Edinburgh is best UK location for growing technology businesses but office space is becoming scarce

Scotland’s capital city is the best place for tech companies looking to scale up, access funding, and do business in, according to a new Government backed report examining the UK’s tech landscape. Edinburgh tech companies responded with the highest approval rating in the UK when asked to assess how good their city was for ‘doing business’ – a combination of sub factors including access to finance and talent – as part of The Tech Nation 2018 Report – an annual series that captures the strength, depth and breadth of digital tech activity in the UK which employs over one million people. Although 62 percent of Edinburgh’s tech community are satisfied with local access to affordable office space, commercial property firm JLL, who sponsor the report, said one of the main challenges which now faces a burgeoning tech industry in Edinburgh is the room to accommodate continued growth of the sector.

Tech Nation surveyed the UK Tech Community on doing business, people, living and growth. 3,428 people responded to the survey, the majority of which were tech founders and people working in the tech sector.

Edinburgh’s tech community was more positive than anywhere else in the UK on opportunities to scale up locally, according to property firm JLL, who sponsored the report. When comparing eight UK clusters, JLL’s analysis found that 87% of Edinburgh’s tech community rated the opportunities for high growth digital companies to scale up in Edinburgh as positive, followed by London (79%), Birmingham (71%) and Leeds (70%).

While all tech communities in the UK found access to finance a major challenge, Edinburgh respondents ranked most positively (38%) when it came to their experience in accessing funding. Cardiff and London came in next at (31%), while only 13 per cent of people working in Thames Valley were confident routes to finance were easily accessible.

Edinburgh’s tech credentials are well known, with the University’s School of Informatics having nurtured countless spin-out firms to reach global success. Fueled by the 4 universities the city has one of the fastest growing, most highly qualified and productive populations in the UK with one of the UK’s most educated workforce (55% educated to degree level or higher). Indeed two of the city’s largest tech employers remain Skyscanner and FanDuel.

However, recruiting skilled workers remains a key challenge. Only 27% of Edinburgh’s tech community were positive on recruiting skilled workers.

Craig Watson, director within JLL’s office agency team in Scotland, said “Edinburgh is clearly a great place to be for tech firms and very popular for millennials to move to. Aside from opportunities for growth, access to finance and getting down to business, there is also real value when it comes to the annual cost of running an office, especially when compared with other cities like Bristol or Birmingham. The key issue for Edinburgh is building new Grade A office stock, and refurbishing existing stock quickly enough to meet this rapid growth. The future is certainly bright for Edinburgh as it transitions from a hub of finance, to one which also packs a mighty punch when it comes to producing some of the world’s most productive and profitable tech employers.”

The first Tech Nation report was published in 2015 to help develop an understanding of the vibrant digital tech landscape in the UK. The 2018 Report continues to map the evolution of the UK tech sector, assessing 8 UK locations – Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, Thames Valley and London. 3,428 people took part in the 2018 survey.