Showcasing our digital expertise
Colleagues across the University are preparing to showcase their digital expertise as part of a packed programme for the largest tech event in the UK.
The University is hosting a series of exciting events as part of this year’s Leeds Digital Festival
Leeds Digital Festival (LDF) has announced the full schedule for its latest instalment of the hugely popular tech showcase, with more than 240 events – some of which will be hosted on campus – taking place between Monday 18 and Friday 29 September.
Now in its eighth year, LDF is an open celebration of digital culture in all its forms. The Festival harnesses the magic of the Leeds tech ecosystem’s unique collaborative spirit, and showcases the digital enterprise and innovation happening in the city on a regional, national and international level.
Digital transformation is also at the very heart of everything we do at the University. It’s our vision to work with staff, students, alumni, partners and our local and global community to harness digital technologies to enrich our activities, tackle global challenges and reduce inequalities.
Through our digital transformation strategy, we aim to bring to the fore creative and innovative digital and data approaches that really elevate our ways of working, our research capabilities and our student learning experiences.
With both the University and Nexus executive sponsors of this year’s Leeds Digital Festival, we’ve organised a rich and varied programme of events to shine a light on some of this exciting work. From neuro-brain mapping to a virtual escape room, there really is something for everyone to take part and be inspired.
Among the many highlights (see our full listings below) will be a showcase of both our digital library services and HELIX – our new digitally-enabled space to explore the world of immersive technologies, such as extended reality (XR) and virtual reality (VR), to create cutting-edge content. This space includes state-of-the-art equipment, including prototyping equipment, multimedia studios and the UK’s only Omnideck, which allows unrestricted motion inside VR environments.
Professor Jo-Anne Murray, Pro Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation, said: “We’re proud to be an executive sponsor of this year’s Leeds Digital Festival. This partnership allows us to share our research expertise with a bigger audience and connect with a wider community of digital innovation experts.
“Our digital transformation strategy is opening up a whole new world of research-led educational possibilities. We’re using digital technologies and approaches to enhance our students’ learning and experience, improve our infrastructure and tackle global challenges. One example of this is HELIX – our brand-new digital learning space for students, staff and the local community – which we’re excited to launch at this year’s Festival.”
Making connections that count
Nexus is equally proud of the role it’s playing to bring people together to help them make connections that count when it comes to all things digital.
Our innovation hub is hosting a wide range of events during this year’s Festival, with topics ranging from healthtech to finance and data.
Gareth Scargill, the new Nexus Director, added: “Leeds is a thriving hub of innovation and digital culture. At Nexus, we’re passionate about bringing together the brightest minds from business, technology and academia. Leeds Digital Festival offers the perfect platform to do this, bringing together innovators from across the city and region.”
Commenting on the launch, LDF Director, Stuart Clarke MBE, said: “This year hundreds of events will inspire delegates and encourage collaboration to highlight the strengths of the digital community in the city. The programme has something for everyone, with events ranging from a data conference and kids coding club to sustainability, cyber-security, AI and computer-aided design.”
Beyond Books: Digital Library Showcase
Date: 28 September, 11am to 3pm
Location: Library Makerspace, Edward Boyle Library
Event details: This event will showcase how our libraries are harnessing digital technologies to preserve and share our rich cultural archives and to foster students’ creativity and skills. The library’s digital learning team will introduce you to our new makerspace, where we will be guiding students through a range of tools and techniques (3D scanning, modelling and printing, games design, media production and editing) that will enable them to turn their ideas into realities. You will also hear about our Digital Creativity and Cultures Hub, where we are employing machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, corpus linguistics, image recognition and extended reality to digitise our rare and unique cultural collections and make them available to a global community.
Register to attend the Beyond Books event.
HELIX Showcase: Blueprint for a Digital Campus – Explore, Drop-in, Do
Date: 28 September, 11am to 3pm
Location: HELIX, Level 7, EC Stoner Building
Event details: Join us at HELIX, our new digitally-enabled space, to explore the world of interactive technologies at Leeds. From virtual reality to data science, podcasting and more, find out how we’re bringing a digital campus to life. You can:
- join tours and demos of HELIX
- test our XR Omnideck; and
- hear from our data scientists on our LIDA (Leeds Institute for Data Analytics) Development Programme
Virtual Bee-ality: Education and Engagement with Insects in VR
This demonstration is built on the Gravity Sketch platform, which allows users to employ a range of interactive and creative tools. Learners are guided through a series of rooms that offer an opportunity to engage with 3D, fully textured insect models based on scans of real insect specimens.
In this workshop, participants will learn about how advances in neurotechnology are revolutionising our ability to understand the brain. You’ll get to see how your brain activity changes as you perform different actions and, in the process, you’ll contribute to science, as the data you generate will be used to help advance neuroscience research taking place at Leeds.
