UK tech booming with Edinburgh scene racing ahead

Edinburgh saw the number of jobs in digital tech grow at more than triple the UK average in the three years to 2017, as the sector proved to be one of the best-performing in the UK, according to a report published today.

The capital was singled out as a key digital hotspot. Picture: Contributed

Unveiling its 2018 research, Tech Nation said the progress reinforced the UK’s ambition to be the best place in the world to start or build a digital tech business.

And it singled out Glasgow, Dundee and Livingston in addition to the Scottish capital as key digital hotspots.

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The study found that the digital tech sector is worth nearly £184 billion to the UK economy, up from £170bn in 2016.

Additionally, between 2016 and 2017 the turnover of digital technology companies grew by 4.5 per cent, compared to UK GDP’s 1.7 per cent growth over the same period, according to figures compiled by the organisation, which aims to help accelerate the growth of the sector across the UK.

The report also said the UK’s “Silicon Suburbs” and tech towns are flourishing, with 16 towns showing a higher proportion of digital tech employment than the UK average.

Livingston was highlighted as one area with above-average digital density – higher levels of tech employment – which could prove a fertile breeding ground for the next generation of tech start-ups.

Looking at Edinburgh, jobs in digital tech were found to total 9,704, while business turnover for the city reached £1.1bn and turnover by employee came in at £118,000.

Tech Nation also flagged a strong year for deals including big data outfit Aquila Insight being bought by Merkle.

Gareth Williams, chief executive and co-founder of Skyscanner, said: “We started in Leith after the dot-com bust – so we learnt from Silicon Valley blogs and articles. We still want to keep learning from the best in the world – as well as leveraging a now vibrant local scene. That is why we need to be able to attract more senior leaders from US and Chinese tech hubs.”

Turning to Dundee, digital tech business turnover was £181 million and turnover by employee £115,000. Tech Nation credited the University of Dundee and Abertay University’s computer science and gaming courses with giving companies an “edge” in games.

And it noted Chris van der Kuyl and Paddy Burns, founders of Minecraft games developer 4J Studios, having launched Water’s Edge, a new co-working space for businesses with an appetite for innovation on the city’s regenerating waterfront.

As for Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city saw digital tech business turnover total £1.1bn and turnover by employee amount to £104,000. Tech Nation also credited The University of Strathclyde’s Space Tech Institute for its research and successful spin-out businesses.

Eileen Burbidge, chair of Tech Nation, said it is crucial “to keep supporting this sector and give British companies the best chance they can to grow and scale.”