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Investment holds up

Scotland remains one of UK’s biggest tech hubs

Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones: a brilliant place to set up a tech company

Scotland remains one of the UK’s biggest tech hubs, with the highest number of verified startups (2,442) outside of London and the South East, according to new data.

Despite the pandemic, venture capital rounds increased in 2020 to 96 against 87 in 2019.

Scottish startups raised a collective £345 million in venture capital funding, says Tech Nation, the growth platform for tech companies and leaders, and job search engine Adzuna.

Last year two Scottish startups were named among the 10 winners of UK-wide growth platform Tech Nation’s Rising Stars programme.

Edinburgh’s tech for good firm Neatebox, which harnesses tech to help disabled people in their day-to-day lives, and Glasgow-based Talking Medicines, which provides pharmaceutical companies with real-time data intelligence, received a support package to help them scale, grow and build their networks.

Startups and fast-growing scaleups raised significant rounds during the year, including biotech firm Roslin Technologies which raised £50m in early VC funding in July, rocket company Skyrora which raised £25.5m in Series A funding in January and cryptocurrency wallet and payments platform, Zumo, which raised a £10m Series A round in November. 

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Scottish companies secured £235m in tax relief from the UK government for research and development projects in 2018/19.

As of December, there were 28,295 job vacancies in Scotland, 4,414 of which are in IT-related roles. In Edinburgh, 31% of all job roles are in the tech sector, making it the city’s fastest-growing sector. 

The figures on the growth of Scotland’s tech industry are published as the Government’s Digital Economy Council and Tech Nation prepare to host a digital roundtable today (3 February) to discuss the challenges facing the tech sector as it works to create jobs and help the region recover from the impact of the coronavirus. 

The increased demand for skilled tech talent across the country is reflected in the high advertised salaries for open jobs. In Edinburgh, the average advertised salary for tech jobs is £59,776, ahead of the UK average of £53,945.

Advertised salaries are even higher for specialist workers including solutions architects, who are tasked with testing, integrating and programming software systems to suit a company’s needs, who can command a salary of around £69,532, a 20.7% increase from 2019’s figures.

Product managers can expect an average advertised salary of £64,054, an increase of nearly 30% from 2019 figures. There are 84 product manager vacancies across the city. 

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The UK Government has committed £300m to Edinburgh and the South East of Scotland to help unlock economic growth and boost jobs. This includes the creation of five innovation hubs in fields such as robotics and space technologies. A further £13 million of investment in six science centres across the UK includes Dundee and Glasgow.

And, as part of the AI Sector Deal, the UK Government provided £30m of funding for the University of Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre to help support the development of world leading technology, attract further investment to the region and support high value jobs for the future. 

This week’s virtual roundtable is one of a series being held with tech executives, investors and entrepreneurs across the country. Local companies, investors, university representatives and other ecosystem participants will be brought together to learn, share and collaborate on the challenges posed by the pandemic. This will be fed back to the DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport). 

Minister for Digital, Caroline Dinenage said: “Scotland’s flourishing tech scene not only attracts investment from global companies such as Amazon and Rockstar Games but is also a production line for stellar homegrown firms including Skyscanner and FanDuel.

The UK government has invested in skills, infrastructure, and research and development to create the right business environment for this success, and I am delighted to join entrepreneurs, investors and local stakeholders to celebrate its resilience throughout the pandemic.”

Dr George Windsor, head of insights at Tech Nation said: “From its roots in the electronics industry, Scotland’s tech scene has evolved into a dynamic sector, encompassing everything from space to biotech and fintech. With more companies competing for skilled staff, it’s an opportune moment to meet with local entrepreneurs to hear what needs to be done to support this growing tech hub.” 

Rachel Jones, founder and CEO at SnapDragon said: “Edinburgh is a brilliant place to set up a tech company. With an eclectic and international workforce on tap and easy access to businesses at home and across Europe, we’ve been able to beta test our product and prove a need for affordable, effective, brand protection technology.

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“In the past few months, we’ve grown the team including hiring a new COO, and are looking forward to further expansion in 2021.” 

Alan Thompson, head of government affairs at Skyrora said: “Scotland’s spaceflight sector is developing rapidly, advancing at a much faster rate than anywhere else in the UK.

“With Scotland’s space sector estimated to be of value of £4 billion by 2030, along with an array of potential spaceport locations to support polar orbital launch, Skyrora is advantageously positioned in Edinburgh.

“Our team has been working hard on our developmental programme and we will continue to grow, develop and learn with the aim of launching the Skyrora XL orbital launch vehicle by 2030.”



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