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February 19, 2016

Why Leicester might be the next BIG thing in Digital Tech

When people talk about “digital tech” clusters in the UK, you might be forgiven for thinking of London, Bristol or Cambridge; the larger players within the industry have reigned supreme for decades and as such have always enjoyed a built-in advantage when it comes to attracting both talent and investment.

Since 2010 however, the landscape has changed across the country and numerous new clusters have emerged to challenge the silicon landscape of the UK tech scene.

Many areas which traditionally have missed out on the same levels of growth and investment within technology have emerged, such as Manchester in the North West which has successfully transformed itself into a top 5 player within the UK from a relatively small base just 6 years ago.

What many people don’t realise is that the East Midlands has a hidden digital gem in Leicester. The city has seen a whopping 30% growth within digital employment in the region since 2014 and now has over 21,000 jobs across the area within the digital sector itself, an incredible number for such a geographically small location.

When analysing the success of this emerging tech giant, we can look towards the academic scene in the area to see just why more and more tech companies are deciding to set up shop in the area. With three impressive universities within a stones throw of the city centre and the University of Leicester being ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide, the stage is set perfectly for graduate level talent to easily find roles within the East Midlands thriving start up scene.

Outside of the start-up world, global players such as IBM have caught on to the benefits of investing in the area and have recently relocated their Client Innovation Centre within the city. This move, coupled with a number of thriving companies such as and CrowdLab also establishing themselves in the area show a digital scene which is bursting at the seams with ideas and creativity.

The economic footprint of this fantastic work equates to £386m of GVA to the region which, to put into some context, is larger than either Liverpool or the Greater Sheffield area, both of which have thriving tech communities which are far more established.

So Leicester, along with its East Midlands neighbours Derby and Nottingham, is enjoying a spectacular renaissance as the local economies shift from their traditional manufacturing scenes and now encompass a truly creative digital sector, for which it should be rightly proud. 2016 looks set to be a record breaking year already and I for one look forward to seeing what the future holds for the region as a whole.

Mark Williams is the Software Team Leader at Nixor Consulting and focuses on working with the East Midlands top tech talent. He is also the founder of The East Midlands Talent Centre which aims to provide a platform for software professionals across the region to collaborate ideas and stay connected with the latest news and projects coming up within the area. for more information.