Inhabitants of Leeds might have noticed a new addition to the Leeds skyline. Nexus, the University of Leeds’ new innovation hub, is spread over 5 floors and situated on Discovery Way, a new entrance to the campus from Woodhouse Lane. Nexus seamlessly connects business to the research expertise, facilities and talent at the University of Leeds, and marks a step change in the way the University works with industry.
Nexus aims to be at the forefront of facilitating the growth of combined technology and innovation-led business growth across the Leeds City Region, so it’s no surprise that Nexus is taking an active role in the Leeds Digital Festival. We talked to Nexus’ Network and Events Manager, Alan Gallacher, about what’s coming up.
“I always attend the digital festival as a delegate,” said Alan. “It’s a really great celebration of the City and I think it shows how well-connected Leeds is, and how successfully everybody in the City works together. It’s a great opportunity for a civic celebration of all things digital.”
Alan and his team will be taking a leading role during the Festival and showcasing what Nexus and its community have to offer. “We are hosting four events as part of this year’s Festival,” he said. “Kicking off proceedings is an evening talk with The Data Shed and Amazon Web Services which takes place on Tuesday April 23rd. Then next up we’re excited to be hosting the University’s Digital Education Service (DES) Showcase Event on Wednesday May 1st.”
Of course, that’s not all. On Thursday May 2nd, Nexus will play host to an event called Women in Leeds Digital, or WiLD for short. Describing it, Alan said: “I really can’t take any credit for this one. The event is being led by a powerhouse consortium of successful women in Leeds across all different businesses and sectors. They’re coming together to create a day that showcases the amazing work that women do in the digital sector, as well as the career opportunities there are for young females to get into tech roles.”
WiLD’s mission is to enlighten the women of Leeds, and beyond, to the range of career opportunities available within the digital sector, and this will be the first of many events to come. The event spans the whole day, with the agenda being planned by WiLD. Alan continues: “We’re thrilled to be facilitating this event and to have the opportunity to work alongside such an inspiring and important initiative. We’re looking forward to seeing the fantastic programme they are putting together.”
The final event to be held in Nexus during the Festival will take place on Friday 3rd May. Nexus has teamed up with FinTech North and colleagues in Leeds University Business School (LUBS) to create a brand new event, aimed at the FinTech sector – Leeds FinTech Day. The day is a showcase of everything Leeds has to offer to this sector, and will include the opportunity for attendees to network with academics and other university professionals.
“The main objective of Leeds FinTech Day is to connect the Leeds regional FinTech ecosystem to the university,” said Alan. It will be suitable for all levels, whether you’re a one-person startup, an SME or a multinational corporation. “There will be breakfast and networking followed by some bite-sized pitches and a panel discussion about the future of FinTech in Leeds.”
“If you want to find out more about the research capability and wealth of expertise available at the University of Leeds and learn more about the FinTech ecosystem in Leeds – this is the event to come to.”
The event will also include the opportunity to find out more about the University’s new Msc Financial Technology qualification.
So, why has Nexus decided to get involved with the Leeds Digital Festival? According to Alan, it’s complementary to Nexus’ plans with their year-round programme of events: to bridge the gap between businesses in the City and the University of Leeds’ research expertise and facilities.
“Nexus symbolically is the new entrance from the City into the University campus via Discovery Way, and it should make it easier for people in the Leeds City Region and beyond to access the University, which feeds back into what we’re trying to do here with Nexus,” he said.
Alan explains “Both the events Nexus is running and involvement in the Digital Festival as a whole are really important to us. We have a fantastic community here at Nexus and it’s great for us to be showcasing what the University has to offer, making new connections and joining in celebrating all that this great City is achieving”.
There are plenty of ways businesses can benefit from collaborating with Nexus. “Our team can help with a huge range of things, from helping to navigate the funding maze for a new collaborative research bid or business idea, to helping access world-class research equipment” said Alan. “We can also help businesses access the very best graduate talent or continuing professional development courses that can help upskill teams.”
So what can you do to get involved in the Nexus community? As Alan put it: “Come to the event, first of all, and find out more about Nexus”. From there, a member of the Nexus team will happily talk to you about how the University can help meet your business needs.
Nexus is clearly much more than new building; it’s a bridge between business and academia, with bold plans and something that could help boost Leeds’ digital sector to new heights. But don’t take our word for it; come along to the Digital Festival and see for yourself! Or, if you can’t make any of the events, visit nexusleeds.co.uk for more information”.
You can see details of Leeds Digital Festival’s full programme here.