Edinburgh’s Thriving Tech Community

Hannah Dimsdale

Why Edinburgh is a Great Place for Tech.

Among other great inventions such as the telephone, the bicycle, the deep fried Mars bar, penicillin and Andy Murray, GearedApp too was born here in Scotland. With such fantastic attributes, what is it that makes Scotland such an excellent place to start something new? Brad Feld, author of Startup Communities thinks that he has the answer.

He said that there are four key ingredients to make entrepreneurial ecosystem within a city and with Scotland’s history, and pre-existing natural resources, it seems that Edinburgh has these components and more, giving Edinburgh the edge to become one of the UK’s most enterprising tech hubs.

These ingredients are:

1. Entrepreneurs must lead the Startup community

Feld broke down the components of the ecosystem into leaders and feeders. The leaders being entrepreneurs building their businesses, and feeders being the government, universities, investors, mentors, service providers and big companies supporting these entrepreneurs. Though he said that the two must exist together, the entrepreneurs must be the ones driving the movement.

Scotland is an entrepreneurial nation already, Edinburgh’s history reflects this. Entrepreneurs have continued this tradition for years and are indeed leading the way here in Scotland. Being a small nation, these entrepreneurial leaders are more accessible than in other cities, making the path of aspiration feel real. Here is a link to Andrew Dobbie’s story told at the SIE Summit about making his creative agency MadeBrave which is well worth a watch.

2. The community must have a long term commitment and vision

The Scotland CanDo framework, backed by the Scottish Government has a vision for Scotland to become a world leading entrepreneurial nation. This shared statement of intent is inclusive for the nation as a whole, implying that we must all work together to achieve this goal.

Sarah Ronald recently wrote an article on why fintech startups should be looking to Scotland and she said that Scotland’s alignment with Europe amidst global uncertainty is a real opportunity for business. She said ‘With its existing reputation and connections, Edinburgh is poised to become the heartland of European fintech.’ With a new specialist fintech hub, backed by the UK and Scottish governments set to open in May 2017, this is just one of the initiatives in Scotland helping us to maintain Scotland’s place within the emerging fintech sector

3. The ecosystem must be inclusive to anyone who wants to participate in it

With this united framework is designed to create a grassroots journey for businesses and Edinburgh is a place where many sectors are involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This means that whether you are a consumer, a student or from a big corporate there is space for you to become involved. There are more companies being created than ever. In 2016 Edinburgh was named number 6 in the UK’s startup hotspots and with a record number of Startup Loans being distributed meaning that companies from all sectors are emerging.

4. Entrepreneurial events that must include everybody

Edinburgh has a whole range of events that are open to everyone.  There is everything from Creative Edinburgh’s Creative Circles, an informal monthly coffee morning at CodeBase Europe’s largest Technology incubator, DataFest a week long festival of data all the way to EIE a technology investor showcase. By simply attending one event can lead to many more contacts, people and possibilities. It is much easier to be a big fish as one of the benefits of Edinburgh is that it is a small pond, meaning that people in the know are easily accessible.

With Edinburgh already being home to billion dollar companies such as Skyscanner and Fanduel with international companies such as Amazon and Microsoft setting up bases here, the tech community is well and truly developing making fertile ground for even more growth in the coming years.

It feels as though the tech landscape in Scotland is only just getting started and we are so excited to be part of it.