Edinburgh among UK hubs competing globally as tech clusters

Report finds Scots capital on list as having generated at least two 'unicorns'. Picture Neil Hanna
Report finds Scots capital on list as having generated at least two 'unicorns'. Picture Neil Hanna
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Edinburgh ranks among cities competing on a “global scale” as a tech hub, according to a study unveiled today that flags UK regions punching above their weight compared to top European capitals.

The research has been prepared for Tech Nation and the UK Government’s Digital Economy Council by venture capital analytics company Dealroom.co. And it comes ahead of secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport Jeremy Wright’s first meeting with the Digital Economy Council tomorrow .

The report compares the UK’s capital and its “thriving” regional cities with prominent tech hubs in Europe, saying the UK is now home to 15 “unicorns” – defined as tech start-ups that have achieved a valuation of at least $1 billion (£770,000).

It added that six cities have produced unicorns, and noted Edinburgh’s contribution with travel giant Skyscanner and data consultancy group Wood Mackenzie. Also on the list in addition to London are Leeds, Manchester, Oxford and Cambridge, with the latter two having generated more fast-growing tech companies than Paris and Berlin.

The report found that the UK has created 60 unicorns in total, equating to 35 per cent of Europe and Israel’s 168. It also noted that four out of the top ten global universities are in the UK, as are eight of Europe’s top 20 universities.

Additionally, the study said the UK leads Europe by number of potential future unicorns. The UK has 54 potential unicorns or firms worth $250 million to $1bn, with the total value of such growing companies $18.6bn. In contrast, Germany, the closest competitor in Europe to the UK on this measure, has 28 unicorns with a value of $8.8bn.

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said Edinburgh, along with Manchester, is “now competing on a global scale and stellar tech firms are growing right across the country, spreading new jobs and investment”.

Skyscanner chief executive Bryan Dove said: “Having started our journey from our first office, in Edinburgh, over a decade ago, our growth continues to be bolstered by world-class talent coming out of Scotland’s universities and the flourishing tech-start up community in the city.”

It was revealed in June that Edinburgh is to host that Scotland’s first artificial intelligence and blockchain 
accelerator, while Amazon revealed last week that it was creating up to 250 jobs by expanding its development centre in the city.

Doug Gurr, UK country manager at Amazon, said: “The UK is taking a leading role in innovation in Amazon and that is why we are planning to create over 1,000 highly skilled jobs in the country’s tech hubs of Manchester, Cambridge and Edinburgh.

“Over the last eight years, Amazon has invested more than £9.3bn in the UK because of the very strong talent and engineering skills that we find here.”