Glasgow Tech Fest is due to return on Wednesday for its second year after the success of last year’s inaugural event led to it becoming an annual conference. 

As project director of Glasgow City Innovation District (GCID), we are proud to be hosting such an important event for the city.

The Innovation District is a successful partnership between University of Strathclyde, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Scottish Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Scotland that has allowed us to support businesses and bring events like these to the tech community.

This conference was set up specifically to help technology and digital startups, companies, entrepreneurs, and the tech ecosystem across our city to flourish, as well as offering the wider community valuable insights from industry experts.

And planning for this year’s event has made me reflect on the pace of progress Glasgow is making amongst the wider global technology and digital marketplace.

Stats from December last year revealed tech companies in our city had attracted a combined £100m in private investment across 2022 – a 153 per cent rise from 2019.

Glasgow’s digital sector now employs just under 34,000 people, with international tech firms including Telefonica Tech, Cisco and SAS making the city centre their base. 

In the last 12 months we have had the exciting news that Bruntwood SciTech are creating their first hub in Scotland within the Glasgow City Innovation District and are doubling their initial £30m investment to develop a dedicated digital and tech business hub in the city’s iconic Met Tower.

That development, as well as banking giant Barclays’ decision to open a major new financial hub and Eagle Lab in Tradeston in 2021, reflects the growing confidence in Glasgow and the skills available here.

I believe Glasgow is fast becoming the UK’s most emerging tech ecosystem.

This growth is being driven by innovation expertise in sectors such as space, quantum, fintech, health tech, as well as the creative industries and advanced manufacturing. 

The fact we’re not relying on one particular sub-sector shows the resilience of the city and reflects the wider changes in the global economy. 

That strong base of innovation is now translating into the growth of tech companies like Krucial, Novosound and Streamba, as well as attracting new businesses to the city like AND Digital and LendInvest.

One of the biggest reasons for the attractiveness of Glasgow is its skill base and particularly its ability to attract the best young talent to the city’s universities and colleges. 

Historically, the best computer science students across the country have been attracted by the big move to London, with its financial services industry hiring a substantial number from our universities every year.

But now with Barclays based here, as well as companies like JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, the appeal of staying here in Scotland is certainly growing for students including attracting experienced talent to the city.

Property services firm Savills last year ranked Glasgow number one in the UK for digital tech graduates – with almost a quarter (23 per cent) of all graduate jobs filled in the last 12 months in the sector – which further illustrates the talent we have coming through the city. 

These successes are not by accident, and our organisation Glasgow City Innovation District – Scotland’s first innovation district – has played a key part in pushing forward the city’s progress in this space.

Glasgow City Innovation District is one of three innovation districts creating a unique innovation corridor across Glasgow City Region, alongside the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) and Glasgow Riverside Innovation District (GRID). Glasgow City Region was selected as one of three pilots to share £100m funding, as part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up plans. 

Last month, the project selection phase was completed, resulting in a series of innovation programmes in market sectors like advanced manufacturing, quantum, fintech, life science and net-zero being approved that advances the region’s innovation economy.

As will become clear at this week’s Glasgow Tech Fest, there is a huge passion to help the city’s tech and digital founders and their teams to make a difference.

The range of partners we have for the event, including Bruntwood SciTech, Barclays Eagle Labs, Codebase and Johnston Carmichael, is reflective of the developing private sector stakeholder ecosystem we have here.

I sit on accountancy and business advisory firm Johnston Carmichael’s tech advisory board and know what a great support they are to some of the start-up and scale up firms across the city. 

I’m confident even better days are ahead for our thriving industry, and I look forward to hearing some of the great success stories from our tech ecosystem at this year’s conference.