edinburgh and startups

Edinburgh And Startups: How Edinburgh Became The New Startup Hub In The UK

Linkilaw Business News

Everything That Is Great In This World Starts Off From Humble Beginnings, Including Edinburgh’s Rise As A Startup Hub In Europe

It’s known as Scotland’s capital and is the UK’s second-most popular tourist destination after London. But the City of Edinburgh or “Auld Reekie” isn’t famous just for its castles, universities, and international art festivals. In the recent years, the historic city has taken a place of honour in the global entrepreneurship scene as well. 

In fact, Edinburgh gained the flattering title of the 2016’s entrepreneurial city of the year, further securing its reputation as a “seat of enlightenment” – a title that stretches all the way back to the era of its 18th century luminaries like David Hume, Robert Burns and Adam Smith.

Edinburgh and startups are now synonymous with each other so let’s explore how it all began for this great Scottish city.

How It All Began: Edinburgh And Startups

Most of the credit for creating a climate favouring Edinburgh and startups goes to Jim Galloway, head of enterprise and innovation at the city council. Galloway was inspired by Boston, the top US startup hub, and was determined to start doing something similar back at home.

He was helped in his efforts by FanDuel and Skyscanner, two so-called unicorn startups (companies with a valuation that exceeds $1 billion) founded in Edinburgh, weighing more than £800 million each, and that have now become household names.

When Skyscanner’s owner and founder Gareth Williams was asked about what makes Edinburgh such a thriving environment for startups, he replied with the following:

“In the years following the dotcom bust, being an Internet economy startup in Edinburgh felt a little lonely. The scene could not be more different now. There’s a real kinship between fellow startups and Internet economy businesses here … the community is incredibly open in sharing lessons, something that is both refreshing and valuable.”

It’s looking increasingly likely that Edinburgh will produce more tech giants beyond Skyscanner and Fan Duel as indicated by Sam Shead from Business Insider.

Union Is Strength: Edinburgh And Startups

It’s all about mentorship, collaboration, and mutual support – a very refreshing, if almost incredulous attitude in this dog-eat-dog world. What further enhances this tightly-knit, yet open network for both striving and established entrepreneurs is the fact Edinburgh isn’t too large of a city – counting a population of almost half a million, it creates somewhat a convenient microcosmos for entrepreneurs and startups.

edinburgh and startups

What is more, the city continues to invest in structures and initiatives aimed to provide necessary support for startups. In 2015, the first-ever software skills academy CodeClan opened its doors in Edinburgh, joining other technology incubators such as CodeBase.

Edinburgh and startups are only going to grow stronger with such continued support as Nick Freer from the Scotsman points out in this article.

The Role Of Educational Institutions: Edinburgh And Startups

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Scotland’s capital city is also home to four universities, attended by 7% of the entire city population. Needless to say, Edinburgh’s numerous and diverse student population is a massive source of potential innovators, forward-thinkers, and entrepreneurs. Not only that, but universities play a pivotal role in supporting the blooming startup efforts.

Prof Sir Timothy O’Shea, principal of the University of Edinburgh, commented for BBC that: “The first-class support provided by the university and the wider enterprise support network play an important role, not only in the student experience but in delivering impact for the world-class research coming out of our university.”

edinburgh and startups

BBC further reports that “the University of Edinburgh said it supported 44 startups and three spin-outs last year, taking the total to 184 in five years. Investment in university-founded companies has also hit a record high – with backing of £237 million in 2014/15.”

Final Words: Edinburgh And Startups

With such a marvellous mix of facilitating factors, a positive atmosphere, and an emphasis on education, it is no wonder Edinburgh can easily parallel London and other international cities on the forefront of the startup industry.

We are nothing but excited to see what other innovations and ideas will emerge next from the charming and historic Scottish capital.

No doubt the future for Edinburgh and startups is a bright one.

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