City whizz-kids have transformed the Capital into a thriving tech hub creating the perfect platform for aspiring tycoons.
Edinburgh beat Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester and London to be titles the Entrepreneurial City of the Year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in London on Tuesday – a result which even surprised the city’s representatives.
Russell Dalgleish, founder of Exolta Capital Partners, accepted the award on behalf of Edinburgh, presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli, with other representatives and business leaders from the city.
Mr Dalgleish said: “As Scots it doesn’t sit well for us to be congratulated on success, but together as a city we are changing the tech landscape and we are going to have to get used to accepting praise.”
The Capital was judged against four key criteria: quality of life that attracts smart, entrepreneurial people; access to capital and talent; start-up ecosystems and entrepreneurial culture; and access to mentors and support networks.
And tech expert Nick Freer, who has acted as a strategic consultant for some of the city’s most successful tech start-ups, puts the much of the city’s award down to the environment and people of Edinburgh.
He said: “Place is very important to a successful tech environment. We need to attract people with experience from further afield and what Edinburgh does have is a fantastic lifestyle. It is small enough you don’t have to commute, is relatively inexpensive compared to London and has a good network of links to mainland Europe and increasingly more to the far east and America.”
The world-leading Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics also churns out a considerable talent pool providing fresh ideas and flair into the fast-growing industry.
Edinburgh is home to a succession of prosperous tech companies including Skyscanner and FanDuel, as well as online accounting business FreeAgent, Scotland’s fastest growing tech company Administrate and financial software developers Craneware. They were developed with the support of business incubators – companies that help new and start-up companies to develop – such as Codebase, Creative Exchange and Entrepreneurial Spark.
And it is this tight community of mentors, advisers and investors that Mr Dalgleish says is “Edinburgh’s blessing”.
“The city has a rich tech base and where other places may focus on competition, we seem to work well together towards a shared goal,” he said.
Councillor Gavin Barrie, the city’s economy leader, said: “Edinburgh has one of Europe’s most vibrant entrepreneurial support ecosystems ranging from Scotland’s top performing Business Gateway region supporting start-up businesses through to our world-class universities promoting innovation and commercialisation.”
Now in its fourth year, the Great British Entrepreneur Awards is hailed as the benchmark of entrepreneurial success in the UK and includes James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog as a previous winner.