According to the latest ONS (Office of National Statistics) data, Leeds is one of the UK’s leading centres for fast-growing firms, behind only London and Cambridge for business scale-ups: companies which have achieved three years of 20% growth in revenue or employees.
Currently Leeds has the UK’s largest city region economy outside London, with a GVA – the value of goods and services provided in the area – of over £64.6 billion, 121,630 businesses and a 1.37 -million-person workforce*. So, it is no surprise that Leeds is a firm favourite for start-up businesses, attracted by the city’s booming financial services sector, medtech expertise and world-class research and development capabilities.
With companies such as NHS Digital and Sky Betting & Gaming based here, alongside vast numbers of start-ups, which started life here, Leeds is appealing to entrepreneurs across the country. According to Companies House data, Leeds ranked above the UK average with a 5.5% increase in the number of businesses founded in 2018 compared to a 5.2% rise nationally.
Nexus is set to capitalise further on that entrepreneurial spirit, building on the University’s incredible track record: over 100 spin-out companies, six of which now have a market value of over £500m on AIM.
Here’s a look at some of the great start-ups which began in Leeds:
Spun out of the University of Leeds in 2006, Tissue Regenix has reshaped the process of decellularization with its patented technology dCELL®. The advanced medical technology removes DNA and cellular material from tissue and allows the patients cells to create new tissue for the body. The potential implementation of dCELL® takes on key clinical needs such as wound care and heart valve replacement. In 2012, Tissue Regenix opened its first subsidiary office in San Antonio, Texas and in 2016 went on to establish GM-V, a Tissue Bank in Rostock, Germany.
Launched in 2014, Cocoon has transformed home security with a single device. The AI device uses multi-room Subsound technology to detect unusual activity throughout your home and alerts your mobile instantly, so you can check up on your home on-the-go. It was recently announced that Robin Terrell, previously MD of both Amazon UK and John Lewis Direct, had joined the board as Chairman, shortly before raising £2.46 million on popular crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to help drive their growth.
Founded in 2012, with support from SPARK (the team of experts at the University of Leeds that provide a range of support to entrepreneurs and start-ups), RebuildingSociety is a financial services company with a mission to connect businesses with investors. The initiative supports companies’ growth and offers quick access to funds, bypassing the banks through peer-to-peer lending, encouraging partnership between investors and businesses. Since its launch seven years ago, RebuildingSociety has facilitated over £10 million in loans from more than 200 applications for finance.
Using cloud computing to help businesses solve problems, Alscient works with big corporations, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. The company also plays an active role in Leeds’ development as a tech hub. In 2016, Alscient was responsible for bringing the Big Data Week event to Leeds, the first time it was held outside of London.
A new device that you can plug into any outlet in your home, WiFiPlug controls your electrical appliances from your mobile phone, tablet or voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. So, if you’re out and filled with dread that you’ve left your hair straighteners on, you can turn them off on-the-go. This simple home automation device can be controlled from anywhere in the world using the app. The device also allows you to observe in real-time, what energy your electrical devices are using. WiFiPlug has been trading for five years, shipping products to 72 countries around the world.
What next for Leeds as a centre of brilliant innovation and business acumen? We’re watching this space.