Leaders of Leeds: Meet the 10 fastest-growing tech startups of third largest city in the UK

Leeds startups

The UK’s regional tech hubs are thriving, and Leeds is no exception. This Yorkshire city is home to numerous innovative startups striving to uplift the growth of this region. As per the data from Dealroom analysed by UK’s Digital Economy Council, which coincides with Leeds Digital Festival, there is a surge in the amount of investment in startups from this city.

It stated that venture capital investment into Leeds startups increased by 88% in 2022 from £153 million in 2021 to £288 million already this year. The investments last year nearly increased by 5x from 2020 when tech startups secured £42 million.

Minister for Tech and Digital Economy, Damian Collins, said: “The sheer ingenuity and ambition behind Leeds’ tech sector is a force to behold. The city is a hotbed for startups and professionals driving new innovations to help us have healthier and more sustainable lives.

“These figures show people’s talent directly translates into new jobs and investment and I’m determined to ensure this growth and success in the city continues.”

Stuart Clarke, co-founder and director at Leeds Digital Festival, said: “We’ve been banging the drum for years that Leeds is an incredible place to set up and grow a tech business and it feels like all the hard work is paying off. We’ve built an amazing, supportive tech community in the city which is on hand to help new and established entrepreneurs as they scale their businesses and this is reflected in the brilliant number of startups, scaleups and corporates that call the city home. I’m looking forward to celebrating these achievements at Leeds Digital Festival and putting in place plans for how we can grow together in the future.” 

Will Smith, co-founder of Tred, said: “Leeds was a natural choice to build the UK’s leading green neo bank, thanks to its pool of both tech and finance talent. There’s nowhere better to start a fintech right now. Being in Leeds and operating a hybrid working model gives us access to talent from across the UK, whilst being able to tap into the strong local tech community. Leeds is also a leader in sustainability research, thanks to the University of Leeds and the Priestley International Centre for Climate. Plus, nothing beats a Yorkshire brew and the Dales!”

Paul Lewis, Chief Customer Officer at Adzuna, said: “Leeds is one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the UK thanks to its combination of growing startups and established corporations. It’s great to see the excitement and investment in the city translating into dynamic jobs. This positive growth is also being seen across the region, with tech hiring already up 49% across Yorkshire and Humber in 2022 compared to last year, demonstrating the wider impact of the UK’s tech industry.”

Already, we have seen Leeds-based startups RAW Charging, Caterpillar, and many others get funding so far in 2022. While these big names are known by many users, here is a list of other startups headquartered in Leeds and growing at a fast pace.

SwitchMobility ceo
Image credits: SwitchMobility

SwitchMobility

CEO: Andy Palmer
Founded year: 2014
Total funding: NA

SwitchMobility is a manufacturer of electric buses and vans. Their vehicles range from models such as EiV 12, EiV 22, eLCV, etc. A next-generation electric vehicle company ensures cleaner, smarter, ans better modes of transport with its next-gen vehicles. SwitchMobility delivers the future of urban mobility with its range of all-electric, net zero carbon buses and vans.

Event Genius team
Image credits: Event Genius

Event Genius

Founder/s: Reshad Hossenally, Zack Sabban
Founded year: 2008
Total funding: NA

A ticketing and event management platform, Event Genius, serves events of all types and sizes. It became part of the Festicket family and represents the most complete ticketing and technology offering in the live events industry.

The platform brings together ticketing, POS and cashless payment services, access control, travel and packages, marketing, data insights, and fan analytics, all under one roof.

XR-Games-founder
Image credits: XR-Games

XR Games

Founder/s: Bobby Thandi
Founded year: 2017
Total funding: $14.4M

XR Games is an award-winning game development studio specialising in immersive AR and VR games. The company works with major partners and internationally-renowned brands, including Sony Pictures VR and Rovio Entertainment, to create games for the rapidly-growing VR and AR market. It has created fantastic games for some biggest and most iconic titles, including Sony Pictures, Rovio, Lego, BBC, Dreamworks, and more.

