Edinburgh is a key player in the global technology sector. With more than 25,000 people working in tech roles, it’s also home to a huge number of major firms, including Amazon, Microsoft, Skyscanner and FanDuel.
It’s a prolific source of new talent, too. The University of Edinburgh’s internationally-renowned School of Informatics has created 61 start up or spin-out companies in the last six years alone, and has produced more world-leading research than any other university in the UK.
The city is also the location of choice for CodeBase, the UK’s largest technology incubator, which is home to more than 100 of the country’s best technology companies. Altogether, Edinburgh is a unique environment, where different companies and organisations frequently work together to continue developing this ever-growing sector.
Edinburgh’s been the starting point for technological innovations that were so successful they’ve become standard all over the world. The first demonstration of artificial refrigeration was given by Dr William Cullen at the University of Edinburgh in 1756. Alexander Graham Bell may have patented his telephone in the States in 1876, but the man himself came from Edinburgh. Even the humble electric toaster was first created in the city in 1893.
The University of Edinburgh’s Department of Artificial Intelligence created the world’s first automated industrial assembly robot in 1969. 1980 saw Peter Denyer introduce the first miniature digital camera, and in 1987 Paul Nisbet successfully created the first prototype sensor-assisted SMART wheelchair for children with severe and multiple disabilities.
21st century Edinburgh brought us the commercial launch of the i-Limb prosthetic hand, and the development of LiFi — data sending and receiving using any LED. It’s even seen the reinvention of the spoon. Edinburgh local Grant Douglas came up with the idea of the S’up Spoon because his cerebral palsy made it difficult to eat without spilling. Since hitting the market early in 2016, it’s become a global, award-winning sensation.
Kitchen equipment, robots, internet through lightbulbs – what’s next for Edinburgh?
Edinburgh’s tech sector is made up of small companies making it big, and big companies seeking to benefit from the city’s exceptional research, knowledge, experience and talent.
Home grown superstars include flight, hotel and car search engine Skyscanner and Rockstar North, creators of the phenomenally successful Grand Theft Auto series of games. Online accounting firm FreeAgent started in 2007 and was listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market in November 2016. Craneware’s financial software is now used by a third of all US hospitals.
External investment has come from US sports fantasy provider FanDuel and Amazon, who chose to create their first non-US development centre in Edinburgh. SecureWorks is an arm of information security leader Dell, and Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica-Selex ES) chose the city as the base for one of its biggest research and manufacturing sites.
There are more than 100 high-profile tech companies in Edinburgh, from tiny start ups to multinational corporations. They all have one thing in common – the unique environment, support network and opportunities Edinburgh offers.
Convention Edinburgh has helped dozens of technology sector events come together in recent years, including:
We’re very much looking forward to welcoming future events.
Here’s what some of our former guests have said about their events and Edinburgh:
“We had a spectacularly productive IDCC — thanks to everyone who participated in the various meetings and events. Thank you, thank you!”
“We received fantastic support from Convention Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Ambassador Programme. We were also able to tap into the wealth of experience of the professional teams at the venues. They guided us through the whole process, making a significant contribution to the smooth running of the conference.”
European Robotics Forum
“Something big is brewing here in Scotland. Companies like Skyscanner, VCs like Scottish Equity Partners, individuals like Chris van der Kuyl and entrepreneur support programmes like Informatics Ventures play prominent roles. But perhaps it is Scotland itself and its great cities like Edinburgh that is the real difference-maker in allowing such a promising tech scene to flourish.”
“The EICC is a world-class facility and the support from the city has been terrific. This year’s meeting is the best-attended in the event’s history, due in part to the appeal of Edinburgh itself."
“The hospitality shown to us at Winton House was excellent and we wouldn’t hesitate to book another event there. The whole day was fantastic from start to finish, and every element was exactly what we were looking for – great food, fun activities, welcoming and accommodating staff and a beautiful setting.”