Despite it’s small size with a population of just over 5 million (3 million less than England’s capital city) Scotland has produced some of the most influential and world renowned innovators of all time. The birthplace of John Napier creator of the logarithm, John Logie Baird developer of the first mechanical TV and Alexander Graham Bell inventor of the first practical telephone; Scotland’s innovators have helped shape the world we know today.
With such a rich history of innovation at it’s heart, it should come as no surprise that technology as an industry has and continues to thrive in the Scotland of today. A Scotland where the rise of mobile technologies and a shift in consumer usage leads the way for a digital economy. As Russell Henderson, Growth Director at BitWink suggests:
“Scotland has a remarkable opportunity to prosper in this new digital economy, by applying our internationally renowned innovation, design & engineering skills. However our nation’s growth is dependent upon our will to simultaneously develop the digital capabilities of those who live here, while also attracting the brightest new talent from around the world to join us. Our opportunity is global, our mindset and commitment must be too.”
And that is exactly what Scotland does best.
The rise of Silicon Glen
You’re bound to have heard of Silicon Valley, you may even have heard of Silicon Roundabout; London’s equivalent to the US tech and innovation hub…but have you heard of Silicon Glen?
If you don’t already know, Silicon Glen is the name now given to the growing tech sector in Scotland. Usually referring to Edinburgh, the home of the UK’s largest technology incubator CodeBase, it’s not hard to see why this region garners comparisons to its better known counterparts. With 101,400 people estimated to be currently working in Scotland’s tech industry and 1,000 workplaces offering 11,000 job opportunities per annum, Scotland’s tech sector is suggested to have grown 43.4% in the past five years second only to London. Digital technology workers in Edinburgh are in fact among the highest paid in the sector in the UK according to a recent study.
It’s no wonder so many tech startups choose the Silicon Glen as a base for their growing businesses. Olly Headey, the co-founder of FreeAgentput it simply when describing his own experiences as a tech startup:
“When the time came to establish an office, when we first started hiring employees, we always planned for it to be in Edinburgh. We asked ourselves whether this might hinder the growth of the company, but we were all agreed that the city was well set up for tech startups – it’s an incredibly attractive and well-connected city, it has long been established as a financial centre, there are several excellent universities, a growing tech scene and an excellent quality of life which people would be attracted to.”
FreeAgent is one of the UK’s largest, and most popular cloud based accounting software for small businesses and freelancers. The software allows them to maintain their business accounts, log expenses, create invoices and forecast their tax bills. Founded in 2007, FreeAgent now employs 100 people and has ranked among the top 20 rapidly-growing technology companies in the Deloitte Fast 50 list.
FreeAgent is also one of the companies CodeClan is fortunate to have as an employer partner. We have a range of prestigious organisations on board who are committed to hiring our successful graduates at the end of the course.
Exciting tech companies in Scotland
It’s clear that Edinburgh and the surrounding Central Belt lends itself well to innovative new startups and this can be seen in the success of some of the great tech companies who have chosen to call Scotland their home:
FanDuel is the global leader and pioneer of daily fantasy sports. Originally founded in Scotland in 2009 FanDuel now employees a 380 strong workforce and is one of Scotland’s unicorns (business valued at over $1 billion.)
Outplay Entertainment is a leading developer of innovative games for smartphones, tablets, and social networks. Recognized for their focus on quality and engaging gameplay, Outplay was founded in Dundee in 2010 and now employs more than 70 people with offices in Dundee and Edinburgh.
Scotland’s second unicorn Skyscanner is a leading global travel search site. Founded in Edinburgh in 2003, Skyscanner now employs more than 700 people across 10 global offices.
Tipped to be Scotland’s next unicorn, Administrate is a young startup to watch. Founded in Scotland in 2010 Administrate is a training management solution delivered from the cloud. Based in Edinburgh’s CodeBase Tech Hub, Administrate currently employees around 40 people.
Founded in Edinburgh in 2002, Rockstar North is an award-winning videogame developer. Home to the ground-breaking Grand Theft Auto Series Rockstar North has grown from a small team of 25 employees to over 360.
As described by Headey, this success and the continued growth of Scotland’s tech sector looks set to continue long into 2016 and beyond with ongoing investment in the tech community and the continued commitment to developing Scotland’s innovators:
“CodeBase, our leading tech incubator, now has dozens of companies and (as I understand it) is so popular there’s now a waiting list. Edinburgh University continues to be one of the leading establishments for Computer Science – every year we take on software engineering interns and they often come from Edinburgh University – and we now have CodeClan, Scotland’s first digital skills academy. With all this support, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing local companies like Skyscanner, FanDuel, FreeAgent all thriving.”
But really… what else can you expect from a nation with innovation at it’s core?