Tech City Contender: Edinburgh
EdinburghΓÇÖs tech scene definitely has something Silicon Roundabout doesnΓÇÖt ΓÇô a rich Scottish heritage which is still going strong in the 21st Century. But of course, thatΓÇÖs far from the only reason to choose it as home for your tech startupΓÇª
ItΓÇÖs got a thriving tourism sector, an international reputation for culture ΓÇô but whatΓÇÖs perhaps less well known is EdinburghΓÇÖs success as a tech startup base. The city is home to some of the UKΓÇÖs fastest growing tech startups and, according to the FT, should be placed alongside London and Cambridge in terms of the strength of its tech scene, which accounts for 244 of the 1600 university spinouts launched in the UK since 2001.
Much of the cityΓÇÖs tech scene can be found clustered around the city centre where businesses can maintain close connections with the university and, of course, each other. TechCube, one of the cityΓÇÖs best known startup spaces, is based just a fifteen-minute walk from the Quartermile offices of Skyscanner; EdinburghΓÇÖs most famous tech success story.
WhoΓÇÖs based here?
According to Tech Britain, B2B solutions account for 20.5% of Edinburgh tech businesses, with content-driven businesses making up a further 18.7% and B2B tools another 12.1%. The city also has a healthy gaming industry, which makes up another 8.4%.
Notable startups on EdinburghΓÇÖs tech scene include:
- Skyscanner ΓÇô flight search engine recently named in the Deloitte fifty fastest growing tech firms list. Also named by Silicon Valley Comes to UK (SV2UK) on their recent list of tech companies likely to make ┬ú100m
- Free Agent ΓÇô cloud-based accounting services; named on the Deloitte fifty fastest growing list
- VegWare ┬áΓÇô green technology developer; named on the 2013 Deloitte fastest growing list
- Fanduel ΓÇô award-winning online sports contest
- RelayMed ΓÇô diagnostic healthcare software
- Blipfoto ΓÇô photo diary software
- Cloudsoft ΓÇô cloud-based business software
- Stipso ΓÇô infographic publishing tool.
When it comes to Edinburgh startup space, the first name on most peopleΓÇÖs lips will be TechCube. The incubator programme provides what it describes as ΓÇ£world class space for technology startupsΓÇ¥ ΓÇô which means mentoring and networking opportunities alongside flexible office space. Based in a modern office block, the space also brings digital businesses and artists together, resulting in a highly creative vibe which is more than a little reminiscent of Shoreditch.
Alternative support can be found at Silicon Walk ΓÇô a recently established co-working space for high-growth startups ΓÇô or at The Hatchery Edinburgh which provides an accelerator programme for startups and is run by Entrepreneurial Spark.
Yet more incubator space and support can be found at the Edinburgh Technology Transfer Centre, where businesses can receive business development advice, attend workshops and benefit from the knowledge and research being conducted at the University of Edinburgh.
Edinburgh tech community: learning and networking
Thanks to a vibrant tech startup community, the learning and networking opportunities for businesses based here are numerous.
For business-focused networking, Mojo Works events bring together Edinburgh-based entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers, while the Edinburgh EntrepreneurΓÇÖs Coffee and Success Club is about sharing business knowledge. For a supercharged learning and networking opportunity, The Edinburgh Startup Weekend gives participants the chance to learn more about founding a startup ΓÇô through a hands-on, fifty-four-hour challenge.
Tech specialists may also like the regular TechMeetup event held in the Appleton Tower at the University. These meetings provide an informal space for tech workers to chat and share ideas without all the business speak.
Looking for an even more informal meeting spot? The combination of great coffee and free Wi-Fi at Brew Lab on South College Street has made it a hit with the cityΓÇÖs tech scene.
EdinburghΓÇÖs tech talent pool
With four universities in the Edinburgh area, tech startups choosing the city as their base have access to a graduate talent pool which covers everything from artificial intelligence to digital arts, entrepreneurship to public relations.
- University of Edinburgh: Tech startups should look out for graduates in: Computer Science (with or without Artificial Intelligence studies), Software Engineering, Advanced Design Informatics, Animation, or Design and Digital Media, along with graduates across a wide variety of business specialisms.
- Edinburgh Napier University: Courses taught here include Advanced Software Engineering, Advanced Security and Digital Forensics, Computer Science, and Digital Arts, along with Business & Enterprise and other business degrees.
- Heriot Watt University: On the outskirts of Edinburgh, this university offers undergraduate degrees in Computer Science with a variety of specialist tracks including Games Programming and Software Engineering. At postgraduate level, courses include Advanced Internet Applications, Artificial Intelligence and Creative Software Systems. A range of business courses are also offered.
- Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh: Just outside of the city, this university also offers a selection of business courses, including the MBA, Business Management, and professional courses from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
What next for the Edinburgh tech scene?
EdinburghΓÇÖs reputation as a location for tech startups is continuing to grow. Success stories like that of Skyscanner are helping to bring the Scottish capital to wider public attention ΓÇô this surely will only help to further stimulate an already thriving tech scene.
Edinburgh or Glasgow? Or maybe even London? WhereΓÇÖs the best place in the UK for launching a tech startup? Tell us what you think.
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