The creation of a new digital and technology event centre and innovation lab in Leeds is one of the final two projects to receive a grant from an innovative fund supporting local businesses in the sector.
Provided through round two of the Leeds Tech Hub Fund application process, which was introduced as a catalyst for growth and expansion in the city’s ever-growing digital sector, £393k has been awarded to Duke Studios to transform their current warehouse space into a new modern base. Featuring in the new facility will be state-of-the-art projection, sound and streaming facilities. On offer through the innovation lab will be a mix of technologies which will allow the rapid creation of physical objects designed on screen.
FutureLabs have also been awarded £455k to assist their work with early-stage tech businesses to develop and build their companies. An engagement programme of meet-ups and events with new and developing businesses in the sector will also be expanded, building on their pop-up project in Eastgate.
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.
With four other projects receiving support earlier in the year, all funding available through the Leeds Tech Hub Fund has now been allocated.
The projects announced in the first round were:
●‘Platform’ by Bruntwood – creation of a new £2m Tech Hub providing new and existing digital businesses with access to 410 desks in both co-working and small office environments, event spaces and meeting areas, all backed up with help to grow and find finance for tech companies.
● East Street Arts ‘BEETA’ – £550,000 to promote with partners Invisible Flock, Leeds as a unique global location for creative digital projects and businesses and linking tech to the city’s dynamic international artistic offer. This will support the city’s European Capital of Culture 2023 bid.
● An investment of £100,000 in the ‘Leeds Open Data Institute’, linking tech growth with the wider cultural offer in Quarry Hill. This will increase their capacity to support start-ups, events and collaborative projects.
● Funding of £36,646.52 to support ‘GameMakers’, which will offer specialist game development hardware in order to assist computer game start-ups accelerate their growth.
The development of the Leeds Tech Hub was provided from £3.7m of funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Councillor James Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for resources and strategy, said:
“Leeds has an extremely strong digital sector, and through the Leeds Tech Hub Fund it has been fantastic to be able to provide support to six innovative projects in the city that aim to help nurture and support the emerging tech business of the future. The quality of bids which we received was outstanding and far exceeded the money available, which is I believe testament to the many creative and talented people and businesses in the Leeds tech sector.
“I am delighted to be able to announce that the two final projects to receive assistance from the fund will include the creation of a state of the art events space and prototyping facility by Duke Studios, and the continuing important work by FutureLabs with early stage tech businesses.
“While the digital sector in Leeds is fast-growing we are certainly not being complacent. We will be continuing to work closely with partners to ensure that progress continues to be made here in the city and also with the parallel investments in Manchester and Sheffield to promote the growth of the northern tech sector.”