Glasgow jumps up ‘digital destination’ league – CBRE study

Edinburgh and Glasgow are among Britain’s top ranking “digital destinations” according to a new report by property consultancy CBRE.

Glasgow climbed three places to become the UKs second top tech destination outside London, and just behind Manchester. Picture: John Devlin
Glasgow climbed three places to become the UKs second top tech destination outside London, and just behind Manchester. Picture: John Devlin

The firm’s “Tech Cities” study ranks the top UK locations for tech businesses, based on a range of factors such as level of education, concentrations of existing tech firms and employment, cost of living, cost of office space and wage levels.

Following an inaugural survey in 2017, and using the same methodology to analyse data on 65 towns and cities throughout the UK, the new report provides an update on the top 25 locations.

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It highlights various shifts in the cities’ tech and creative industries’ profiles over the past two years, with Glasgow climbing three places to become the UK’s second top tech destination outside London, and just behind Manchester, while Edinburgh maintains third spot outside the UK capital.

CBRE Scotland chairman Doug Smith said: “The fact that Scotland’s two principal cities are ranked so highly in the UK outside London is an incredibly positive story.

“The digital tech sector added £14 billion to the UK economy in 2018, up 8 per cent since 2016, and the sector is growing three times faster than the rest of the economy.

“The creative industries sector – which encompasses businesses from tech to media and telecoms – is therefore fundamental to the future success of Scotland.”

Commenting on Glasgow being named the UK’s second top tech city outside London, Andy Cunningham, senior director, CBRE, said: “It’s a real coup for the city but, as it’s home to some of the world’s most creative and talented engineers, architects and designers, and is now attracting a new generation of innovative tech start-ups with a strong focus on data science, it’s no real surprise.

“We tend to think of Glasgow’s tech industry being focused along traditional sectors like banking, finance and insurance, however it’s pleasing to see other growth sectors operating at the cutting edge of alternative disciplines including biotechnology, artificial intelligence, space science, financial technology and computer games technology.”

Stewart Taylor, head of CBRE advisory and transaction services, added: “The diversification of Edinburgh’s occupier market away from its traditional pre-crash financial core is a success story of its own. However, the city must not take its eye off the ball.”

For computer science degrees, Glasgow was ranked joint first with Manchester.

Steve Coates, chief executive of data intelligence tech business Brainnwave, said: “Scotland is lucky to have a perfect storm of assets and opportunities that support tech industries. It is not just the fantastic universities and wider talent base, or the connectivity and entrepreneurial culture, it’s the holistic approach to supporting growth, driven by the Scottish Government and its agencies.

“We are a case study for what a holistic approach to a sector can do – we have the freedom to focus on our strengths, and the support to make our business stronger.”