John McLellan: Way to go before we’re Data Capital

The city council wants Edinburgh to be 'The Data Capital of Europe'. Picture: Getty
The city council wants Edinburgh to be 'The Data Capital of Europe'. Picture: Getty
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Much deserved backslapping this week at the latest Ernst & Young attractiveness survey which showed Scotland was outpacing the UK for foreign investment, a 7 per cent increase in the number of projects in 2017-18 compared to 6 percent for the UK as a whole.

However, Scotland’s 116 projects were some way behind Greater London’s 459 (up nearly 3 per cent) and North-West England in third place experienced a 16 per cent rise to 105 and EY warns that Scotland is only sixth when it comes to future positive perceptions.

Edinburgh’s increase of 45 per cent looked impressive but it was from a small base of 29, and although Manchester only grew by 2 per cent it still attracted 45 schemes.

The scale of the challenge is clear from the number of digital projects, only 14 across Scotland compared to 320 in the UK and 1172 in Europe.

Edinburgh Council’s administration has set itself the target of becoming “The Data Capital of Europe” so even if those 14 were all in the city, it shows how ambitious that is.

The UK is Europe’s leading location for digital investment with 27 per cent of all new projects but can Edinburgh capture more of these? There is no plan as such, apart from the appointment of a chief innovation officer, an “innovation corridor” from Potterrow to Fountainbridge, driven largely by Edinburgh University from its School of Informatics, and the launch of a strategy.

Manchester launched its digital strategy a year ago.