Edinburgh's booming tech sector enjoying record levels of employment

Edinburgh’s rapidly growing tech sector is among the parts of the UK with the greatest number of tech vacancies, while also seeing a record number of people employed in the industry, buoyed by an influx of global talent, according to a new report.

Tech Nation, the UK’s growth platform for start-ups and scale-ups, has launched its Visa Report 2022 shining a spotlight on global tech talent in the UK. It highlights how nearly a fifth of all of the UK’s tech companies are founded by at least one non-UK national, with such firms raising almost a quarter of all UK tech venture capital (VC) investment (£8 billion) in 2021.

The organisation says the Edinburgh tech sector is currently valued at $6.4bn (£5.5bn), up from $5.6bn last year, and has received $187 million in VC investment in the first half of 2022, having overtaken the $186m received in 2021 overall. Tech Nation said the city’s five most valuable firms comprise Skyscanner, IOmet Pharma, Current Health, Pocket FM, and TVSquared.

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Additionally, Tech Nation said a record 67,500 people are employed in the Scottish capital’s tech sector, up from 27,200 at the end of 2021, while the city has the fifth-greatest number of tech vacancies in the UK, with well over 20,000 roles opened by employers in the year to May 2022.

Across the UK, 181,000 tech roles were advertised in May of this year, up from 145,000 12 months previously, with Tech Nation saying the jump reflects the growth seen in VC investment into the country’s tech companies in 2021, a 130 per cent increase to just under $41bn.

Gerard Grech, founding chief executive of Tech Nation, said: “The UK’s record level of tech job vacancies demonstrates that the need for outside talent has never been greater. Even with our buoyant, currently well-funded and diverse ecosystem, the UK cannot afford to be complacent in our pursuit of international talent.”

Tech Nation says it has been designated by the Home Office to endorse applications for the Global Talent Visa since 2014, which has now received more than 5,000 applications from 102 countries, with at least 2,500 highly talented workers endorsed.

There are currently more people employed in Edinburgh’s tech sector than ever, at 67,500, according to Tech Nation. Picture: Ian Georgeson Photography.

Diversity

Trecilla Lobo, a Global Talent Visa holder and Tech Nation board member who is also senior vice president of people at BenevolentAI, which is focused on drug discovery enabled by artificial intelligence, said: “The UK tech sector plays a big part in contributing to our diversity, not just through its people but also through its innovative products that truly reflect our global marketplace.

“Today’s report highlights how the Global Talent Visa programme continues to contribute to the success of so many tech scale-ups to accelerate growth and create more opportunities.”

Separately, Edinburgh-based, payments-focused BR-DGE has been named one of the 51 companies who have been accepted into Fintech 5.0 – the fifth iteration of Tech Nation’s sector-specific growth programme for fintech entrepreneurs to enable their start-ups to scale both at home and abroad.

The tech firm’s finance boss Thomas Gillan said: “Starting up is tough, scaling is harder. We're delighted to be part of the Tech Nation cohort to be able to share ideas and experiences with a group of people who are on the same journey.”