Move over, Silicon Valley. Silicon Yorkshire’s coming for the crown

Now the tech giants of the north are staging a takeover. Enter Silicon Yorkshire: England’s answer to San Francisco’s world-renowned startup hub.

Yorkshire. The land of Sunday roast staples, brews strong enough to stand a spoon up in, and… technology? They may be famous for their foodstuffs, but now the tech giants of the north are staging a takeover. Enter Silicon Yorkshire: England’s answer to San Francisco’s world-renowned startup hub.

Not just a pretty place to live (but that doesn’t hurt)

The north of England is undoubtedly an attractive place to put down roots. Lush green fields, cultural landmarks and affordable housing make it a great location to settle. But as Yorkshire makes a name for itself as a growing tech hub, the lure is also getting stronger for people who work – or want to work – in that arena.

The academic scene is an enormous part of this. Not only are the universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York known for their research in fields such as robotics, AI and data science – thereby providing a platform for the best technical academics in the country – but they also attract budding young engineers who want to undertake tech-focused degree courses.

Of course, this then comes full circle. Universities are rife with potential, white- and blue-collar apprentices are champing at the bit – young people are looking for an opportunity to put their skills into practice. When they graduate, they’re in prime position to get snapped up by local businesses who want the best and brightest young minds to join their ranks and bring new ideas. Yorkshire retains its tech talent, and grads get their pick of the Silicon bunch – without the traditional pilgrimage to tech hubs such as London. Win-win.

A Sky-rocketing reputation

Even if you’ve never bought a lottery ticket in your life, you’ve probably heard of Sky Betting & Gaming. From humble beginnings as a Yorkshire-based startup, this tech kingpin is now one of the biggest players in the industry – and it’s in excellent company. Major household names like Plusnet and TransUnion (formerly Callcredit) also call Yorkshire home.

With a focus on innovative digital platforms, Sky Betting & Gaming made it their mission to develop user-friendly apps, personalised user experiences and cutting-edge live streaming services. However, they really hit the big time when they were acquired by The Stars Group (now known as Flutter Entertainment) for a whopping £3.4 billion in 2018 – launching them onto the international stage and highlighting the universal potential of Yorkshire-based startups.

Not only did this create job openings, bolster the local economy and further cement Sky’s status as a global brand, but their meteoric rise boosted the entire region’s reputation, putting Yorkshire on the map as a tech hub in its own right.

The Northern technology business boom

Silicon Valley, California, is famous for startup success, and Silicon Yorkshire is no different. The fintech, digital health, e-commerce and game development sectors have a very strong startup presence in the north, contributing to and diversifying the overall tech ecosystem. And, given the rich manufacturing heritage of the region, it’s no surprise that Yorkshire has built on its strengths to evolve into the tech-driven economy it’s known as today.

Despite this, brand-new businesses can’t just rely on the prowess of their neighbours to drive their success. Tech hubs like Platform (Leeds) and Electric Works (Sheffield) provide offices for startups, helping them access the workspace they need to get off the ground. Startup investors like Mercia Asset Management and NorthInvest also support fledgling Yorkshire tech businesses, alongside government grants through Innovate UK and the Northern Powerhouse Project. Tech-focused research centres like the Institute for Data Science and AI (IDSAI) also have a huge part to play in startup growth, supplying resources, industry expertise and mentorship that allow them to interact and collaborate with like-minded organisations and academics. And, if you’re dipping a toe back into the industry after venturing away, organisations such as Tech Returners offer training and support to help people re-find their feet in the north’s changing technological landscape.

All in all, a rich, Yorkshire-based reserve of tech resources and startup support will attract tech enthusiasts – leading to growth, increasing the north’s competitiveness and allowing it to keep pace with other tech hubs in the country.

Bringing the (digital) party

Sure, it’s no Glastonbury, but Yorkshire has the indisputable honour of playing host to a number of dynamic tech festivals that draw experts and enthusiasts from far and wide.

Featuring workshops, hackathons, breakout sessions, keynote speeches and more, events such as Sheffield Digital Festival and Leeds Digital Festival bring leaders, professionals and tech buffs together in an environment where they can explore emerging trends and innovative ideas. At Advanced Dynamics, we’re all for this kind of collaboration. We strive to be a core part of Silicon Yorkshire’s growth and stay involved in the movement.

What’s more, these can’t-miss events provide an invaluable opportunity to network. Venture capitalists and startups alike can share plans and aspirations, and maybe – just maybe – the germ of a genius idea could be born. After all, it’s the ideal forum for startups to showcase their products, connect with like-minded individuals, or catch the eye of an investor.

And who knows? It could just be the start of a beautiful partnership. All happening in the heart of Yorkshire.

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Tom & Vanessa from Advanced Dynamics