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Glasgow & Edinburgh Ranked as Leading UK Tech Destinations

Ross Kelly



The cost of living, wage levels and access to world-class academic institutions puts Edinburgh and Glasgow in the top three places outside of London for tech companies. 


A report published by commercial property consultancy CBRE underlines Scotland’s growing reputation as a leading destination for technology companies.

The ‘Tech Cities’ report, which ranks the top UK locations for tech businesses, highlighted Glasgow and Edinburgh as prime locations for companies to do business in. The report scored and ranked cities according to a wide range of locational pull factors, such as level of education, the concentration of tech firms, cost of living, office space and wage levels.

Interestingly, it shows the various shifts in both cities’ tech and creative industry profiles over the past two years, with Glasgow climbing three places to become the UK’s second top tech destination outside London.

Edinburgh retained its position in third place following the inaugural CBRE study in 2017, while Manchester was ranked the top city outside of London.

CBRE Scotland Chairman Doug Smith commented: “The fact that Scotland’s two principal cities are ranked so highly in the UK outside London is an incredibly positive story. The digital technology sector added £14 billion to the UK economy in 2018, up 8% 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.”

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Both cities scored well across the range of factors taken into account by the report. With generational diversity, the concentration of tech professionals and a strong creative arts legacy identified as key factors by CBRE.

Additionally, both cities are also advantaged by high levels of educational attainment, as well as access to a number of world-class academic institutions; all with strong research and computer science degree rankings.

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Other key findings include:

  • Glasgow ranks joint-first with Manchester for studying computer science degrees, with Edinburgh ranked in fifth.
  • Both cities have significant numbers of Information & Communications SMEs, with Edinburgh and Glasgow ranked fifth and seventh respectively out of a 65-strong pool.
  • A large ratio of millennials (Edinburgh 28.5% and Glasgow 24.2% of the population), also contributes to the pull factors of both cities.

Scottish Government Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, Kate Forbes, said: “It is great to see Glasgow and Edinburgh once again recognised as powerful twin centres for tech investment in the UK. With only 45 minutes between these two complementary cities, they have rightly established themselves at the vanguard of gaming, cloud computing, biotech, cybersecurity and data-led solutions.

“Their combined strength in universities, research and talent markets should see them stay at the peak of this CBRE index for years to come.”

Paul Lewis, MD of International Economic Development at Scottish Enterprise, added: “It’s very encouraging to see both Edinburgh and Glasgow feature in the top three of CBRE’s UK Tech Cities report – the findings of this research help validate Scotland’s position as a tech nation and the data capital of Europe.”

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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