Setting a new standard for workspace in the Leeds city region sounds like a fairly lofty ambition. But that’s exactly what we set out to do when we officially opened the doors of Platform, last November.
In the 12 months since, Platform has surpassed all of our expectations – not only redefining what a workspace can and should be, but playing an integral role in the success of the businesses it hosts and the wider Leeds City Region economy.
Just take a look at the figures. Platform was 95% let or under offer within 9 months. Its tech incubator, which was only officially launched in April this year already supports 67 businesses and, in all, the building is home to a total of 87 companies. Platform also hosted upwards of 300 events for and on behalf of the businesses based here. The community is thriving and it’s no accident. From its very beginnings Platform has had business growth written into its DNA.
We wanted to raise the bar in the city’s office market – providing a gateway to Leeds’ digital and tech sectors and establishing a landmark destination for the region’s top businesses. Platform’s tech incubator, supported by Leeds City Council’s Tech Hub Fund has been key to achieving this vision, but it’s not just the incubator that is geared around growth.
At Platform we’ve created spaces that are designed to support businesses at every stage of their journey - everything from early startup through to that next stage of growth where a business evolves from a two-person to a 12-person venture and beyond. This flexible, adaptive environment has already helped us to support a number of businesses to move to the next level.
Take Harrogate digital agency 9xb, for example. After several new business wins and increased requirements from existing clients 9xb, needed a place to expand to support its growth. The firm opted for Leeds and Platform and has never looked back, extending its Platform-based office three times since opening and growing from an initial staff of 5 to 23, creating 13 jobs. Managing Director Rob Burns says: “We knew that, if we were successful, we could grow within the building because Bruntwood’s business model supports that.” Rob also points to Platform’s collaborative community and “varied programme of tech and social events” as helping to drive business success.
Platform was designed to make sure the people and businesses within it had as many opportunities to collaborate, collide and co-operate as possible. At Bruntwood, experience told us that the co-location of start-up and established global businesses enables open innovation, collaboration and growth and this can happen by ensuring that different types of ventures can easily mix in co-working spaces and having access to the best expert support.
Businesses can benefit from social and networking events such as industry talks and seminars, health and wellbeing sessions and mindfulness classes facilitated by Wendy our community engagement manager. Where possible, we use local suppliers such as North Brewing Co, Yoga Hero and Laynes Espresso who are all based within minutes of here. Many of our events take place on the rooftop terrace, particularly in the warmer months, with great views over the whole of Leeds. It recently proved the perfect place for much of the photoshoots and interviews to celebrate the news that Channel 4 would be moving to the region.
So, Platform is so much more than a building. It’s a growth enabler and, in a small amount of time, has made a big impact on the Leeds inward investment scene. One of the biggest indicators of this came when Reed Smith Global Solutions, part of the global law firm Reed Smith, made Platform the home of its first Northern UK office and, in the process, praised Leeds as a place where business can flourish.
In fact, the organisation responsible for inward investment, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership has acknowledged that Platform is having an impact in attracting new names to the city, with Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, saying. “Platform has been a real success story and very attractive to new investors we have worked with.”
It’s safe to say that Platform is blazing a trail for next generation office space in the Leeds City Region and we want it to stay at the forefront of the market. By continuously evolving and adapting the space, services and community that Platform has to offer we’ll help many more businesses to grow, boosting regional growth, creating high value jobs and fuelling international collaboration and investment.
But why stop at that? A successful building should also be part of a city’s fabric and we’re making sure that Platform has something to offer the arts and culture scene too. As sponsors of Leeds Digital Festival, we launched our tech incubator space on the first day of the festival in April this year and look forward to continued support again in 2019. Platform became home to the150ft-tall, 36ft-wide Athena Rising mural, the UK’s tallest mural and a collaborative project between Bruntwood, East Street Arts, LeedsBID, and the artists, Nomad Clan. We’ve also championed digital artwork from Leeds Beckett University art students, graduates, staff and practising artists as part of our curatorial programme. With so much already achieved in the space of a year, the future for Platform, like the businesses within it, holds endless possibilities.