Scotland is the fastest growing UK region outside of London when it comes to the number of digital enterprises. Research by law firm Nockolds has shown that the number of digital enterprises in Scotland increased by 8.8% between 2015 and 2016, from 7,860 to 8,555. The Tech Nations 2017 Report similarly found that Dundee had the highest turnover growth of any cluster, at 171%, compared to London’s 106% and 85% in Edinburgh.
The report cites Dundee’s “thriving games sector” as contributing to the city’s digital success. In addition, it notes that Abertay University and its Centre for Excellence in Computer Games Education turns “out a healthy supply of graduates each year” and is the first in the world to offer degree-level qualifications in games development.
Nicola Lucas of Nockolds says: “Dundee has established itself as a centre for software development, particularly gaming, including mobile app development. Its low cost base in terms of rents, together with the pool of appropriately skilled talent, make it an ideal location for start-ups, many of which are likely to be spin-off businesses.”
“A major concern is whether regional tech hubs, such as Dundee, can provide the skills and funding environment to hold onto digital businesses once they reach a certain scale, or whether these businesses will focus expansion in other regions.”
“A classic example of this is DMA Design, founded in Dundee, which developed the famous Grand Theft Auto games. The studio was eventually acquired and relocated to Edinburgh, but has since expanded into Leeds, Lincoln and London.”
She adds: “Scotland is already struggling with a digital skills gap, and Brexit could potentially exacerbate that, impeding the growth of the digital economy. Digital businesses in Scotland will be concerned about any Brexit deal which makes recruiting talent harder than it already is.”