, without being locked into a long lease, and scale back just as easily.

And the businesses on the upper floors? Like everyone else, they can surround themselves with the brightest minds in the industry, tech entrepreneurs who are pushing boundaries and trying new things. Not only will it help them keep their edge, but it can also open up a world of new opportunities – from expanding their talent pool with resident freelancers to collaborating with innovative new start-ups, there’s a real sense of community here.

It’s more than just a place to work

Bruntwood's Platform

Credit: Ben Blackall

Platform is now home to almost 100 businesses and 1,000 people. They’re all passionate about what they do, so they have a natural affinity towards each other, and Bruntwood SciTech has carefully curated the customer list to help nurture new relationships. The space lends itself to their mission – they have loads of breakout areas where businesses can meet, mingle and bounce ideas over a free coffee. In fact, there’s a 7,000 square foot mezzanine lounge for this very purpose and it doubles as an event space to create even more networking opportunities.

They have their own little tech ecosystem here, with a packed calendar of events to bring people together. Every month, they invite two of their residents to share their stories – it’s a chance to tell people what you do, raise awareness about your brand and identify new opportunities. But that’s just one example. They’ve got running clubs and weekly yoga, they hold workshops and socials – they’ve even invited the city’s tech meet-ups to make the most of the space.

So you see, Platform isn’t just a place to work – it’s a place to learn, a place to collaborate and a place to socialise. Even if your business is only two-strong, your network will be much bigger because you can tap into the wider community, and that makes all the difference.

The community expands beyond the building itself

Bruntwood's Platform

Credit: Ben Blackall

Starting a business is hard and scaling up is even harder, so having the right support system in place can have a huge impact. And that’s something Platform excels in. Their team isn’t just on-site, it’s hands-on, so you can harness their experience and tap into their vast network of contacts.

“Community is everything for us,” Amy De-Balsi, Head of Innovation and Partnerships at Platform, explained. “The most important part of what we do is helping businesses meet each other, we help them get the support they need by connecting them with the rest of the city.” She’s worked in the industry for longer than a lady can admit to and she’s prolific in the wider business community, so she has a big, influential network.

As a result, you can get a personal introduction to the people who can help you move your business forward. Whether you need a lawyer, an accountant or a branding agency, they can help you find one, even if it’s not in the building. And when it comes to funding, you’re in very good hands. There are five investment firms in Platform alone, and they have strong relationships with Leeds City Council and LEP too, in case you’re applying for grant or AD:VENTURE funding.

There’s loads of space to grow

Bruntwood's Platform

Credit: Ben Blackall

Platform already has a thriving tech community. From freelance developers like Ed Robinson to unique start-ups like digital charity Shift.ms, they have a diverse array of businesses in residence – and their forward-thinking mindset has tempted a string of big names into Leeds. Coding bootcampers NorthCoders came over from Manchester, digital agency Cyber-Duck made Platform their first Northern office and sports software company Hudl added Leeds to their global network. But just because they’re packed, doesn’t mean they’re full.

There’s still space for new businesses to move in and you have options. Their third-floor co-working space is designed for businesses with one to four people. They have 45 hot desks, which means you can just rock up, find a space and get down to business, as well as 42 dedicated desks, so you can set up your extra screen, safe in the knowledge that it’s your desk and no one else can sit there. If you need more space, you can move into one of their 42 serviced offices. With room for two to twelve people, they’re designed for small, rapidly-growing businesses, so you can get more space, as and when you need it.

That’s the beauty of Platform – there’s room to grow and time to make it happen, because they take care of everything from business rates to heating and wifi. You’ll also get access to a 10-person and two 4-person meeting rooms, all for free, with the option to hire out additional rooms if you need to. Oh, and let’s not forget the roof terrace – lunch in the sun, meetings with a view – it’s a definite crowd-pleaser.