Edinburgh – Success in Diversity
Edinburgh's diversified economy and international reputation are helping the city continue to attract investment, despite challenging economic conditions.
Recent data showed Scotland's capital was outperforming comparator UK cities in key economic indicators and weathering the recession relatively well.
New business incorporations, house prices and city centre footfall last year outstripped average year-on-year performances in cities including Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham and Liverpool. Edinburgh was also the only UK airport increasing passenger numbers, and was the UK's strongest performer outside London for hotel occupancy and revenue per available room in the year to end September 2009. Remarkably, given the credit freeze and global downturn, the 'Inspiring Capital' also attracted more overseas investments in the first six months of 2009 than in the whole of 2008 and 2007.
"Edinburgh has strong underlying assets underpinning this resilience," explains Councillor Tom Buchanan, Edinburgh's Economic Development Convener. "Another positive for us is the fact that longer-term investor confidence in the city is still strong, with more than £1 billion earmarked for city centre development alone. For a small European capital, we do a lot of things that a major metropolis would be proud of."
The city's key industry sectors are among its strongest assets and offer excellent potential for inward investment.
Edinburgh is Britain's second largest financial centre and Europe's fourth by equity assets. It is also an international fund management hub, with £360 billion under management. Despite the banking crisis, confidence in the sector remains high. Tesco Personal Finance and Virgin Money are among those opening new operations in Edinburgh, while demand for functions such as asset servicing remains strong.
Owen Kelly, Chief Executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise, the representative body for Scotland's financial services industry, believes the strength of Edinburgh's financial sector lies in its diversity.
"We have investment managers, insurance, life and pensions, asset servicing and a large professional services and broking community as well as banking, so it's deep, strong, and internationally very significant," he explains. "Taken together, we should be cautiously optimistic about Edinburgh's ability to come through this period of change and renewal and to continue to grow and develop."
Edinburgh City Region is also one of Europe's top ten locations for science and technology and has changed the world with innovations from antiseptic to the world's first cloned mammal.
The city's universities are global centres of excellence in disciplines including informatics, stem cell research, biotechnology and microelectronics. This has helped attract global players including AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Charles River Laboratories and Xilinx, the world’s leading supplier of ‘programmable logic’.
Landmark projects including Edinburgh BioQuarter, the UK's largest life sciences real estate development, will continue to strengthen this reputation.
In renewable energy, Edinburgh's reputation for innovation includes developing the technology behind the world's first commercial wave farm and, in creative industries, Grand Theft Auto, the multi-award winning games franchise. Tourism is another major employer, with 4m visitors a year injecting £2 billion into the local economy.
These credentials helped Edinburgh win Europe’s Top Small City accolade in the 2008 Financial Times fDi (Foreign Direct Investment) magazine awards.
Critically, Edinburgh City Region offers investors one of the most highly qualified workforces in the UK, with 44.2% of the population holding a degree level or professional qualification. This compares to a UK average of 28.5%.
Edinburgh also boasts Scotland's busiest airport – with connections to more than 100 destinations worldwide (including New York [JFK], Newark and Toronto) – Britain's biggest train station outside London and the largest freight port area in Scotland.
Underpinning all this is the Inspiring Capital's unbeatable quality of life, borne out by at least 12 UK Best City Awards – and consistent ratings of 90%-plus in resident satisfaction polls.