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Why Scotland's the place to do great things with data

16 Oct 2019 • 10 minute read

We’re investing £661 million in our vision of turning our capital city into the ‘Data Capital of Europe’.

ROVOP staff using the ROVOP Academy training simulator. Two people using joysticks and touchscreens sit in front of a bank of monitors

Scotland is a growing and dynamic country with an exciting future at the heart of the data science revolution - an estimated £20 billion opportunity for the economy. Our thinking around artificial intelligence and the use of data for business is big. Our ambition is even bigger.

Scotland's data ecosystem

Data is the future. That’s why we’re investing £661 million in our vision of turning our capital city into the ‘Data Capital of Europe’.

Scotland’s ambitious 10-year Data-Driven Innovation programme opens in a new window  will work with partners in government, industry, and educational institutions to make Scotland the No.1 location of choice for data science startups and data science companies.

You’ll find excellence in education, a nation of invention and dedicated research hubs across the country. You can be confident that Scotland has a talent pool with the skills and experience required to grow your business. And, with a highly responsive skills and education system, we’ll meet your needs both now and in the future.

An environment bursting with innovation

Scotland’s innovative culture has created more university spin outs here than anywhere else in the UK, including London. Scotland has eight innovation centres and the University of Edinburgh is one of the UK’s top research universities in computer science.

We also punch above our weight in this area globally, rubbing shoulders with the top 20 research institutions worldwide. 

More about innovation in Scotland 

Two people at a conference stand beside a billboard-sized poster with the headline: Scotland - where ideas become legend

Our community is well connected

We have a strong presence in, and access to, many data-rich industries offering the greatest global opportunities, including:

Digital tech talent is readily available in Scotland

We have 93,500 people working in roles across digital technologies, within companies that are doing exciting things in data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, space, cyber security, ecommerce, software, telecomms and media.

Scotland creates 5,700 new information technology graduates every year. Learn about the support available from Skills Development Scotland to help you access that data science talent.

Computer games design students at Abertay University using software to design the interface for a game

Scotland's future-proofed workforce

Data has an important role to progress our society. That’s why we’re committed to training 100,000 people in the application of data. Explore the Bayes Centre opens in a new window , Europe’s largest training hub in data sciences, and the University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics opens in a new window , the largest European centre of its kind with over 450 staff and 850 students.

Scotland is a competitive location for business

It’s up to 40% more cost effective to locate in Scotland than other parts of the UK.

Home to tech unicorns

Scotland’s national animal is the mythical horned creature but it’s also home to tech unicorns. Edinburgh-based fintech giant FNZ is Scotland’s latest startup to reach 'unicorn' status. The company now holds around £330 billion in assets globally.

Compare locations for cost of living 

Exterior shot of the University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum building

The University of Edinburgh's Informatics Forum

Your business could be going places

By locating to Scotland, you can access our highly educated workforce and renowned academic institutions, which have an outstanding record of industry engagement. We’ve invested significantly in our universities and innovation centres, creating a unique tech hub and spirited community.

At the heart of this ethos is The Data Lab opens in a new window  an innovation centre where industry, the public sector and world-class researchers can come together to develop new data science capabilities in a collaborative environment. With a Scotland-wide presence, The Data Lab is focused on delivering a range of activities around collaborative innovation, skills and training and community building as well as leading Scotland’s strategy to unlock the social and economic potential of artificial intelligence (AI).

Phase 2 of the centre's growth plan saw it secure £13.5 million Scottish Government investment over 5 years from April 2019. This new funding will allow The Data Lab to improve data innovation’s economic impact on Scotland, generate more jobs and build on its growing global reputation. It also includes supporting 665 new data science Masters (MScs), ensuring a pipeline of talent into Scottish businesses.

Our greatest thinkers are ready to collaborate with you

Community is important to Scotland - it's a place where great minds come together. Eleven universities are already collaborating with The Data Lab to grow the supply chain of data science expertise. Scotland is also home to ambitious indigenous tech companies with data at their core as well as some of the world’s leading tech giants such as Amazon and Oracle. 

We're home to CodeBase opens in a new window , the UK's largest tech startup incubator providing office and co-working spaces for more than 100 of the country's most promising tech companies.

Underpinning this unique community is a supportive public sector, and a government that’s a strong advocate of the use of data for societal and economic benefit and supports uptake through its investments in infrastructure and innovation. 

