Leeds bucks the trend with growth in digital industries, outstripping national decline.

New data reveals Leeds is experiencing significant growth in its digital industries, bucking the trend of an overall UK decline. The national cyber sector has declined by 0.6%, while Leeds' growth rate is 9.9%.

The study by Leeds Digital Festival and The Data City shows that Leeds’ businesses are growing, with key sectors outperforming the national averages, including the Net Zero economy, software development, agency market, fintech, and the space economy.

Companies registered in Leeds are growing their headcount at an average of 4.2% a year, similar to the UK-wide average.

Stuart Clarke MBE, Leeds Digital Festival director, said: "There’s no doubt that the tech community in Leeds is developing rapidly with Leeds Digital Festival continuing to feed, inspire and evolve the sector. We’re creating a strong legacy whilst laying down an exciting blueprint for the future.

“Leeds' success in key sectors contributes significantly to the UK's employment growth, with the city outperforming in multiple sectors. Despite economic turbulence in recent years, Leeds' businesses are showing promising growth in various sectors, adding to their employee headcount and overshadowing national averages in all the key top sectors in the tech and cyber arena.”

The 10 highest growth sectors in Leeds

  • Software Development – 104 companies / 21.2% growth
  • Business Support Services – 520 companies / 20% growth
  • Supply Chain Logistics – 36 companies / 19.2% growth
  • FinTech – 111 companies / 15.5% growth
  • Data Infrastructure – 136 companies / 14.7% growth
  • Rehabilitation – 85 companies / 13.5% growth
  • Land Remediation – 51 companies / 12.9% growth
  • Space Economy – 40 companies / 10.6% growth
  • Cyber – 72 companies / 9.9% growth
  • Agency Market – 283 companies / 8.5% growth

Now in its eighth year, Leeds Digital Festival takes place in the city from 18-29 September at a host of venues around the city. Delegates can attend the Festival in person or virtually with a range of events from the region's leading digital organisations, including Accenture, Microsoft, KPMG, BJSS, TPP, Lloyds Bank, Leeds Building Society, Codurance, and Snowflake.

Alex Craven, CEO of Leeds-based scale-up data company, The Data City, commented: “Our data shows that whilst the national cyber sector is shrinking at 0.6% per year, Leeds is significantly outperforming this with an impressive growth rate of 9.9%. This can be attributed to the dynamic digital sector in the city, the emergence of numerous pioneering tech companies and the ongoing influence of Leeds Digital Festival, which continues to bring the whole community together, encouraging exciting collaborations, inspiring and attracting future talent and driving commercial success.

“As Leeds continues to flourish, it solidifies its position as an economic powerhouse and a driving force behind the UK’s future prosperity.”

The Festival will also feature Leeds Digital Careers Fair on 26 September at Leeds Arena. It will showcase over 100 employers and training providers and over 1,500 attendees.

Leeds Digital Festival is the UK's largest open platform tech event and the biggest outside London. The open and inclusive nature of the programme enables everyone, from startups to global organisations, to host events. The vast majority of events are free to attend to ensure it remains accessible to all.

The Festival is supported by premier sponsors BJSS, TPP and PEXA, alongside executive sponsors Accenture, Glean, Jungle IT, Leeds City Council, Lloyds Banking Group, Nexus, University of Leeds, and Flutter.

For more information on Leeds Digital Festival, visit https://leedsdigitalfestival.org/