Improving Student Outcomes in the Legal Classroom
This workshop will introduce participants to innovative pedagogy – namely, game-based learning (GBL). GBL takes advantage of gaming technologies and techniques to create a fun, motivating and interactive learning environment that increases student engagement and foster critical thinking.
Register to attend the HELIX Showcase event.
Explore | Media and Design Studios
In the media suite – our new, commercial grade, state-of-the-art film studio – the Production and Creative Team in the Digital Education Service will be running sessions showcasing our production capabilities, from pieces to camera with autocue, greenscreen, talkback and live vision-mixing, to multi-person, multi-camera complex production scenarios. Within the self-recording booths, you can experience our high-end, do-it-yourself solutions supported by our experienced production team. There will also be an opportunity to lend your voice in our podcasting suite.
In the XR development space, our highly skilled animators will be demonstrating how 2D and 3D animation is created and incorporated into video outputs or deployed into virtual reality environments. You will have the ability to try out a number of our VR resources, including inside a working pathology lab, visiting the Jurassic coastline of Exeter or being part of a busy, clinical environment, all without leaving HELIX!
The digital design team will be on hand to showcase examples of how well-designed outputs that prioritise accessibility can significantly enhance the usability and engagement of learning resources, and our Learning Technology team will be showcasing some of our latest developments in truly interactive learning.
Other University events
International Innovators: A global approach to solving health challenges
Date: 19 September, 9am to 1.30pm
Event details: Nexus and Propel@YH bring together innovative healthcare startups from across the globe for an engaging and dynamic discussion around innovation in health. Hear in-depth insights on a range of topics, including HealthTech, MedTech and FemTech, aiming to help solve real-world problems.
Register to attend the International Innovators event.
Edtech Inspirators: A career in coding with Click Start
Date: 20 September, 2-2.45pm
Event details: Thinking about a career in the digital industries? Kickstart your digital career by joining educators from the University’s Click Start project to find out what a career in tech is really like. Ask questions during this YouTube Live session and learn how to be successful in the industry with the digital skills you need.
Register to attend the Edtech Inspirators event.
Date: 20 September, 4.30-6.30pm
Event details: A relaxed networking event where Nexus members, researchers and business leaders can connect over drinks and nibbles. Hear about the opportunities for collaboration from various Nexus members and take a tour of the new HELIX facility.
Register to attend the Nexus Connect event.
Building a Data Factory
Date: 20 September, 11am to 12 noon
Event details: Data is the lifeblood of all organisations, and without effective curation and access to data, businesses struggle to manage day to day tasks – let alone implement strategic transformation. Monica Jones, Chief Data Officer, and Robert Moores, Senior Project Manager, from the University share how the Regulatory Reporting project is using the cloud-based Azure Data Factory service to deliver the HESA student return – a key statutory requirement for the University.
Register to attend the Data Factory event.
Hack For Good – Digital Leeds
Date: 21 September, 8.30am to 6pm
Event details: Join Nexus member, Tracsis, and Leeds City Council in their mission to help Leeds become a great place to work, for everyone. With five tracks to choose from, you’re invited to come together to showcase innovative solutions to the productivity and digital skills challenges in Leeds.
Register to attend the Hack For Good event.
Beyond Breakfast: Putting the ‘Fun’ Back in Fundraising
Date: 26 September, 8.30-10.30am
Location: Banyan Bar and Kitchen, Leeds
Event details: An informal breakfast event powered by Nexus and KPMG. We’re bringing together investors and entrepreneurs to explore the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’ of early stage fundraising.
Register to attend the Beyond Breakfast event.
Bridging Trust and Research: Exploring the Secrets of a Secure Environment
Date: 27 September, 11am to 12 noon
Event details: Trusted Research Environments, Data Safe Havens, Secure Data Environments… call them what you will, the concept of segregated research spaces where data can be analysed in secure isolation is gaining traction across sectors. Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) has been successfully running the Leeds Analytic Secure Environment for Research (LASER) for a number of years, enabling and empowering research that would otherwise be untenable with partners such as the NHS, Leeds City Council, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, the Office for National Statistics, regional police constabularies and the Parole Board. It allows for international collaboration on data that’s unable to leave the UK, providing assurances to both public and private sector partners that their data is safe. In this session, members of the Data Analytics Team will give a tour of LASER; what it is, how it works and a taste of what it’s been used to achieve so far.
Register to attend the Bridging Trust and Research Event.
Understanding Financial Vulnerability: Challenges and Opportunities
Date: 28 September, 12.30-5.15pm
Event details: In 2022, Dr Nabi Omidvar and Professor Iain Clacher initiated a project funded by Leeds University Business School (LUBS) to delve into the concept of financial vulnerability. This event will share the project’s key findings, explore prospective use-cases and establish a platform for stakeholders to engage in meaningful conversations.
Register to attend the Understand Financial Vulnerability event.