Life at The Data City

Our journey

The Data City is a tech company up that creates the best lists of companies in the UK’s emerging economy. Our industrial classification system for the new economy allows policy makers, economists, investors and analysts to understand the emerging economy and markets in real time.

We are working to replace SIC codes as the foundation of industrial data in the UK.

Our co-founders Tom, Alex and Paul have been building the Data City for years, often without realising it. Paul runs ODI Leeds, a pioneer node of the Open Data Institute founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and AI expert Sir Nigel Shadbolt. Tom is Head of Data at ODI Leeds, the lead programmer behind some hugely popular apps, and a frequent writer and commentator on industrial strategy in the UK. Alex is still heavily involved in the burgeoning Leeds digital agency scene having moved on from his role as owner of respected digital agency Bloom.

Our journey

Our journey started in 2014 with a shared realisation that the way we understand and classify modern industries is inaccurate and out of date. Policy makers, economists and investors didn’t have the data that they needed to do their jobs effectively. Promises of a replacement for SIC codes continually failed to arrive or offered little improvement when they did. The Data City had to exist to create those new classifications.

In 2016 and 2017 projects like the UK Tech Innovation Index helped The Data City match up its technology with the UK government’s emerging interest in industrial strategy. When the UK government’s independent review into the AI industry in 2017 used The Data City data because there wasn’t anything else it was proof that the ideas had value.

In 2018, The Data City completed work in Lille that showed us what was possible and valuable beyond the UK and we secured a breakthrough contract with Greater Manchester Combined Authority who were using EU funding to create an evidence base for their industrial strategy.

Technology and academic research matured to the level where The Data City became possible to build. Methods such as Jan Kinne’s “Predicting Innovative Firms Using Web Mining and Deep Learning” were published. Microsoft released ML.NET and updates to Visual Studio, .NET Core. Improvements to Azure made development and deployment of machine learning services at scale much cheaper and easier.

The Data City incorporated in 2018 having raised a six figure seedcorn investment to hire data scientists and user interfaces specialists. We invested rapidly in scaling up our technology and went from proof of concept to customer ready in a year with early support from KPMG and others as clients and super users.

Fast forward two years and we’re leaders at using technology and data to inform industrial strategy and investment decisions. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Leeds City Council, KTN, Portsmouth City Council, Optimat, Hatch, KPMG, and others see what can happen when they have access to data and insights that no-one else is able to produce.

Our clients are united by a shared need for real-time industrial data and emerging sectors. Our data service puts data and AI in the hands of users and moves from backward looking reports to real-time forward-looking data & insights on the web