David Birrell: Edinburgh great place for business

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EDINBURGH is a great place to promote international business. However, we must continue to focus on improving our international competitiveness. Whilst we have enjoyed growth in past years we need to encourage even more businesses to explore opportunities of trading internationally. Rebalancing the Scottish economy towards increased exports is a vital source of growth.

In our capital city, we have every reason to be proud of our history and current performance in trading internationally. Our leading businesses, education establishments, arts and culture provide us with the confidence to excel in a global market where competition will intensify as digital technology, transport connectivity and international education bring us even closer together.

The University of Edinburgh is a global top 20 university and plans to climb that table even further. Some 40 per cent of its student base comes from outside the UK with 140 different countries represented. This international reach from a single institution has an added value of around £1.2 billion to our economy.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce works closely with consuls, governments, city leaders and overseas enterprise organisations to promote our capital as the place to do business. Edinburgh City Council reports that 20 international businesses have come to the city in the past year bringing 1000 jobs.

Edinburgh has an unemployment rate well below the UK average. Time and time again the city wins accolades for quality of life and when you are trying to attract a global talent pool, being based in a Unesco World Heritage site provides a unique advantage.

Critical to our success in exploiting new business opportunities is to continually improve collaboration. We have on our doorstep a rich source of knowledge from an extensive consular community and a world-class support structure of financial, accounting and legal services. Greater collaboration will not only provide market intelligence but also the opportunity to provide more innovative and affordable professional services as part of the overall desire to improve confidence levels to trade internationally.

In particular, we should aim to encourage more collaboration between those who enjoy international success with those businesses who are considering opportunities overseas.

In short, we have the people, the knowledge, the history and the infrastructure to provide a “perfect storm” for international business. We can export our skills, products and expertise around the globe and we have the training, resources and talent to bring the world to us.

David Birrell is chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce