Nexus Director, Martin Stow, looks back on an incredible year for our community

Looking back on a year of truly inspiring innovation and collaboration from our community, it’s usual to pick specific achievements and focus on topline successes.

But what to pick out and where to focus? The very nature of Nexus is that every achievement – big and small – is a shared enterprise, made possible because of the dynamic interaction between brilliant business minds, outstanding academic talent and the support and expertise of our region’s incredible public and private sector.

Every success story inspires another. Collaborative innovation is catching. And it attracts the attention of fellow entrepreneurs and the crucial investment community, making a vital contribution to our regional economy.

The news that by early autumn this year (2022), venture capital investments into Leeds tech start-ups and scale-up businesses had already increased by 88% on last year, clearly demonstrates the impact of innovators and communities like ours.

So I want to thank every one of our members, the Nexus and University teams and all our supporters and advisers for their part in this year’s story, which has not only seen the Nexus community more than double in size to 130 businesses, creating 175 new jobs – including 52 for University of Leeds graduates – but has also secured our international reputation, attracting global companies looking for a UK base to accelerate their growth. Businesses in Estonia, Norway, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Canada and the U.S. have now joined us and we have a strong pipeline of interest from across the world.

Indeed, such is the pace of growth, with businesses scaling rapidly within our community, we are looking at what that means for us in terms of grow-on space in the city – we’ll be sharing more about our exciting plans next year.

Two people having a conversation with people working behind them in the Nexus atrium

That continued growth has led to another exciting development this year, with the appointment of Gareth Scargill as Nexus Deputy Director. We’re delighted to welcome Gareth to our team and look forward to benefiting from his considerable business development expertise at the highly respected Oxford Innovation Centre and with business centres across the North of England. He’ll spearhead the continued growth of our membership as we attract high-growth companies on an international scale.

It’s interesting to note that of the over 130 companies in the Nexus community, half are in the healthtech sector, reflecting not only the strengths of the University of Leeds, but also the extensive assets across the city region, which is seen as a centre of excellence and innovation in healthcare, particularly in digital health. We’re also an integral part of the newly-launched Leeds Innovation Arc – the innovation neighbourhoods formed around our universities and the proposed new adult and children’s hospitals in the city – which is a really exciting prospect.

The theme of collaboration and partnership runs through this and every aspect of our community and remains the cornerstone of the Nexus-effect for innovation-led business growth. We’ll continue to nurture that theme through our increasingly popular Nexus Connect networking event series, which aim to bring our community and innovators in the region together to discuss new ideas, common areas of interest and opportunities for collaboration.

The feedback has been incredibly positive, with more than 90% of respondents who were surveyed after their attendance, telling us that they had been able to build new connections and more than half saying they had discovered new opportunities for collaboration. Nexus is specifically designed to cultivate innovation, both as a community of like-minded businesses and as a much wider network of entrepreneurs, world-class academics, partners and advisers. Thank you to everyone who’s part of this incredible process. I continue to be inspired by your achievements and can’t wait to work with you on more challenges, opportunities, ideas and innovations next year.

As the role of innovation as a tool for growth becomes more critical than ever, it’s by working together that we’ll continue to drive impact and value for businesses, the economy and society.