Leeds: the fastest growing tech hub in the North and the scaleup haven

Leeds, historically, is not a city you would associate with technology. But, it is in fact, a growing tech hub, which hosts a number of innovative tech startups, scaleups and enterprises.

The city, now, has the fastest scaleup growth in the North – significantly outperforming even Great Manchester, often dubbed the UK’s second city.

Highly successful tech hubs, such as Bruntwood’s Platform building continue to attract and support the expansion of digital technology businesses. And, continued growth by Australian fintech Sandstone Technology, plus the arrival of Estonian Fintech scaleup Fitek and US sports analytics business Hudl confirm Leeds as now having the highest concentration of scaleups outside London.

Scaled Insights has also just moved to Leeds, while DAZN Group, Sky and Panintellgience have a big presence in the city.

Leeds is focused on tech and has had a lot of success in fostering an innovative culture. The success has been so tangible that some believe the city is not only the best place to start a tech company outside of London, but also, that one day, it will rival San Francisco.

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Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and NP11 said:

“The digital sector in Leeds City Region contributes £6.6 billion to our economy. It’s a fast growing tech hub. This year, Tech Nation and Dealroom found that venture capital investment into our region’s tech companies amounted to £108.8 million, the fastest rate in the North. Recent tech investors in the region include AND Digital, Perform Group (DAZN) and Scaled Insights.

“Whilst our offer is yielding remarkable results, we want it to be even more attractive. That’s why we have launched #Welcome, a bespoke soft landing package to de-risk investment for fast-growing tech and creative companies to locate here.”

Leeds tech hub in action

Company name: CPP Group
City HQ: The International Support Centre is based in Leeds
Market: Provider of products and services in the insurance and finance markets
Tech focus: InsurTech and FinTech
Revenue: £110.1 million (2018)
Company size: 556 employees, operating in 12 markets around the world including the UK, Spain, India, Turkey, Bangladesh, Mexico and China.
Big name clients: Santander, Barclaycard, DenizBank, American Express, Zurich, Blue Cross, Coppel and Vodafone.

CCP Group:

CPP Group is an AIM listed global product and services company that specialises in the financial and insurance markets. Although established for many years, the company has undergone a recent business transformation and has adapted and grown its products and services to enable it to continue responding to customer needs and challenges. Today, CPP operates in 12 markets around the world, including the UK, Spain, India, Turkey, Bangladesh, Mexico and China. In 2018 CPP Group reached 8 million customers, doubling its customer base in the last two and a half years, a key indicator of the global reach within the business. Customer renewal rates were also recorded at 71.9%, through its partnerships with 250 businesses, including Santander, Barclaycard, DenizBank, American Express, Zurich, Blue Cross and Vodafone.

Over recent years the business has made significant investments and acquisitions as part of its growth strategy, which have included; InsurTech start-up, Blink, leading Business Process Management company, Globiva, cyber risk management company KYND plus Valeos, a specialist consultancy providing value-added services and products to companies in the insurance sector.

Having acquired travel disruption solutions provider CPP Innovation, trading as Blink, CPP Group has developed the world’s first innovative platform to offer real-time travel solutions when flight disruptions occur. The digital technology means that these real-time solutions can be delivered at the speed and convenience that modern customers demand, while eliminating the hassle of completing claim forms. In 2018, CPP Innovation secured an important strategic deal with Blue Cross Canassurance in Canada. Six months after the partnership had been launched customer numbers have already exceeded 100,000.

With insight, collaboration and innovation at the heart, CPP Group works with partners to create technology-led propositions to meet business partner and customer needs. These products deliver additional revenue, profit plus generate customer loyalty for business partners, all packaged up with a fully managed brand enhancing customer experience.

Company name: first direct
City HQ: Leeds
Market: Financial services — retail banking
Tech focus: Personalised, frictionless, innovative banking experiences. We’re focused on developing customers’ digital capabilities to assist them to manage their finances and financial well-being through mobile and web technology channels.
Revenue: first direct has been in profit every year since 1995. Part of HSBC UK, and the wider HSBC group, our revenue is not broken out from the rest of the UK bank.
Company size: first direct employs around 2,500 people at two sites, in Leeds and Hamilton (near Glasgow).
Big name clients: All our customers are big to us.

The journey:

first direct’s focus on pioneering amazing service is regularly recognised with awards for customer service. Most recently KPMG Nunwood put the bank at the top of its annual customer service excellence rankings. The bank placed ahead of over 100 brands across all sectors including household names such as John Lewis and Amazon. The bank’s focus on enhancing genuinely useful digital capabilities see more than 95% of customer contact coming through a digital channel, with customers 21 x more likely to engage with the bank via digital channels (mobile or desktop) than telephony.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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Tech Hubs
Tech scaleups