Bradford’s inaugural technology week to highlight the city’s digital industry has been hailed a huge success with organisers promising to make it an annual event.

Anila Baig spoke to the brains behind the event, Bradford Means Business’s Tim Rogers, to find out about the week’s highlights.

SCHOOL, college and university students across the district took part in a host of activities including a series of interactive workshops, virtual tours of local businesses and an online journey around Bradford exploring the video games industry for Tech Week. The aim of the event was to showcase all the education and careers available in the digital industry and raise the aspirations of young people.

Mr Rogers said he was inspired by the annual Bradford Manufacturing Weeks and Science Festival.

“It seemed clear to me and our partners that Tech would fit neatly into October and create Bradford Skills Month.”

Passionate about highlighting the importance of tech and also redressing the imbalance in the city, Mr Rogers said: “The pandemic has illustrated the importance of technology in real terms now that we have seen schools, universities and businesses switching to online. However, long before coronavirus we were witnessing a widening gap in skills, aspiration, productivity and inequality in our city which had to be addressed.

“Our young people were in real danger of been left behind, we have the youngest city in the country and therefore a huge talent pool and labour force, with the right skills Bradford has the opportunity to thrive.”

But there is real disparity in the city.

“We have approximately 100,000 students across the district with roughly 30,000 of those without access to the internet or a suitable device outside of school or college. We need to ‘level up’ the digital divide between those who have opportunities and those that don’t.

“We are not victims, we have everything we need right now to change things and go in whichever direction we see fit. In order for us to achieve that we need to come together more and work more in collaboration which we are doing with Bradford Manufacturing Week, Science Festival, Literature Festival and Tech Week.

“There is much more to do and we will play our part in achieving that and making sustainable changes and encouraging people to upskill and be shown the pathways into well paid, sustainable, high skilled employment.”

He drew upon his own experience when at school.

“I used to think that if you wanted to have a great career you had to move to the London or the South East with many people I went to school with doing that. I myself moved out of Bradford and went to Hong Kong. Although an amazing experience it isn’t necessary now, there are jobs in Bradford (and probably always were) that you can get which will give you well paid, sustainable and high skilled employment.

“Tech Week has to provide that awareness so that young people, parents and teachers know that there is a very strong, vibrant and bright future here.”

He thanked the sponsors and supporters who made the event possible.

“Thank you to the businesses, schools, colleges, CTE, Council, University and the LEP who have provided content which you can find on the Bradford Means Business YouTube Channel and through the workshops we have run in the week with my huge and grateful thanks to Exa Networks, Innovateher, CityFibre and the University of Bradford. The contributions and collaboration are really powerful and needed in order to provide meaningful change to our district.”

He said he was proud of the week’s events but he had one particular highlight.

“We received an email from a parent who wasn’t able to get their child on one of the workshops through a conversation and working to disadvantage circumstances we were able to provide a bespoke course which really shows the intent and commitment of the partners and I am incredibly proud of that achievement.”

His views about job opportunities in Bradford were echoed by Alan O’Donohoe from Bradford based digital company, Exa Networks which was one of the sponsors of the event.

“The aim was to show people the value and potential in Bradford. It is thought that if you have talent in tech then you need to go to London but actually there is a thriving digital industry here and people come from other cities to work here.

“We had planned a lot of events before the pandemic so had to switch up some of the activities but it’s meant that they are now online and available all year round for schools to fit around their timetables.

“The response from the schoolchildren was fantastic. They were saying ‘Wow, we had no idea that the gaming industry was so big in Bradford’, it was an eye-opener.

“Ultimately we want to raise the aspirations of the young people in the city.”

Dr Kim Johnston from CityFibre, the UK's third national digital infrastructure platform which provides connectivity to businesses, residents, local authorities and mobile operators, said she was happy to be part of such a pioneering event.

“It’s been great to be part of Bradford Tech Week and support and encourage young people to find careers in the tech and digital industry.”

She is one of the most senior females in the tech industry as manager at CityFibre and said it was important to encourage more girls into the field.

“It is not as bad as the construction industry but tech is still heavily dominated by males and we want to encourage more young women to consider careers.

“For any industry to be successful you need diversity and that means people with all kinds of skillsets like creativity and imagination. It’s not all geeks and nerds!”

For more information about Bradford Tech Week go to