Data Capital of Europe in Competition With Other Scottish Cities

Edinburgh has been at the centre of Scotland’s investment into science, data and technology, with the goal of transforming it into the data capital of Europe.

The 10-year Data-Driven Innovation Programme includes a £661 million investment with partners across multiple sectors and is backed by the prestigious University of Edinburgh.

The initiative is expected to be a significant factor in driving £20 billion into the Scottish economy, with data science playing a pivotal role in the country’s future. Although Edinburgh has been the city capturing all of the headlines, many other hubs in Scotland are catching up.

Here’s a look at how Scottish cities are forging ahead with data capital initiatives.

Outperforming Sector Peers

The recent global events have impacted every industry, but the tech sector has been able to bounce back far more quickly than most. And there’s one area of the UK in particular which is thriving: Scotland.

A comparison with companies on FTSE 100 and other indices shows that the tech sector in Scotland is rising more quickly, with a climb of 25% compared to 10% elsewhere. Artificial intelligence, blockchain and cloud technology are the leading areas, but others such as cyber security, e-commerce, robotics and machine learning are also experiencing growth.

Although this success is being enjoyed across Scotland, it is Edinburgh that has captured the headlines as the “data capital of Europe”. Edinburgh is the top city in the UK for startups boasting a 92% growth potential.

It’s no accident that Edinburgh has achieved such success; the creation of five hubs at the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University has played a vital part. Using in-house expertise, these hubs support a wide range of industrial sectors with their data needs, helping to create innovation.

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Wide-scale Success

Digital technology is the sector that is growing the quickest across the whole of Scotland, not just Edinburgh. The Internet of Things in Scotland is the most advanced network of its type within the UK, allowing companies to research, develop and test new commercial services.

A total of 11,200 tech firms contribute £6.5 billion to the economy in Scotland, with 100,000 people employed in the sector. Every year a further 15000 graduates emerge from Scottish universities, adding to the ever-growing pool of expertise.

Alongside Edinburgh, Scottish cities such as Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee are enjoying a thriving tech industry.

In Glasgow, tech firms received £43 million in venture capital investment during 2020, making it one of the fastest-growing technology hubs in the UK. In 2021, Glasgow City Council gave the green light to a £100 million development in the city centre, which will include space for tech firms. This new site will be located within the Glasgow City Innovation District, a £500 million hub that promotes digital, technology and science expertise.

Dundee has already established a reputation for life science and gaming, attracting investors in the rapidly expanding field of e-sports.

Aberdeen is the obvious choice for the energy industry and the race for net zero with its coastal location. The busy industrial tech sector within the city offers opportunities for renewable energy, leading to new initiatives such as EnergyTech.

Competition from cities such as Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen will benefit Edinburgh, Scotland and its economy, pushing each other to achieve greater excellence in the field.


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