London dominates the UK technology industry but the Scottish capital of Edinburgh is well positioned to capitalise on a global tech market, The Times reports, possibly creating more unicorns in the process.
The number of startups in Scotland has increased 43% over the last five years to approximately 3,000, with Edinburgh reportedly having a growth rate beyond the rest of the UK.
John Peebles, an American CEO of Edinburgh-based training management software provider Administrate, told The Times that Edinburgh is in a “sweet spot” to capitalise on the global technology market.
One of the main reasons for this is because Scottish students get their university fees paid for, meaning they graduate without any debt and are therefore more willing to take a leap of faith and join a startup when they graduate.
“These people can afford to take a risk and are highly trained,” Peebles said. “It’s important that Edinburgh is a relatively cheap place to live and people can enjoy a good quality of life.”
Students in the US and England on the other hand are graduating with tens of thousands of pounds in debt and in need of a steady job.
It’s all very well getting a free education but the calibre of that education is what really counts. Fortunately, Edinburgh has several strong universities within its boundaries or on its doorstep, including Edinburgh University, Glasgow University, and St. Andrews University.
The increasing amount of interest from overseas investors in Edinburgh-based companies could also help the city’s startups grow into technology giants.
Edinburgh’s fast-growing digital companies like flight comparison website Skyscanner and fantasy sports website FanDuel have been backed by well known investors including Sequoia and Google Capital.
As a result, Edinburgh is one of the few UK cities outside London that has created technology companies with valuations in excess of $1 billion (£677 million), or “unicorns” as they are otherwise known.
The UK government is aiming to diversify the technology sector so that more large firms are created outside London. To date, however, there are only a handful of UK cities that boast companies with unicorn status, including the likes of Cambridge, Bristol and Edinburgh.