Coders choosing Edinburgh over London, report finds

A growing number of coders employed in the booming digital technology sector are choosing to live in Edinburgh rather than London, an industry report has suggested.

Edinburgh is attracting tech start-ups from across the UK. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor/JP Resell

The Scottish capital was the UK’s fastest growing tech hub in 2017, according to a report from leading global developer community Stack Overflow.

It found Edinburgh’s developer population grew eight per cent in the second half of 2017, bringing the total developer population to nearly 20,000 - or seven developers per 100 people in the labour force.

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The number of data scientists working in the city grew 19 per cent over the same period - a sign that Scottish Government-backed institutions such as The Data Lab are succeeding in their push to drive more participation in the burgeoning data science sector.]

London remains the heart of the UK’s tech sector, Stack Overflow’s Q4 developer ecosystem report found, but the cost of living in the UK capital’s has been cited as one reason for the growing number of coders north of the Border.

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'˜Majestic pull' of Edinburgh is attracting tech start-ups

“Having been based in London, you quickly realise how easy it is to do business in Scotland,” Steve Coates, CEO of data analysis firm Brainnwave told The Scotsman in March.

“In Edinburgh, it feels like everybody is there to help you and wants you to succeed. You can’t underestimate that.

“In the wider start-up world there are a lot of people who think you will fail or are competing with you for investment and talent. But then you come to Scotland and it’s the opposite.”

The attraction of Edinburgh, with its three universities and supply of graduates, is obvious to start-ups. But the capital’s more traditional charms also help its standing in the tech world. “Relocating your family when you work for a start-up is a bit of a gamble,” added Coates. “You’re not working for a multinational that’s offering a relocation package.”

The latest research comes after Tech City UK’s 2017 report found that Edinburgh was the second strongest technology hub in the UK – securing more investment than any other tech cluster outside London.

Stack Overflow said that London remained home to the UK’s biggest developer population, with more than 300,000 people specialising in that area. Birmingham and Manchester have the UK’s highest developer populations outside London, at 40,300 and 39,000 respectively.

Glasgow trails behind with about 16,500 developers, or six developers per 100 people in the labour force.