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Edinburgh is the UK’s Fastest Growing Tech Hub

Brian Baglow


UK Tech

Edinburgh’s developer population grew by 8% and the number of data scientists by 19% according to new research by Stack Overflow.

Edinburgh’s status as one of Europe’s leading technology hubs has been reinforced by new research from Stack Overflow, the world’s largest developer community, which shows huge growth in the number of developers and data scientists working in the city.

According to the Q4 Developer Ecosystem Report, the number of developers grew by 8% in the second half of 2017, bringing the total population to almost 20,000, or seven developers per 100 people in the workforce.

This growth was overshadowed by the huge leap in the number of data scientists working in Edinburgh, which experienced a surge of 19% over the same period.

Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, said: “This is fantastic news and testament to Scotland’s ability to pave the way in data science innovation. Skills underpin the unique developments we see every day in our industry and that is why we are committed to securing a pipeline of data science talent through our multifaceted education programme.”

Edinburgh Excels

The report is the culmination of a year in which Edinburgh received recognition from multiple sources as a technology and business powerhouse. The city excels in innovation, quality of life, creativity and business growth. It’s also 33% cheaper to run a company in Edinburgh and the fastest growing digital economy outside London. Also, with a little luck, the trip down south may be cut to about 50 minutes at some point soon(ish).

Outside Edinburgh…

London of course has the UK’s biggest developer population with over 300,000 developers in the city. The UK capital has more technical talent than the whole of Italy, Spain or Poland, according to the Stack Overflow data. Across the rest of the UK, Birmingham and Manchester have the highest developer populations with 40,300 and 39,000 respectively.

For comparison, Stack Overflow lists Glasgow as having 16,500 developers,  which equates to six developers per 100 people in the labour force.

Dr Jamie Graves, the CEO of ZoneFox, one of Edinburgh’s pioneering cyber security companies is clear on why the city has achieved such success. He told DIGIT: “The fact that growth in this area is so high for Edinburgh is testament to the city and the work being done within it. There are dozens of fantastic businesses built on a need for accurate and intelligent data usage, and this is powering this influx of data scientists and programmers.

“Combine that with world-leading universities, one of the largest tech incubators in Europe and the fact that last year it was voted British entrepreneurial city of the year, it’s clear why Edinburgh has such a strong tech community. It’s not just attracting programmers and data scientists, it’s empowering and fostering their talent too.”

The Stack Overflow report also sheds light on tech trends and changes within the tech sector. By tracking the traffic to tags across the site, the company can see which tools, technologies and topics are rising and falling in popularity.

Angular Up, Python Popular

Angular Google’s TypeScript-based open-source front-end web application platform is far and away the most popular tag on the site, while Meteor, iPhone and Objective C have shrunk across 2017.

The report also reveals that the popularity of Python continues to grow, with the language leapfrogging JavaScript’s 9.9% to appear in 11.6% of the UK site’s job listings.

Sean Bave, General Manager and Vice President, Talent at Stack Overflow, commented, “Technology moves quickly: even just a couple of months can make a difference to the languages and methodologies developers are interested in and it can sometimes be difficult for employers to keep up with the trends.

“What’s fascinating about this data is the pace at which different technologies rise and fall. It’s more important than ever for employers to keep their ears to the ground and look at data like this to make sure they’re using the right technologies and attracting the right talent as we move into 2018.”

Mandy Haeburn-Little, Chief Executive of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, said: “The recent award to Edinburgh is an important one not just for Scotland , but nationally and internationally.

“The vision being led by David Aspinall and his team is a hugely exciting one and we should really embrace that success and welcome this new cadre of data scientists to the community. Just last week I met a Professor from Greece who has relocated to Edinburgh to be a part of that new landscape. The Edinburgh data science vision also has potential really strong links to Scotland’s Cyber City Deal Bid being led jointly by Abertay University and the SBRC.

Data science and the attraction of great talent is another major step in building that Scottish cyber infrastructure that will set us apart as a model for others to follow.”

Movers and shakers

Brian Baglow


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