Glasgow rated as leading UK location for tech sector

CBRE’S ‘Tech Cities’ report ranks the top UK locations for tech businesses with Glasgow ranking an impressive second.

The report highlights various shifts in the cities’ tech and creative industries profiles over the last two years, with Glasgow climbing three places to become the UK’s second top tech destination outside London. The report highlights Scotland’s strengths as a leading technology sector destination, with the country’s two principal cities ranked second and third in the UK outside London.

Following an inaugural CBRE study in 2017, and using the same methodology to analyse data on 65 cities throughout the UK, the new report provides an update on the top 25 locations for companies in the tech sector.  All markets were scored and ranked according to a wide range of locational pull factors for tech businesses, such as level of education, concentrations of tech businesses and employment, cost of living, cost of office space and wage levels. 

Top 10 (from the Top 25) UK Tech Destinations outside London 2019 Ranking 2017 Ranking
Manchester 1 1
Glasgow 2 5
Edinburgh 3 3
Birmingham 4 7
Reading 5 2
Leeds 6 10
Cardiff 7 20
Oxford 8 6
Belfast 9 joint 11
Nottingham 9 joint 14


Factors contributing to the strong rankings are highlighted in the report.  These include high concentrations of tech businesses and tech professionals, generational diversity and a strong creative arts legacy. Glasgow also has high levels of educational attainment and access to a number of world-class universities, with strong research and computer science degree rankings.

CBRE Scotland Chairman Doug Smith said: “The fact that Scotland’s two principal cities are ranked so highly in the UK outside London is an incredibly positive story. The digital tech sector added £14bn to the UK economy in 2018, up 8% since 2016, and the sector is growing three times faster than the rest of the economy. The creative industries sector – which encompasses businesses from tech to media and telecoms – is therefore fundamental to the future success of Scotland.” 

Commenting on Glasgow being named the UK’s second top tech city (outside London),  Andy Cunningham, Senior Director, CBRE, said: “It’s a real coup for the city but – as it’s home to some of the world’s most creative and talented engineers, architects and designers, and is now attracting a new generation of innovative tech start-ups with a strong focus on data science – it’s no real surprise.

“We tend to think of Glasgow’s tech industry being focused along traditional sectors like banking, finance and insurance however, it’s pleasing to see other growth sectors operating at the cutting edge of alternative disciplines including biotechnology, artificial intelligence, space science, financial technology and computer games technology.”

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council and City Convener for Inclusive Economic Growth, said:

“Glasgow’s reputation as an innovative, forward thinking, thriving and progressive city is firmly established.  Our commitment is for Glasgow to be sector leading in a number of growth industries – including the digital and tech sectors – and we are delighted that our city has moved up the rankings in this year’s CBRE report.  Just this week KPMG announced that almost 400 new Fintech jobs will be created in their managed services hub in St Vincent Street – one of only two in the UK – and paid testament to the outstanding quality of Glasgow’s skills in data and technology.  The development of hubs such as Tontine and the two Innovation Districts in Glasgow will take what is already a fantastic environment for both established and start-up businesses in this sector, a key part of our future economic growth, to the next level.  Next year I want Glasgow to be top of the list!”

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