We spoke to Andrew Wright, Chair of the Business Innovation and Growth Panel at Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), about what makes our region’s digital sector stand out from the rest and the importance of ensuring everybody can benefit from technology.
Tell us a bit about yourself and the LEP.
I am driven by inspiring teams and creating organisations that make a difference. Throughout my career, in a number of high-tech industries, I have focused on the blend of strategy, business insight and analytics teamed with empathy to motivate people, in order to drive success.
It seemed a natural fit for me to join the LEP board and Chair the Business Innovation and Growth Panel, which I have been part of for five years now. In these roles I am able to bring my expertise from the private sector to inform public sector investment and help to achieve the best economic outcomes for the region.
Why did the LEP decide to get involved with Leeds Digital Festival?
We have a thriving digital sector, which we are keen to support. However, we are also mindful of ensuring that all businesses can benefit, innovate, and grow through technology. In particular, our extensive manufacturing sector, where a majority are specialists in advanced processes, R&D and product development.
Last year, the LEP launched a digital heartland campaign to help position the region as a tech hub to promote further inward investment. This type of business coming to the region will not only boost sector growth but will also be an enabler for businesses in all industries who require digital skills and support.
What makes the digital sector here in Leeds City Region different from the rest?
We have a truly open and inclusive digital community that encourages collaboration. With much more home working in the sector, due to Coronavirus, people can benefit from living in or near beautiful natural scenery whilst also having access to a vibrant and fast-growing scene. Through over 70 groups combining thought leadership with knowledge share, staff are encouraged to learn as well as showcase what they’re doing, which demonstrates the region’s genuine commitment to the skills’ agenda. We also have some big names here doing world leading work including Sky Bet, BJSS and NHS Digital. This, teamed with a down to earth ‘Yorkshireness’ about doing business, makes it unique.
How can Leeds Digital Festival contribute to the future economic growth of Leeds and the wider City Region?
The collaboration and knowledge share that Leeds Digital Festival facilitates helps people to be informed as well as increasing interest in digital and tech skills and careers for the future. Therefore, serving the pipeline for growing businesses in the region as well as those attracted to the region due to the talent available.
In five years the festival has gone from strength to strength, and the virtual events that took place earlier this year have allowed for global inclusion, which will inevitably make a bigger impact and put Leeds firmly on the digital map.