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Leeds in top four ranking for tech growth clusters finds CBRE study

Jonathan Shires

has ranked fourth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa () in the Growth Cluster sector, according to the findings of a recent study by leading global real estate advisor, , into tech cities across .

The report – EMEA Tech Cities: Opportunities in Hotspots – provides a framework for occupiers and investors to measure the characteristics of clusters in economic, leasing and employment terms at regional and city level.

The analysis identifies four separate categories of technology cluster in the EMEA region, based on a city’s level, concentration and growth of tech sector employment.  This approach reflects the fact that technology clusters are very diverse in their structure, cost base and attraction to specialist technology sub-sectors. 

Leeds ranked fourth in the growth cluster category as a result of a double digit growth in tech employment since 2010, and its forecast significant further growth in the sector in the next 5 years.  This puts Leeds alongside Derby/Nottingham, Florence and Krakow as cities which are predicting significant growth often in niche sectors. Some cities have grown supporting other sectors, others are low labour cost destinations in and some are second tier cities and regional business centres. Many are cities that are “cool” to work in for lifestyle reasons, rather than having the legacy of an established tech sector.

Jonathan Shires, senior director, Office team at CBRE Leeds said: “Leeds has experienced significant Tech growth in the past few years which has started to change the way landlords refurbish and lease space.  We’ve seen many new entrants, including the recent announcement that Dahua Technology, the world-leading solution provider in video surveillance and security technology, had chosen White Rose in Leeds as its first Northern office.”

Stephen Fleetwood, head of location analytics at CBRE said: “These smaller, but fast-growing and often niche location clusters are perhaps the most interesting of all, as they demonstrate the footloose nature of the tech sector and the critical importance of labour and skills in the evolution of tech cities.

“Companies that drive this cluster are often not bound by legacy locations, or historical ties to cities or countries and real estate is not their primary concern, but simply an enabler.  The question of where to find tech labour is exercising many companies at present, and this grouping includes some non-obvious, but increasingly important locations with strong skills credentials.”

topped the ranking in EMEA’s largest technology clusters, according to research from CBRE, which covered capital cities and business centres with more than 70,000 people in tech employment.  ’s top position in this ranking is partly due to its ability to attract young millennial talent.

Its overall employment in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector has grown by 20 per cent since 2008, with its proportion of ICT employment at almost two and a half times the EU average. London has a strong sub-sector mix with no single activity dominating its employment, reflecting the city’s position as one of the world’s leading technology centres.

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