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UK regions ready to fuel the tech phenomena as CBRE ranking reveals winning creative credentials

Leading property consultant CBRE has today published ‘Creative Regions’, a first of its kind report, showcasing the top 25 regional creative locations in the UK, outside of London. 

These locations are identified as having the key ingredients required by this sector to progress and develop as future destinations for the creative industries (including publishing, film, TV, media, digital, computer programming and information services). 

Common characteristics of successful creative locations include large concentrations of creative businesses and professionals, deep talent pools of highly educated graduate populations, large and growing millennial populations, good transport connections, quality of life and proximity to world class universities with strong research and computer science ratings. 

Scotland, home to many of the UK’s leading video gaming companies, is notably well represented in the top 25.  Edinburgh and Glasgow feature very highly, in third and fifth position respectively. Both cities score highly for concentrations of creative businesses, creative professionals and millennial populations. They also benefit from highly educated populations, proximity to world class universities with strong research and computer degree rankings.  In particular, access to graduates from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics is a big draw for tech companies who want to ensure they are close to the best recruitment pools. 

Edinburgh has stood out as a city experiencing rapid growth in the creative industries.  In 2016 it beat London, Cambridge and Manchester to the title of Entrepreneurial City of the Year which was judged on attributes including its quality of life, access to capital and talent, entrepreneurial culture and access to support networks. Its home-grown businesses are now attracting global attention, notably the acquisition of Skyscanner by Chinese travel tech firm Ctrip. 

Stewart Taylor, senior director in CBRE’s Edinburgh office, said:  “The tech phenomena looks set to continue in Scotland as the technology and creative industries in general are not affected by regulatory restrictions or fears over single market access. 

“Contrary to common perception, large numbers of these companies are choosing to base themselves outside of London in some of the UK’s core regional cities where they can stand out from the crowd in order to gain higher profile and attract skilled employees, and we expect this trend to continue.” 

In Glasgow the recently opened Tontine Building has already attracted a number of new tech occupiers including CodeClan, Scotland’s first SQA accredited digital skills academy, which expects to train over 250 software developers in 2017. 

Audrey Dobson, senior director in the Glasgow office, added:  “Evidence shows that regional cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow have a critical mass of talent necessary to compete successfully in the creative sector.  

“Additionally the return to urban living is easier to achieve in regional centres such as Glasgow and Edinburgh. There are also many other tempting reasons to locate in Scotland including quality of life and cost of living.  Indeed, given the growing cost of higher education, and the cost of living in London, the large regional centres are increasingly proving an attractive proposition for graduates and employers.” 

Paul Lewis, managing director of International Operations at Scottish Enterprise, said:  “I am pleased but not at all surprised to see both Edinburgh and Glasgow in the top five UK locations for creative talent outside of London.  Both cities are already home to growing numbers of vibrant creative and technology businesses focused on global growth.  Scotland continues to be the top UK location for foreign direct investment outside of London, with so much to offer talented individuals and entrepreneurs are choosing to locate here.” 

Emma Jackson, associate director in CBRE Research, commented:  “As this sector continues to grow, the choice of office space and where to locate will be ever more critical to its sustainability and future growth. Through an in-depth understanding of the unique characteristics and potential of particular markets, which this new research offers, businesses will be better placed to make effective, cost efficient and informed property decisions that will greatly aid in the quest to attract and also crucially to retain the best talent to create competitive advantage.” 

Top 10 (from the top 25) CBRE UK regional creative talent markets*: 

78.6

#1  MANCHESTER

67.8

#2 

READING

66.7

#3 

EDINBURGH

66.3

#4 

CAMBRIDGE

64.6

#5  GLASGOW

64.3

#6 

OXFORD

63.0

#7  BIRMINGHAM

61.3

#8 

BRISTOL

59.0

#9 

BRIGHTON

58.8

#10 

LEEDS

*The score for each city is based on analysis of fifteen individual measures, weighted and amalgamated to give an overall score for each city. The individual measure includes data on employment, demographics, costs, education and real estate.

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