Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is the fastest-growing tech hub in the UK. Last week, The Next Web commented on some of the surprising changes we see in the UK software development landscape and the reasons they think this city has made a name for itself. Data from our latest report on tech trends, reveals that the developer population in Edinburgh has grown by a staggering 8% in the second half of the year. This raises the total developer population to almost 20,000, accounting for 7% of the total labour force. That’s not to say that other cities aren’t popular locations for coders. In fact, London remains the UK’s biggest developer population with over 300,000 developers. Dublin is another booming tech hub where one-tenth of the labour force consists of developers.
Why is it that Edinburgh's developer population has grown this rapidly in 2017?
Could the rise in developers be due to lifestyle choice -- are people getting tired of the hustle and bustle that is London, where the cost of living is one of the highest in the world? Nick Freer, an industry consultant and technology columnist for The Scotsman, said that Edinburgh offers benefits that other cities could not.
He says, “Edinburgh is a lifestyle choice; it gives a coder or developer the opportunity to live in one of Northern Europe’s most alluring cities, the feeling of being in a capital, with bags of culture and the chance to mountain bike up an old volcano within minutes of the office.”
There are clearly a number of reasons that developers could be flocking to Edinburgh. The capital has grown significantly as a tech hub and is home to world-class technical talent and successful tech companies such as Skyscanner, Nucleus Financial, and BskyB. The capital has the strongest city economy outside of London, yet it offers significantly lower labour and property costs. Unemployment levels in Edinburgh are consistently low, and the economic activity rate is higher than Scotland as a whole.
The increase in Data Scientists is another clear indicator of Edinburgh’s rapid growth. Our data shows a 19% increase in data -science roles since July, which is possibly due to an increased focus on the data revolution. The Data Lab, the Edinburgh-based innovation centre, enables new collaborations between industry, public sector and universities that are driven by common interests in the exploration of data science. As you can imagine, this huge growth market demands data science skills. The Data Lab funds university courses to help increase the supply of high-end talent, and ultimately solve industry data science problems in the capital.
Digging deeper, we see that a rise in machine learning in Edinburgh has come hand-in-hand with the allied field of data science. Our data shows that the number of Machine Learning Specialists in the capital rose by 21% in the second half of the year. Findings from our annual user survey show that Machine Learning Specialists command the highest salary along with Data Scientists and developers with a statistics or math background -- perhaps another reason for the capital’s attraction.
It’s no wonder that software developers are attracted to a city that is passionate about building a cohesive data science community. This and it’s scenic views -- who can be surprised at how quickly this tech hub is flourishing?