Leeds is playing host to Google’s latest digital initiative, ‘Digital Garage‘, aimed at getting businesses online and helping them grow to reach new customers.
Opened on March 30th, the project includes mentoring sessions for entrepreneurs, a digital ‘tune-up’ service for SMEs and events organised by a number of local partners. As well as this, Google is working with Code Club Pro, Computing at Schools and Raspberry Pi to train local teachers in some computer science and coding through workshops, events and online resources.
So why Leeds? Katie O’Donovan, Public Policy and Government Relations Manager at Google said: ‘We looked at the number of small businesses in cities across the UK and then we looked at the number of digital businesses in each city, where there was the biggest potential.’
‘We contacted the council and some local community organisations in Leeds who were really keen to bring the Google project here. With hard work and leadership on the part of the council and developers Allied London, we were able to come to the city quickly and launch in a fantastic venue.’
Leeds boasts an impressive number of digital businesses already, with a thriving hub of digital marketing agencies, app builders and other tech companies all having their home in the formerly industrial city.
‘We’ve had a long history of getting British businesses online. We know the potential of digital but we want others to realise and benefit too. Through the work we’ve been doing we’ve helped 250,000 businesses already, but there’s a lot more to go,’ Katie said.
The aim is to make sure that London isn’t the only UK city considered to be a technology hub. Alongside the Tech North initiative, there has been a recent move which has seen investment outside the capital and into other cities where there is already a burgeoning digital market.
The Digital Garage initiative is planned for four more cities in 2016 after the successful launch in Leeds.