Where We Were When We Started

Our strong University research base; collaborative ethos and focus on inclusive growth, and the current attractiveness for investment can be the catalysts to our mission

  • Leeds is bucking the UK trend in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
  • Leeds was the leading Northern city for venture capital investment in UK tech companies in 2018 with £108.8m* * Only 3% of the investment in London, 25% of investment in Cambridge
  • Leeds has experienced the highest level of ‘new start-ups’ in the city centre since 2007 during 2018



Education Providers

Risk Capital



Ecosystem Strengths

Innovative Capacity

  • Strong foundation of universities
  • Skilled workforce
  • Developing innovation infrastructure
  • Broad-based economy, providing resilience and a strong basis for cross-sector innovation
  • Lower than UK average spend in R&D
  • Underperforms in commercialising innovation

Entrepreneurial Capacity

  • Strong start-up performance
  • Strong scale-up performance (which we need to understand better)
  • Productivity is growing faster than the national average (but still lags behind the national average)
  • Venture capital investment is increasing rapidly
  • Export performance is weak
  • Firms seeking risk capital are not investment ready
  • Significant gender; ethnicity and socio- economic imbalance amongst founders

Key Messages from our survey

Access to talent is the #1 location factor, followed by commitment to Leeds and access to universities
60% say R&D is key investment priority in next 12 months
60% consider the Leeds ecosystem to be in its infancy
Access to funding #1 barrier
Culture of experimentation, flexibility, problem solving and failing fast (early stage)
Almost all agree there is great value in learning from other businesses
Self-financing main source of capital to start
80% rely on cutting edge technology/user insight to keep ahead
Universities engage well, government often don’t offer effective solutions
Need better communication of available support
Lack of engagement from investors
Aware of initiatives e.g. Digital Festival, Nexus, accelerators