Matching quality of work with quality of life

Beyond the office, Scotland is a land of great natural beauty and our warmth and hospitality are world-renowned. Our friendly communities combine an exceptional quality of life with low cost of living, making the move to Scotland an attractive option for you and your employees.

Our progressive government policies strive to make Scotland a fairer and better place to live and work, for citizens and residents alike.

We’d love you to join the many top global tech businesses that choose to locate, operate and grow in Scotland alongside our ambitious local companies. And we’re here for you throughout the journey – with support before, during and after you locate.

Read our blog on why Scotland is the best place to live and set up your business 

Big data industry examples in Scotland

Digital health and care is an emerging and exciting global market potentially worth over $1.4 trillion by 2025.

This is already an area of exceptional strength for Scotland, thanks to a well-established National Health Service (NHS) - with extensive digital patient records – and a strong company base with expertise in informatics. As a result, Scotland has a world-leading research base that collaborates with industry to create commercial healthcare solutions of the future.

Thanks to the presence of, and our ability to analyse, vast quantities of data, Scotland is the place to drive opportunities in this arena.

More about Scotland's digital health and care sector 

Scotland's energy know-how has been forged by fifty years of oil and gas expertise in the North Sea. An important by-product of this activity is huge amounts of data that continues to be harvested.

Looking to the future, more sustainable and less invasive practices will see a massive proliferation of sensors and data – and the technology to unlock its value – will become increasingly valuable.

Sensor-Works based in Livingston, West Lothian, are already using wireless sensors in the energy sectors to enable condition monitoring, lower costs and optimise operational efficiency.

More about Scotland's renewables industry 

Did you know the Personal Identification Number (PIN) you use with your credit or debit card was invented by a Scot in the 1960s? We’ve a long history of innovation and today Scotland remains one of Europe's most important financial and global business centres.

We’re the perfect blend of technological and financial expertise. Our workforce is constantly adapting. Inward investors from around the globe are coming to Scotland to explore new and emerging opportunities in artificial intelligence in finance, data analytics, fintech and cyber security, alongside more traditional functions.

Companies such as J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley already have technology operations located here, as well as Barclays Wealth who recently invested in Glasgow with the creation of a new multi-million pound financial hub which will house its global technology team.

TranSwap and GC Exchange Limited (GCEX) are the latest international technology firms to come to Scotland. TranSwap, the cross-border payment platform headquartered in Singapore is setting up a fintech R&D centre in Edinburgh to continue its international growth.

Why TranSwap chose Scotland 

Hong Kong financial services tech specialist Actelligent Company Limited (Actelligent) has chosen Edinburgh for its new UK and European technology base. Actelligent is currently developing an online platform that will act as a hub between investors, private fund managers and retail investors and connect investors with new opportunities in overseas investment markets. 

Actelligent will build a team of software engineers and architects in Edinburgh to support the continuing technical development of its online platform, plus technical compliance and financial experts to support analytical and research services. 

More about Scotland's fintech sector 

Setting up your software and IT business in Scotland gives you access to a dynamic and supportive ecosystem including the best tech talent and creative minds - all the right ingredients to produce world-changing digital unicorns (think Skyscanner and FanDuel) and attract tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft.

US software firm Cherwell is benefiting from top talent coming out of Scotland's universities to expand its operations in the heart of Europe.

Read Cherwell's success story 

More about Scotland's software and IT sector 

Now is an exciting time for the new space industry in Scotland. With the planned spaceport in the Scottish Highlands, Scotland will become the only location in Europe with end-to-end launch capability.

At the heart of Scotland’s success is proven small satellite technology, which has exploded the use of downstream satellite data and its associated applications.

From agriculture and marine to construction and humanitarian efforts, Scottish tech companies are using geospatial earth observation data collected from satellites to commercialise real time applications.

In September 2019, Glasgow-based satellite company Spire Global received a £14.7 million investment from Scottish Enterprise which will help the satellite firm generate over 260 jobs in Scotland’s space sector. It operates one of the largest constellations of private nanosatellites and ground station networks in the world. 

Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon said: "Spire Global's expansion sends a strong message that even in these uncertain times, Scotland remains open for business and has the potential to be Europe's leading space nation."

More about Scotland's space sector 

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