19th Apr 2017

Leeds and its region – a Digital success story

With a diverse and varied economy generating around £64.2 billion a year, there’s little doubt that the Leeds City Region is flourishing. One of the most important areas of this development has come from our digital sector which, in case you’d missed it, will be showcasing its finest over the coming weeks and months. 

The foremost celebration of this is the upcoming Leeds Digital Festival, which takes place between 22nd and 29th April. After 2016’s re-start with some 55 events, this year is set to be even bigger and, thanks to great sponsors and enormous enthusiasm, there are over 100 events – several of which have already sold out!

We’re proud to be a partner of the festival and excited to be part of the series which digital businesses from across the region can’t afford to miss. Events which I’ll be taking part in include Wednesday’s full day FinTech event – sold out with over 200 attendees; an Insider’s event on the Tuesday on growing a digital business and the Statement Agency’s session on E-Commerce developments on the Thursday.

Berwins will also be at the Northern Powerhouse debate with minister Andrew Percy MP on the Friday, and of course the launch on 20th April…even that’s just scratching the surface!   

A Healthy Digital Economy

This showcase serves to highlight the vibrancy and variety of our digital economy. Indeed, from the emerging area of HealthTech, which is very strongly represented with NHS Digital, to gaming – SkyBet is also a major sponsor – there’s plenty to share.

Leeds hasn’t been as great at shouting about itself in the digital sector as it has in others (in football it’s been a bit short of much to shout about for a while); though with the biggest digital festival in the North now expanding to an astonishing scale and scope – we’ve been running out of venues – there’s plenty to share!


Wider Regional Benefits 

But of course the Leeds City Region, which extends from Barnsley to Craven, Calderdale to York, doesn’t just comprise a lively city hub. Other events, such as those hosted by Harrogate Digital, are ably proving that. 

With tremendous backing and organisation from Dan Harper and Alistair Forbes at Harrogate Council, this movement has seen a fantastic revival over the past 12 months, highlighting the tremendous amount of digital business quietly going on in Harrogate. It’s a group which I’m proud to chair and, in the wake of several well attended events, the latest – What business challenges can we solve using the 'Internet of Things' (IoT)? – is another spring session for the region.   

Singled out as a key sector for the district in Harrogate’s business strategy, the digital economy here is set to build on and deliver real results.


International Reach

As a nation, we may be experiencing political uncertainty around – among other things – our future relationship with Europe, but that hasn’t put breaks on the building of international ties.

Drawn by a combination of a firm support network, strong talent pool and favourable operational costs, Leeds Digital Festival expects to welcome a noteworthy number of international visitors, meaning that planned events present an opportunity to showcase our region on the international stage – something the Leeds City Region LEP has put its backing behind.

One particular source of interest comes from Estonia. We not only have visitors coming to us but, as part of this global growth, I’m also leading a Berwins trade trip to the Baltic state in May –  Leeds and Harrogate will be reaching out. We’ll be speaking to business leaders at an event of our own on 23rd May, then we’ll be at Latitude 59, the flagship startup and tech event of nation which prides itself on being the world's first digital society.  Be sure we’ll be blogging about that…


April is quite a month for Leeds Digital, Harrogate Digital, and Berwins Digital; and then May, too…

Paul Berwin is Head of Digital at Berwins and has extensive experience of commercial and digital law. A well known advocate of the digital economy, he is also a Director of Leeds Digital Festival and Chair of Harrogate Digital.  

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