The last week of April saw the wonder of the Leeds Digital Festival. In the second year since relaunch in 2016, there were some 114 events in the space of a week – an extraordinary concentration of activity, bearing testimony to the rise and rise of Leeds as a centre for digital dynamism in the UK.
Leeds Digital Festival isn’t just big in Leeds, the home of our specialist digital division – it is in fact the largest digital festival in the North, and it resonates across and beyond the UK. Even at the events we were at – a fraction of the total – there were speakers from as far afield as the USA, Canada, and Estonia – the latter two at the Northern FinTech Conference. Leeds has a tremendous story as a financial centre, being home to no fewer than 30 national and international banks, with the infrastructure to support those – including highly regarded professional services firms.
Our Leeds base forms part of that infrastructure, serving technology based businesses in the UK and overseas.
Estonian trade mission
May sees Berwins Digital spread its wings with a week’s “pop up” residency in Estonia, where we’ll be carrying out extensive meetings, holding a seminar on the impact of Brexit, and attending Latitude 59 – the leading event in the Baltics for start-up and technology businesses.
We’ll also be holding our own seminar, held at the iconic Lift99 at Telliskivi Creative City, where we’ll be joined by European business leaders and keynote speaker Dr Chris Sier, the UK Treasury FinTech envoy for the Northern Powerhouse.
So we’ll be resident in Tallinn – or e-Resident, because as leader on the mission I have in fact become the holder of an Estonian e-Residency – the pioneering scheme which is designed to offer commercial rights to facilitate international trade.
Nordic tech hub
Estonia, simply, leads the world in digital innovation, from its location south of Finland, east of Latvia and sharing a border to its east with Russia. It’s a fascinating digital hub which offers real trade opportunities and has embraced technology – internet access is even held to be a human right.
We’re excited to be immersing ourselves in this world for a full week, taking the word from out of the Leeds City Region – with a workforce of 1.9 m and economic output of £64 billion – to the north-eastern corner of Europe, a powerhouse of its own with a population of just 1.3 million.
More to come from us on this in the days and weeks ahead!
Paul Berwin is a commercial and digital law specialist at Berwins. As a Director of Leeds Digital Festival, he is involved in the year round planning and staging of the premier digital event in the north of England.