Inspiring innovation on an international stage

Leeds City Region takes its place on the international stage this week (January 2020) with visitors from across the world seeing first-hand how Leeds inspires innovation.

Photo caption: Team Leeds welcomes over a hundred leaders from government, business, universities, finance as well as entrepreneurs from across the world, who converge on Leeds City Region to understand more about the region’s strengths and ambitions to inspire and support innovation.

The visit is part of a prestigious programme, offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan Global Programs, which shares experiences of building innovation driven ecosystems in more than 50 regions around the world.

Developing its own ambitious plans for the city and region, Leeds is hosting the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP) international workshop, taking the opportunity to showcase its strengths to global leaders.

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and NP11 said:

“I look forward to welcoming leaders from government, business, universities and finance as well as entrepreneurs from across the globe to Leeds City Region next week for the next stage in the global MIT programme.”

“With 14 colleges and nine universities, we are home to one of the highest concentrations of Further and Higher Education establishments in the country which provides us with a wealth of opportunity for innovation, research and development.”

"In the Leeds City Region, we pride ourselves on our innovation heritage and believe passionately in the role we can play in unlocking potential not only here in the North but across the entire UK.”

The University’s innovation hub, Nexus, is hosting an Innovation Exchange event as part of the Leeds showcase, with an exhibition of organisations and networks that support access to talent, technology and investors.

International delegates will also be guided on special ‘innovation ecosystem’ tours, designed to reveal how Leeds currently inspires innovation, offering international delegates a chance to meet Leeds’ budding and established entrepreneurs. The tours focus on:

  • Creative cultures, fashion and arts - how Leeds has nurtured a range of creative entrepreneurs and social enterprises. The delegates will visit the iconic AW Hainsworth woollen mill and Patrick Studios, a bespoke venue for artists. They will also learn about Leeds’ Inclusive Growth Strategy and the big idea of maximising the economic benefits of culture, as well as East Street Arts and the Future Fashion Factory programme.
  • Financial technology – and why the Leeds City Region is recognised as one of the main Fintech hubs in the UK. Visiting CPP Group, Avenue HQ and Santander’s Work Café, the visitors will hear more about the start-up and scale-up experiences of entrepreneurs.
  • Future mobility – and how Leeds is supporting innovations in transport through immersive technology, modelling and simulators. The delegates will visit the University, Nexus and Arup, as well as hear from the Government’s Connected Places Catapult and the emerging technologies supporting the different ways we live and travel in towns, cities and rural areas.
  • Healthcare technologies – and the support which has inspired a diverse range of medical technology and digital health entrepreneurs in Leeds for many years. The delegates will visit Co>Space North and the NHS Horizon Conference Centre to understand more about the region’s successful spin-outs, networks and partnerships.

The Leeds Team in the programme includes leaders from the University of Leeds, Nexus, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Council, KPMG, Arup, Leeds Academic Health Partnership, Monroe K and entrepreneurs Adam Beaumont and Ben Ziff, with the various organisations and individuals hosting the ‘innovation ecosystem’ tours.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, from the University of Leeds, who leads MIT REAP Leeds Team said:

“We’re very proud that MIT has identified Leeds and the City Region as having the right ingredients to create a truly remarkable environment to support enterprise and inclusive growth,” said 

“To kick-start the week, we’re giving our international visitors a glimpse of how we’re creating an innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem, building on our history as a region that has always championed innovation, alongside new ways of inspiring, incentivising and empowering entrepreneurs and start-ups.

“We want to be known as a place where entrepreneurs can start and grow their businesses, where entrepreneurs, government, industry, finance and academia come together as a collective force, and where people can access the right networks and funding to take their ideas to the next level.”

Travis Hunter, Director of MIT REAP, said: “We are thrilled to bring this MIT REAP workshop here. At this workshop, MIT REAP faculty will be guiding the participating teams through the process of formulating a strategic approach and subsequent action plan to support innovation-driven entrepreneurship (IDE) in their regions.

“The team’s plans are designed with the intentional aim of having a long-lasting and sustainable impact in their respective and distinct IDE ecosystems. In this regard, Team Leeds is showing great potential and a great example in reinvigorating the region’s long history as a core part of the northern powerhouse in today’s digital age.”

Find out more information about Leeds’ place in MIT REAP, and its successful bid to host the MIT REAP workshop.