How Sheffield is emerging as the startup capital of the UK

How Sheffield is emerging as the startup capital of the UK

We were happy to be featured in unLTD magazine's May edition, writing about the recent events that have helped to carve out Sheffield's title as UK Startup Capital. You can find the coverage here or read the full copy below.

Sheffield and the wider South Yorkshire region emerged as the star of startups last month during a Yorkshire Tech Climbers event. Breaking tradition by hosting its regional launch event outside Leeds for the first time, the move by TechClimbers revealed that Sheffield’s tech startup scene isn’t just thriving, it's on fire.

Tech Climbers is an annual list that showcases scalable, innovative, product-led technology businesses in growth regions across the UK. This year’s Yorkshire launch welcomed a diverse range of founders and other players within the region’s tech ecosystem, as well as those from outside of South Yorkshire.

Sheffield Technology Parks (STP) CEO, Tom Wolfenden took to the stage for a Q&A,  explaining that residents at STP vary greatly in their nature, from SaaS (Software as a Service) and hardware provision, to quantum computing and biotech, but they all share one thing: the potential to create high value jobs.

“The core purpose of our role is to see economic benefit from the companies that we support,” he explained, adding: “and to see that feed through into other areas of the economy such as hospitality and culture, creating prosperity to the city overall.”

Asked why Sheffield is experiencing such an uplift in demand from ambitious entrepreneurs, he remarked,

“We tend to be quite retrospective when we talk about Sheffield and what makes it unique, but the Steel City thing is becoming a bit old hat. There’s a different narrative coming out of Sheffield now. Young entrepreneurs are coming to Sheffield and taking it at face value, they are seeing a new city centre being developed out of the ground. This is raising perceptions of the city as it is now, not as it was.”

April also welcomed the debut of UK Tech Week, providing a bigger stage to showcase and celebrate regional tech ecosystems nationwide. South Yorkshire naturally threw its hat into the ring, becoming an event partner.

Collaborating with Ampere.Events, Sheffield Digital coordinated and promoted a week of events for startups to meet, learn, collaborate, and amplify their stories. Marking the festival, SYMCA published a new report on the region’s tech ecosystem, underscoring its upwards trajectory with some eye opening statistics. With over 600 new tech firms emerging in 2023 alone, South Yorkshire registered record levels of startup activity and is now home to at least 4,588 tech firms, more than ever before.

A notable trend identified by SYMCA's research was the influx of tech companies from outside of South Yorkshire. In 2023, the region witnessed its highest ever rate of relocations, with nearly 30% of registered tech businesses migrating from other tech hubs across the UK.

This is definitely true of Sheffield Technology Parks, where we have witnessed a surge of startups from London and other UK cities. We’re hearing the same thing loud and clear: Sheffield has it all. Energy, talent, innovation, investment, access, collaboration and a quality of life that can only come from the UK’s greenest city.

Contrary to the city's modest reputation, Sheffield's tech startup scene now stands as a big, loud success. The narrative of "not shouting enough about ourselves" has been altered; Sheffield has earned its stripes as the undisputed startup capital of the UK and it’s no secret, our doors are open.

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