The rising tech startups of Yorkshire and Humber boasting big ambitions for 2021

Leeds Image credits: SAKhanPhotography/Shutterstock

According to the new data by Tech Nation and Adzuna, tech companies in Yorkshire and Humber raised £159 million in investment in 2020, beating 2018’s record level of £142 million. 

Despite the pandemic, the tech sector is flourishing with a total of 3,781 open IT-related roles. As per the data, there are 41,356 open vacancies across all industries in Yorkshire and Humber, meaning that nearly 10% of all open roles are in IT. 

Leeds top’s in IT-related job vacancies

Leeds is the top city in the region for IT-related job vacancies with 809 open roles, followed by Sheffield with 564. The top hiring firms in Leeds include SaaS provider Premier IT, commercial property agents Sanderson Weatherall and risk intelligence platform Crisp. However, Leeds is far from the only city that is home to a thriving tech ecosystem in the region.

Previous Tech Nation research shows that tech companies in the region turned over nearly £4 billion in 2019 and employ more than 53,000 people. 

Five Yorkshire-based companies named

Notably, five Yorkshire-based companies were named in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 for 2020 — Fleetondemand and Smart Search in West Yorkshire and Giacom in Hull, which was acquired by Digital Wholesale Solutions in November. 

It’s not only established businesses that are doing well with many newly-formed startups raising seed investment at the end of 2020 including Leeds-based healthtech and wellbeing company Hero, which raised £830,000, Sheffield AI startup Opteran which raised £2.1m and Ilkley-based fintech banking platform Icuto which raised £1.8 million.  

Minister for Digital Caroline Dinenage said: “Yorkshire is becoming one of our strongest tech hubs in the UK and it is great to see the benefits of this dynamic industry expanding across the whole region.” 

Dr. George Windsor, Head of Insights at Tech Nation said: “Entrepreneurs across the region have benefited from specialist investment and the establishment of strong local networks, which have all contributed to a flourishing tech cluster.”

In this regard, let’s have a look at the startups that have managed to grab huge funding lately.

The Meatless Farm

Founder/s: Morten Toft Bech

Founded year: 2016

Total funding: £42.4M

Last year, The Meatless Farm raised $31 million (approx £23 million) in funding to support its global strategy. The funding was led by new and existing and family office investors, all of whom have committed to sustainable investing. 

Based out of Leeds, the company has developed a plant-based mince, burger patty, and sausage. The company is on a mission to help people reduce their meat consumption by making swapping to Meatless easily.


Founder/s: Joe Gaunt

Founded year: 2018

Total funding: £2.3M

Leeds-based health and wellbeing platform secured £825,000 investment from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance back in December last year. 

The UK company was formed to have a positive impact on individuals, companies, and communities by supporting all types of healthy behaviour through services ranging from coaching and training to medical screening and health and nutrition advice.


CEO: David Rajan

Founded year: 2020

Total funding: £2.3M

Opteran, a spinout of the University of Sheffield raised £2.1 million in seed funding. Based out of Sheffield, Opteran operates as a natural intelligence company. 

It is developing lightweight silicon brains for use in robots and autonomous vehicles. As per the company’s claims, the technology is inspired by insect brains, which are small yet capable of sophisticated decision making.


Founder/s: Andrew Rabbitt

Founded year: 2016

Total funding: £2.6M

Ilkley-based fintech company Incuto raised £1.75 million in seed funding from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, the government’s Future Fund; Ascension Ventures’ Fair By Design Fund; and the North East Innovation Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Northstar Ventures. 

The company partners with Credit Unions and the Community Banking sector to develop financial technology aimed at helping everyone access low-cost, high-quality financial services.


Founder/s: Charlotte Harper, James Cox, Jonny Gould

Founded year: 2018

Total funding: £12.25M

Based out of Leeds, ITCH is a subscription-based pet wellbeing startup. Last year, the company raised £7.25M in early-stage investment from Accel Partners and Seedcamp. 

The company offers a quicker, cheaper, and more convenient alternative for preventing flea infestations, worming issues and generally providing preventive care for pets. Further, the platform also provides calming treats and skin, joint, and dental product add-ons.


Founder/s: Furqan Alamgir

Founded year: 2006

Total funding: £97.1M

Back in September 2020, Smart City operator Connexin raised £80 million funding to consolidate its position in the smart infrastructure and Internet of Things sector. Based out of Yorkshire, Connexin is a technology company specialised in building and operating Smart City Infrastructure to support the Internet of Things. 

The figures on the growth of Yorkshire and Humber’s tech industry are published as the Government’s Digital Economy Council and Tech Nation prepare to host a digital roundtable on 12 January to discuss the challenges facing the tech sector as it works to create jobs and help the region recover from the impact of the coronavirus on jobs.

Leeds and the rest of the north of England have one of the best infrastructures for home and business broadband. Leeds has become one of the digital hubs of the UK making it a breeding ground for successful startups. Broadband is an enabling aspect of business allowing people to start a business on their own home internet connection. You can check what speeds are available in your local area if you yourself are a budding entrepreneur.