Before the government restrictions around Covid-19 were put in place, we were getting ready to announce the line-up for our fifth annual festival, with over 240 physical events confirmed to take place. When it became apparent that this would no longer be possible, we made the decision to run the Festival virtually – if anyone can put on a successful online festival, it’s the digital and tech sector!
We were overwhelmed by the support we received from the Leeds tech community who came together to continue learning, sharing and celebrating throughout this strange time.
Across the Festival fortnight, we saw an incredible 134 online events covering everything from fintech to startups to cyber security to AI and much more. Event organisers included the likes of Tech Nation, BT, Deloitte and Barclays.
Not only did the regional community continue to celebrate the innovation and talent we have here in the Leeds City Region, our event organisers attracted an international audience from over 50 countries and 5 continents around the world. Without our new digital format, this large-scale global engagement would just not have been possible.
We also saw the launch of The Online Safety Technology Industry Association (OSTIA), a new industry body designed to bring collective influence and efficient networks to the online safety sector in the UK, opening the second week of the Festival. Key leaders in the space, including Sarah Connolly, Director of Security and Online Harms at DCMS and Adam Hildreth, Founder and CEO at Leeds-based Crisp, came together online to launch this as part of the Festival.
Event successes included BJSS, who welcomed an impressive 2,190 attendees across their 14 events, along with Fleek Marketing, who received 748 registrations across theirs.
Stuart Clarke, Festival Director said: “We are incredibly proud to have ended the Festival on such a positive note. When we set out to pull together a virtual festival, we had hopes to attract anywhere between 30 to 40 events. To have 134 events organised in total over such a short period of time is incredible.
“Even better, was the fact that not only did the regional community come together to celebrate innovation in Yorkshire, but that people from around the world also came to show support for the Festival. This is testament to the region’s growing reputation as an international technology hub.
“I want to thank everyone who organised a digital event online, it was wonderful to see everyone pull together in these unprecedented times. We are all very much looking forward to seeing you all at the physical festival in autumn.”
A huge thank you to all event organisers, attendees and our sponsors for contributing to an incredible two weeks of online events celebrating all things digital. We’ll be back in September, when we’re planning to have a mix of both physical and virtual events – as we continue to push the Leeds brand around the world.