In July, the independent games studio and VR developer, XR Games, scored £5.9 million in funding. The round was led by existing investors act media ventures (formerly known as ACT Capital Partners), Praetura Ventures, and Maven.

Taskbox-cofounder
Image credits: Taskbox

Taskbox

Founder/s: Ben Brown, Joe Coulson
Founded year: NA
Total funding: NA

One of the fast-growing startups in Leeds is a productivity software startup, Taskbox. The app lets you run a paperless workplace and create work, share with others, automate processes, collect data and complete tasks fast. This startup helps keep work simple, plan faster, get more done and be more productive. Various features offered by the product are task management, data collection, time tracking, and more.

RAW Charging ceo
Image credits: RAW Charging

RAW Charging

CEO: Bruce Galliford
Founded year: 2018
Total funding: $330M

RAW Charging is one of the largest UK electric vehicle charge point operators focused on destination charging. The company has established a network of EV charging infrastructure assets to enable EV drivers to charge their vehicles at their destinations, typically at workplaces, leisure facilities, or transport hub car parks.

In July, the EV charging point operator raised £250 million to accelerate its installation plan. The raise was funded by Antin Infrastructure Partners, a private equity firm focused on infrastructure investments and forms part of Antin’s wider deployment of capital in EV charging across Europe.

The Data City founders
Image credits: The Data City

The Data City

Founder/s: Alex Craven, Paul Connell, Tom Forth
Founded year: 2018
Total funding: NA

The Data City is an open data and AI platform, which is an alternative to SIC codes. The Data City is the new standard in industrial classification, exploring over 250 pre-built emerging economy sector classifications from AgriTech, FinTech to NetZero. Its AI/machine learning platform and expert network let users build any sector definition they require.

Late last year, The Data City secured a 6-figure investment from Venturian Funding and Investment Group. It will be used to support the UK and international expansion plans, and develop its AI platform.

Zest Eco ceo
Image credits: Zest Eco ceo

Zest Eco

CEO: Robin Heap
Founded year: 2021
Total funding: $39.6M

Zest Eco, a Leeds-based EV charging company is democratising EV adoption in the UK by rapidly filling the gaps in the maturing public charging infrastructure. It provides end-to-end charge point solutions for education, healthcare, construction, developers, transport operators, ports and local authorities. The Zest Eco team has already set up its nationwide charging networks in the UK.

Last year, Zest Eco raised initial funding of £30 million investment from the government’s Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF), which is managed by Zouk Capital.

Sky Betting & Gaming ceo
Image credits: Sky Betting & Gaming

Sky Betting & Gaming

CEO: Ian Proctor
Founded year: 2001
Total funding: NA

Another Leeds startup on this list is Sky Betting & Gaming, which has grown rapidly to become one of the leading operators in the UK’s online betting and gaming market. Through its strong partnership with Sky Sports, the startup is one of the first operators to recognise the potential of online and mobile platforms for betting and gaming.

Acquired by The Stars Group, it operates across a number of verticals, including Bet, its sports betting business; Sky Vegas & Sky Casino, its casino gaming businesses, Sky Poker and Sky Bingo.

Pharmacy2u
Image credits: Pharmacy2u

Pharmacy2u

Founder/s: Daniel Lee
Founded year: 1999
Total funding: $74.6M

UK’s first internet pharmacy, Pharmacy2U, plays a significant role in shaping the health agenda. Currently, it is the largest dedicated internet and mail order pharmacy, serving the growing number of people who are unable or unwilling to visit high street pharmacies.

Acquired by ChemistDirect, it allows prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and personal care products to be delivered directly to users’ doorsteps. It has introduced new and innovative services, such as electronic requesting of repeat prescriptions, the unique repeat prescription reminder service and prescription synchronisation that ensures patients are ordering and taking their medicines appropriately.

Communisis ceo
Image credits: Communisis

Communisis

CEO: Philip Hoggarth
Founded year: 2000
Total funding: NA

Communisis, which was acquired by OSG Billing Services. The company provides integrated marketing services in the UK and internationally together with its subsidiaries. It creates engaging content and delivers it across various customer touch-points, such as digital, broadcast, and print channels.

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