Following a market opening for the 2023 European City of Culture which has Leeds as the current frontrunner, we spoke to Head of Corporate Affairs at Sky Bet Adam Smith.
Sky Bet has recently expanded in the city, and is a big believer in the government’s Northern Powerhouse scheme.
SBC: As a company which has generated over £140m for the Yorkshire economy in one year (2015), and one that continues to expand its workforce there, you’re clearly big believers in the city of Leeds?
Adam: We love being headquartered in Leeds and have recently expanded into a brand new building in the Wellington Place digital hub, just a five minute walk from the train station. Number 6 is now home to our new purpose-built innovation space which is great news for our people, our partnerships and our projects.
It’s really positive to help develop the city’s tech story though our employees and our premises – last year we created one in every 100 digital jobs in Leeds and we must be one of the only digital companies in the world with a roulette wheel roundabout and an indoor putting green for meetings. These talking points and our continued investment, recruitment and recognition as one of only two tech unicorns in Yorkshire, help fuel the good news about Leeds.
SBC: Since SkyBet’s move from Harrogate have you seen a great deal of digital and tech firms moving to the area? A lack of transportation, especially from Manchester, has been mentioned as a clear barrier to Yorkshire being able to attract more workers/companies…
Adam: Leeds digital is thriving and events such as the Leeds Digital Festival showcase our diverse tech scene, the wealth of career opportunities and the great lifestyle on offer.
We are a city of scale ups and public health tech, digital arts and media, social businesses, start-ups and big data. Recent research we commissioned did reveal that concerns about a potential commute to work are a major factor in people not willing to consider taking a job in Yorkshire – which supports research from the CBI that a cut in travel times from Leeds to Manchester and/or Sheffield to 30 minutes would boost the Leeds city centre economy by 10%.
Our CEO Richard Flint has been very vocal on the need to be collaborative with neighbouring cities and for Government has to move fast on transport plans that make it easier to commute between cities like Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
SBC: Is Leeds winning the 2023 Capital of Culture an important step in the government’s Northern Powerhouse strategy?
Adam: It would certainly be great news for the city and a very opportune moment to share an eye-opening narrative with the rest of the world.
The Northern Powerhouse sits primarily across the economy, transport and education, however culture in all its forms is an important driver in prosperity and well-being and therefore an intrinsic part of the success story of the north.