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Leeds Digital Festival has closed its virtual doors following a successful two-week online festival, which saw 134 events take place between Monday 20 April to Friday 1 May.

A range of high-profile events took place over the course of two weeks, including the launch of The Online Safety Technology Industry Association (OSTIA), a new industry body which is designed to highlight the importance of online safety technology in the current environment.

Key leaders in the space, including Sarah Connolly, director of security and online harms at DCMS and Adam Hildreth, founder and CEO at Leeds-based Crisp, came together online to launch this as part of the festival. 

In addition, the festival attracted events from numerous industries, with hosts including the likes of Tech Nation, BT, Deloitte and Barclays. 

Businesses hosting events as part of the festival attracted an international audience who, without this online format, may not have been able to attend otherwise. Across the festival, event organisers saw attendees joining from at least 46 countries and five continents around the world.  

This new digital format also enabled participating businesses to reach a larger and more geographically spread audience than ever before.

Successes included BJSS, who received a total of 2,190 sign-ups across its events, including 423 of these at its Imposter Syndrome webinar, and Fleek Marketing, who saw 748 registrations across three events. 

The festival’s organisers took the decision to split this year’s event between the spring and autumn following the COVID-19 pandemic and it looks to follow up the success of the online festival with a physical counterpart between 21 September and 2 October 2020. 

Stuart Clarke, festival director, said: “We are incredibly proud to have ended the festival on such a positive note. When we set out to pull together a virtual festival, we had hoped to attract anywhere between 30 to 40 events. To have 134 events organised in total over such a short period of time is incredible. 

“Even better, was the fact that not only did the regional community come together to celebrate innovation in Yorkshire, but that people from around the world also came to show support for the festival. This is a testament to the region’s growing reputation as an international technology hub. 

“I want to thank everyone who organised a digital event online, it was wonderful to see everyone pull together in these unprecedented times. We are all very much looking forward to seeing you all at the physical festival in autumn.” 

Alun Davies, director at Alun Davies Marketing, said: “This is the second year I’ve been involved with Leeds Digital Festival, and despite the switch to online I’m even more impressed with the number and quality of participants this year than I was last year. The festival has become a global brand: people attended my talks from twelve different countries, from Australia to Singapore, Finland and Canada.”

Partners and sponsors of the Leeds Digital Festival include Crisp, TPP, Leeds City Council, the University of Leeds and Channel 4.

Amanda Armstrong
Article by Amanda Armstrong
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