By Paul Marsden
The digital sector in Leeds received a boost yesterday with the news that Sky are creating a new technology hub in the city.
The hub, which will create up to 400 new jobs, will focus on designing and developing the company’s next generation of website and apps. But why did the broadcaster choose to invest in a city at the other end of the country from their traditional base in London?
The answer is Leeds’ growing reputation as a home for digital skills and the city’s position on the M62 corridor, which makes their new base accessible for potential staff on both sides of the Pennines.
Sean Hargrave, MediaPost’s London Editor, says the city became a firm favourite once Sky had decided to invest away from London in another city, where young creative talent can afford to live.
He wrote: “When the project was started, the office could have been anywhere in the country, but the data suggested where it should be and the feedback from Sky was that it had managed to get the right skills that were either proving to be elusive or very expensive in London.
“At the same time, of course, the people who had those skills and were looking in those areas can get a job in the technology side of digital media without having to turn their life upside down and move to the capital.”
Sky aren’t the first digital giant to decide Leeds is a good place to invest in. Google opened a new digital garage in the city in March to work with businesses in the city.
A report into growth in the digital industry by Tech City UK, published earlier this year, stated that “Leeds has a strong digital technology sector, specialising in data analytics and management which underpins strengths across health analytics, data science and technology”.
The Sky moves comes as a time of considerable investment in the media and digital sector in the North. In February it was announced that Manchester’s Northern Quarter will become the home of the country’s second technology start-up hub.
This follows the BBC’s successful relocation of TV, radio and online services to MediaCity, where around 2,700 people have been employed since 2011.
As increasing levels of investment pour into both cities, it is becoming clear that both Leeds and Manchester are becoming a crucial part of developing the future economy of the north.