Edinburgh must build appeal to tech firms, says property chief

Edinburgh has great potential to build on its status as a location for globally recognised tech firms, but faces obstacles including a lack of both suitable office space and workers, according to the chairman of the Scottish Property Federation.

'Let's see what we can do as a city,' said Paul Curran. Picture: Lesley Martin

Paul Curran said he would like to see the capital grow considerably to be a really “vibrant and exciting” opportunity that attracts people as it leverages its existing appeal, which includes strong connectivity and quality of life.

“Let’s see what we can do as a city,” he told The Scotsman.

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It comes as research found that availability of suitable office space in Edinburgh has dropped to record lows, with the tech sector accounting for almost a third of take-up so far this year. The industry now also comprises one in eight businesses in the city.

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Curran added that for both start-ups and companies looking to scale up, the challenge is convincing investors “that they do have a long-term plan and they are a sustainable risk in terms of office space”, although he believes many big institutional funds are coming around to this way of thinking, and he sees loss of talent abroad as one of the biggest hurdles to firms for growth.

He also heads Edinburgh’s Quartermile development, which houses travel search website Skyscanner and sports entertainment business FanDuel, both valued at more than $1 billion. Looking at Skyscanner, he said news that it is being acquired by China’s Ctrip.com in a deal worth about £1.4 billion is “exciting, especially because they grew their business here”.