Blog: Smart tech trends with David Aspin

We catch up with David Aspin, founder of Munroe K, to discuss the innovative plans for White Rose Office Park, why he's attending Smart City Expo and trends in smart tech.

Tell us about your role and Munroe K

I founded Munroe K, a Property Investment and Development company, in 1995 to create a business that was really focused on delivering schemes that meet the needs of tenants. Our flagship development is the White Rose Office Park and I’m delighted to say it is now fully let and home to global brands like HSBC, Capita and most recently, digital live sport streaming leaders DAZN. I’ve always been drawn to Leeds and have seen the city, and region, redefine itself, and is now deservedly gaining a reputation as a fast-growing tech hub.

Why is Leeds City Region a smart choice of location for tech companies?

It’s a combination of factors. Attracting talent is a key consideration. The nine universities in the region produce 38,900 graduates annually, 15,000 in STEM subjects, more than any other region in the North. Quality of life is critical to retaining a loyal workforce and the breadth of accommodation and lifestyle options within easy commuting distance is appealing.

Networks and collaboration are also vital to growing tech companies and we have a really supportive ecosystem here. DAZN cited ‘the space and facilities to continue to expand’ its global footprint and Leeds’ reputation as ‘one of the UK’s most influential media hubs’, when it announced its new office at White Rose Office Park earlier in the year.  

How are you embracing smart tech at White Rose Office Park and what plans do you have for the future?

At White Rose Office Park we have ambitious plans which will see it and Leeds at the forefront of innovation and new technologies. In the near future we hope to open our first Innovation Hub on site and our ambition to regenerate the area to create ICON (The International Centre for NewTech) would create in the region of 10,000 new jobs on a 72 acre development that will create a mini smart city within Leeds city. I see autonomous vehicles and smart technology play a key part in our vision, with ground breaking buildings planned, Munroe K are the vanguard for creating environments where industry, academia and entrepreneurs can collaborate and solve the problems of today and the future.

What smart tech trends are you seeing in the requirements of new occupiers?

Occupiers increasingly want a space that offers collaboration, coworking and networking spaces to increase innovation and creative thinking. Workspaces are getting smarter too, and will start to replicate smart homes with more efficient heating and lighting, as well as smarter communication technology allowing workers to collaborate regardless of their location.

Wearable technology is a growing trend aimed at tracking movements within spaces and helping to alter behaviours to enable greater efficiencies of space and time in the workplace. We are also seeing more demand for technology that improves the wellbeing of employees such as sensors that monitor screen time, stress levels and good posture, as well as smart parking to intelligently assign parking spaces, something we have embraced at White Rose Office Park.

Why are you joining the Leeds City Region delegation at Smart City World Expo this year and who do you want to speak to?

This will be our third year attending Smart City Expo as part of the Leeds City Region delegation and we’re delighted to be a key sponsor of this years event. This year sees the largest delegation from our region, with an impressive mix of both the public and private sectors. It shows the community we are building and the confidence in our vision that Leeds City Region is a place where lives are transformed by tech. 

The Expo is a global hub that attracts 20,000 delegates; it’s a benchmark event for urban development, a great place to network and to promote the region and all the great things we have going on here. I’m looking forward to making new contacts, learning about the latest smart tech trends that we can utilise to improve our park, and speaking to decision-makers in digital companies.

Click here to find out more about Leeds City Region at Smart City Expo.