Digital economy to take centre stage in Leeds

digital transformation

Work by the council to make Leeds one of the leading digital cities in the UK is set to be discussed by senior councillors this week.

Members will have the chance at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board on 27 July 2016 to discuss a range of initiatives undertaken over the past 18 months by the authority in partnership with business, universities and education providers to support growth in the digital economy, and steps through the creation of the city’s first Leeds Digital Skills Action Plan.



A number of initiatives are currently being developed through the Leeds Digital Skills Action Plan with partners to meet the challenge of recruiting skilled staff in the digital sector. These include Digital ‘boot camps’, improving career advice, particularly in schools, developing more code clubs in primary schools, tech career fairs and proposals for a new University Technical College for 16-18 year olds specialising in tech.

Also detailed in the report is a proposal to accept a £3.7m grant offer from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport towards the development of a Tech Hub to support further growth. Intended to ‘nurture start-ups, foster collaboration and provide mentoring, learning and business support’ in the tech sector, development on the Tech Hub project in Leeds and its scale and aspirations is being developed. Further funding to support the initiative is also currently being sought, with a decision set to be made later the year.

It’s hoped the plan will lead to more instances of local companies working on digital transformation projects. Recently, Leeds City Council rolled out a prototype smartphone app available for checking bin collections, using open data from its waste management department. The app was developed by local SME software developer Imactivate following a Sustainable Development Lab session.


Digital expertise

Home to around 3,500 digital and tech companies with an estimated workforce of 45,000 that makes up approximately 10% of all jobs in the city, the Leeds digital economy is continuing to move from strength-to-strength. Currently home to global companies such as Asda, Sky’s national technology centre of expertise, NHS and key digital infrastructure including IXL Leeds, the city has developed an expertise in a range of areas from financial technology, telecommunications and data storage, to in-company tech, digital media and computer games.

Councillor James Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for resources and strategy said: “A large amount of work has and is being undertaken by the council, business and universities to establish Leeds as the home of many leading tech companies. The digital sector is a key pillar of our city’s economy and by making Leeds an attractive place for digital business to locate with a positive environment for growth, the whole economy can benefit if Leeds becomes a centre of excellence.

“This report to the executive board sets out the type of projects, initiatives and events which we have already introduced to meet these ambitions. This includes the introduction of our ground-breaking Leeds Digital Skills Plan, which working with partners from across the city is taking a proactive approach to giving our young people and people changing careers the knowledge, ability and confidence to take advantage of the many opportunities that will exist in the sector in the future.”

For a full copy of the executive report, click here.

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