Why is Edinburgh breeding UK technology start ups?

In recent years, Scotland’s capital has become something of a hot-bed for technology start ups. But why is it such a good place for new entrepreneurs to flock to when starting up their businesses?


To begin with, Edinburgh has multiple physical qualities which make it particularly well-suited to fostering new businesses. It is a convenient point for commuting and travelling to meetings, equipped with trains, buses, trams, and an airport and located only an hour away from the next largest city, Glasgow.

Edinburgh contains some of the very best science parks and research centres in the whole country, meaning new technological developments, discoveries, and innovations can always be supported. In addition to these, there are large amounts of start-up premises available to allow people to get a team together and get to work.

There is also the fact that Edinburgh is a beautiful city in itself, with plenty of shopping, restaurants, entertainment and historical sites. It’s the perfect place for people who have been worn out by much larger cities like London, while still being well connected.


Talented population

Edinburgh is seemingly filled with creative and intelligent people. A number of innovative individuals are taking the plunge, starting up new businesses and creating talented teams of staff to foster real business growth. Almost 300,000 people in Edinburgh – a majority of the city’s population – are within the working age group, with NVQ Level 4 or higher.

The presence of 3 leading universities in the city (University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University, and Heriot-Watt University), means there’s a wealth of new talent and innovation. The University of Edinburgh has actually recently reached its highest ever position in global rankings, being named the 17th best in the world. In 2013, Edinburgh’s physicist even won the Nobel prize for the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle, showing the extent of Edinburgh’s innovation in just one area.

Financial support

TechCube, an incubator programme in Edinburgh, provides start-ups in the city with office space, opportunities for networking and mentoring support. There are also generous government-backed schemes in place to create the financial opportunities necessary to turn brilliant ideas into commercially successful business ventures: in the past five years, the University of Edinburgh supported a total of 184 start-ups. Investment in university-founded businesses has also recently broken its own records, reaching £237 million for 2014/2015.

A history of excellence

It’s not just the talented pool of new graduates that new companies can draw from. There is already a wealth of experience in the area from some large names in the industry. For example, Rockstar North, creators of the highly successful Grand Theft Auto series, are based in Scotland’s capital. Also resident are Skyscanner, the travel search engine which gets over 25m unique visitors every month.

Edinburgh also attracts international companies, with Amazon, Dell, BSkyB and Selex ES all maintaining a presence in the city. These key players house a varied range of teams in the city, which take advantage of the local skills to cover such areas as research and manufacturing, website development and technical support

Startup successes

So with all of the above factors in play, it’s no surprise that tech startups are flourishing in the city. Each year brings new companies that are becoming some of the best innovators in Europe. Don’t believe us? Check out these recent startups that hail from Edinburgh.

Zonefox – Internal threats to security and revenue are not only the hardest ones to predict, but also potentially the most damaging. Zonefox provides an easy to use suite that allows the user to securely monitor internal users without affecting worker productivity or system stability.

Kotikan –  Kotikan has proven itself as a leader in its field by making quality bespoke apps for a number of high profile clients. By following a policy of working closer with the customer they can ensure that they build exactly what the client wants. With apps under their belt for organisations such as Skyscanner, events such as the Edinburgh fringe festival and even museums and art galleries, Kotikan have proven themselves as being highly adaptable.

Mallzee – A mix between a shopping app and a social media site, Mallzee offers a customisable experience for shopping fanatics. With an impressive catalogue of fashion retailer, from high street shops to exclusive boutiques, the app sets out to make shopping fun again. With the addition of a fashion centric blog and some great ideas, this is a brand that will just go from strength to strength.

Clearly, then, Edinburgh has a lot of the ingredients to create the perfect environment for the growth and development of technological start-ups. While a lot of cities have created countless ingenious ventures, the place to be right now seems to be Edinburgh, so if you’re looking at starting a new business, you know where to go!

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