Entrepreneurship ecosystem and support

Why is this important?

There are two reasons. The first is there is a need to ensure businesses in Bradford are adopting digital technologies to improve productivity and continue to be competitive.

It’s about helping our existing small-to-medium businesses – the foundation of our economy – to realise the benefits of fully developing their digital capability for their own future. They comprise 99% of all businesses, employ 132,000 people which is 58% of all jobs and contribute around 52% of all district annual output, which is £6 billion per annum. It will be those businesses that incorporate digital strategies that will thrive as they will be able to raise the profile of their businesses, provide better or new services to their existing customers and gain new ones.

We want all our businesses in our local area to have the infrastructure and connectivity, as well as the information, skills and capability, to engage with and benefit from digital technology. This strategy seeks to build on the many good initiatives already delivered or underway to ensure we achieve this goal.

Secondly, we need to support those businesses in the digital and creative sector whose products and services are centred on new and emerging digital technologies. We need to ensure the conditions are in place for a thriving collaborative ecosystem of support.

We want to ensure we develop high quality sustainable jobs. Evidence shows that jobs in the digital sector

pay well above average pay rates. A recent Tech Nation report noted that jobs requiring digital tech skills command higher salaries by an increase of over 30% compared to those that do not.

If we do not grasp, learn from and grow with the digital world, we risk limiting our potential to benefit from the digital future. Bradford will need to attract and retain the best talent from around the UK and beyond to be competitive.

What is our ambition?

We aim to be at the forefront of this new economy just as we have led before, through innovation and investment and by building on our strategic assets –

our people, our businesses and our places. We aim to be the UK’s fastest growing economy over the coming decade, increasing the value of our economy by £4 billion, getting 20,000 more people into work and improving the skills of 48,000 residents.

Where are we now?

Bradford is a big economy worth £11.6bn and is the eleventh largest city economy in England. It is the third largest economy in the Yorkshire and Humber region after Leeds and Sheffield.

Growth in the district’s Gross Domestic Product between 2014 and 2019 was 15.9% compared to UK growth of 18.9%.

Bradford is home to over 16,000 businesses employing around 250,000 people across the UK with a combined turnover of over £30 billion.

The district has a number of large headquarters including the grocery giant Morrisons, Yorkshire Water, Hallmark Cards, Arris and Yorkshire Building Society.

It has been identified as the best place in Britain to start a business, as ranked by Barclays Bank SME Growth Factors Index and we were listed as one of the top 20 cities for business growth by the Sunday Times in 2020.

Sector strengths include advanced engineering, chemicals, automotive components and food manufacture alongside financial services and digital technologies.

Bradford has 1,200 manufacturing businesses employing 27,000 people – 13 per cent of all employment compared to just 8% nationally and the 4th highest of any city in the UK after London, Birmingham and Leeds.

Our thriving digital sector already includes 700 businesses employing 4,500 people and is home to leading businesses such as:

  • Arris - a world leader in technologies, products and services for PayTV and broadband;
  • Radio Design - award-winning world leaders in wireless telecommunications product design,
  • ECSC – leading UK developer and provider of Cyber Security services,
  • BTL - an industry leader in e-learning and online training.

46,000 people commute between Bradford and Leeds each day, the largest flow between any two cities in the UK.

Bradford is the 4th largest metropolitan authority in England with a growing population of 542,000.

23.6% of the population are aged under 16 compared with 18.9% nationally making Bradford the youngest city in the UK.

Bradford has a diverse population with ethnic minorities making up 36% of the total population. There are 153 languages spoken by children attending schools in the district.

Bradford has been designated the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, Saltaire model village is one of only two World Heritage sites in Yorkshire while the National Science and Media Museum in the city centre is among the most visited museums outside London averaging 650,000 visitors a year.

An estimated 9.2 million tourists visit the district each year.

The advanced manufacturing sector in the Leeds City Region supplies mission critical components across  a diverse range of high value sectors. The region accounts for between 20% to 25% of the UK’s RF and microwave businesses in the UK, making the cluster both nationally and internationally significant. There are at least 65 companies in Yorkshire either designing and manufacturing RF and Microwave components, or in the associated supply chain. Bradford has an emerging cluster of these around the Saltaire corridor.

The Council also works in partnership to support the Northern Max Accelerator programme which is now in its 5th successful year with the aim to develop and grow the talented technology companies and supporting start-ups in Bradford District.

The key aims of Northern Max are:

  • Grow the digital/tech sector in Bradford and wider
  • Leeds City Region to create jobs and increase profitability
  • Establish Bradford as the place to develop your digital business
  • Increase collaboration, supply chain and innovation opportunities
  • Boost digital capabilities of new and growing business
  • Embed a legacy of success for the digital sector

We believe there are many positives to build on and with further targeted action we can ensure the right collaborative environment, and support ecosystem is in place to help accelerate growth.

What will we do?

  1. Bradford Economic Partnership will direct collaborative actions to shape future growth. Closer partnership working within the Leeds City Region will bring new investment and greater local influence on how and where resources are spent
  2. We will encourage a wide spectrum of creative activity and exciting We will develop a network of creative entrepreneurs and cultural organisations, incubating and providing peer support for creative start-up businesses and taking over unused spaces.
  3. Bradford has now been appointed as UK City of Culture 2025. The bid, driven by Cultural Places Partnerships seeks to capture game changing opportunities and platforms to tell the world about what Bradford can Digital, media and creative sector opportunities will be key and will create clean growth spin offs by bringing that latest cultural trends and digital tools to the district.
  4. We will establish peer group mentoring frameworks to nurture local tech start-ups.
  5. Develop support for growing social business and voluntary sector and establish model to support neighbourhood innovation, for example working with local partners to help develop and promote a “15 minute neighbourhood application”.
  6. Play a key part on the WYCA development of the Health Tech Strategy and bespoke programmes for, FinTech, CyberTech and the Creative Catalyst initiative developed by the LEP to help drive growth and establish an ecosystem for creative businesses.
  7. Review the case for a Creative Exchange Programme (CEP) bringing together academia, SMEs, individuals, public sector agencies and social enterprises who want to share and discover exciting new ideas, and collaborate to create compelling new experiences, products and services.
  8. Continue to support through business support agencies, that help local businesses to adapt and pivot to exploit developments in digital technology and drive innovation.

5 years on

What does ‘good’ look like?

  • There is a high density of high tech companies and of entrepreneurs with less reliance on legacy industries such as, low tech manufacturing and low wage service sectors.
  • There is a well-developed network and ecosystem with strong support services and collaboration with our local educational.