The author misses quite a few of the main things that I find great about being in Scotland, although I do agree with the general thrust.
Some thoughts about Scotland compared with the USA, having previously started and ran 3 companies there:
- wages are very cheap here compared to the USA or even the South (England), and the talent is good.
- It's easy to market to and service the USA (no huge timezone difference or language barrier and Americans like the Scottish accent).
- there are already some incredible tax advantages (low capital gains) for startups, and more being pushed by the current government.
- most funding seems to be done by angel syndicates in a public / private hybrid where both the gov and the angels share risk and reward. I much prefer the syndicate model to individuals as you get more structure and less hassle.
- you don't need health insurance for employees, which removes a distraction and makes your job offer compete on a more level playing field when compared against a traditional large company
- the tech community like the author pointed out is really good, particularly for the size
- the quality of life here is AMAZING. Can't fully describe the benefits in a comment.
- office space is currently very cheap
- great public transport
- easy to travel (for business and pleasure) to either EU or USA
Is office space really that cheap in Edinburgh or other large cities?
The cost of living is cheaper and quality of life is usually considered better, so when making personal decisions about where to go it's not just a simple wages comparison.
For a business this can be an advantage.
For a country with a rich, celebrated history of inventions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_inventions_and_discove...), it would be wonderful if we could eventually see a start-up culture like they have in NY/SF.
Can we please not call it Silicon Glen though?
Edit: As a developer from Glasgow I find it hard to find interesting start-ups. If any happen to be reading, I'd love to hear from you: <shamelessPlug>http://martinw.net </shamelessPlug>
How about this? :-)
"A NEW technology strip, dubbed the “Silicon bridges”, is emerging in the centre of Edinburgh as the city becomes a hotspot for internet start-ups."
(Although I'm amused to see they still haven't corrected the typo in the place name in the headline.)
> Edit: As a developer from Glasgow I find it hard to find interesting start-ups.
Try hanging out at the tech events around town <shamelessPlug> - see details on http://opentechcalendar.co.uk/index.php (Disclaimer: that's my project).</shamelessPlug>
too late, I'm afraid - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_Glen
The first is that the VC funding is just not at the same levels as in the US. Secondly, the talent pool is way to small. As much as we like to think the presence of 4 universities in Glasgow alone must mean we are overflowing with people this just isn't the case, you are lucky if you have 40 final year students in a CS course, and maybe around 15% of them are actually "excellent", and the numbers have been decreasing over the years. I have at least 4 friends that were looking to recruit in the last month or so and each one has been despondent about the quality of the candidates. Then finally you are going to be in a dog fight with the large financial institutions that dominate the hiring of new grads. Graduates here are still relatively conservative in what kind of job they want.
However, where I do think we can excel is in creating tech startups that don't focus so much on the consumer side of things. There are plenty of hard problems out there that don't necessarily need 300 million active users to make some money.
I'm sure if a startup looked as if it was becoming a global hist then it would relocate to the U.S. if it wasn't bought by an existing company there first.
If I ever move back to Europe I'm heading to Berlin. Ireland's weather is awful and it's depressing as hell to be in a country where everyone is leaving.
Total cost of living was pretty high, and I'm coming from one of the more expensive regions in Europe. I'll definitely have to visit again. A callcenter job and depressed Scandinavian roomates probably colored my impressions a bit…
A nice apartment would run you about £550/$800 a month which is a tad dear but its a great city with so much going on.
A walk around the museum will show you a place that was built on inventions and innovation.
only downside is the scottish climate
Some of my favs are RefreshGla, RookieOven, Techmeetup and Popup Hack (which I organise)
There are details and more events listed on http://glasgow2.com/
Don't let ppl tell you there is a Edinburgh vs Glasgow divide btw; it's only 50mins via trains that run late at night so it's easy to nip across for the evening.
Also check out http://opentechcalendar.co.uk/index.php - that has more Edinburgh events at the moment but it's very early days for this site and more are being added all the time. (Disclaimer: That's my project.)
The number of people from the capital who have attended RookieOven meetup at least once over the past year is appalling. I get the feeling it's the same for TechMeetup, Refresh, Popup Hack and more.
I guess I'd just like more people to think about it. To many people go "Glasgow/Edinburgh, eww" and set up a false divide without even considering if it's possible to head across.
From what I've seen at Techmeetup (both Edinburgh & Glasgow) the number of travelers is small, but they are there.
I would fully agree that a university education is not required in order to be considered talented (some of the most talented people I know didn't attend university), but at the same time having a degree shows a certain level of ability. If you have a CS degree, you should at least know your way around a computer, and the post-graduate research being done by universities is world leading. Being at the forefront of your field isn't talent, what is? (again acknowledging that this doesn't make those people product geniuses - a different form of talent!)
Scotland has a much smaller talent pool of developers than many other countries
Presumably only because the population is smaller than many other countries?
It wasn't clear but I was meaning talent to staff the startups, I don't think there would be a bottleneck! It would would stop the drain.
There are lots of clever Economists who expalin how different choices will cost / bring in millions or billions but I have yet to see anything promising more than 2k per citizen - and to be honest I doubt anyone will move house to get a 2k pay raise, so the overall effect - minimal
of course some areas of Scotland are long term grindingly poor and recieive lots of start up credits (they are called enterprise zones) - but they are nit focused on HN style startups, services and light industry is the bigger recipien of enterprise grants.
My area in northern England is like this - you can't move for constant advertisements for "start-up events," in the local newspapers, on the local radio and so on. It just feels like a way of spending EU money. I don't think they actually hand out many start-up grants or credits, they just run these endless "events."
I live in a small town of 8,000, and they even have them every month there, plugged ceaselessly on the local radio station. It's quite a good way of propping up the local media with advertising revenue, but I'd be interested to know how many people actually get anything out of this.
I grew up near Greenock, which fits that description fairly well and found that the Scottish Enterprise system round there was not at all geared for anything remotely ambitious. Although I found that the people on the front line were great, as I delved further into the depths of the monster I just got circulated between stuffy box tickers, who seem immune to novelty as it is never their department. The whole experience was just depressing and completely unrewarding.
The only way things could change massively would be if a newly independent Scotland left the EU, which as far as I know, noone wants. Scotland in the EU would mean Scotland would have access to the EU single market (which includes England etc.). This means there'd be no customs, visas etc with England (etc.)
It's unlikely they are hoping for a nationalistic fillip but more a negotiating position over the actual wording of the referendum - but it is an amusing bit of chutzpah and what one expects of the SNP leader :-)
There's going to be a lot of horsetrading and politicing over what the referendum will actually say, e.g. if there was 2 questions "Do you want independence? Yes/No If not, do you want Scotland to have more power Yes/No", then the Scottish independence people can almost win either way, if 50.00001% vote for independence, they can claim it, if not, but a majority say "more power", then they can claim more power for Scottish Parliament
If they do become independent, they will have to create their own currency, or join the sinking Euro.
On a more mundane note the SNP currently seems to be aiming for devo-max, (devolution maximum) where Foreign and Defence policy stay with Westminster and in other matters Scotland is for practical purposes independent. Devil's in the details of course.
No reason you can't use the same currency as another country. Some non-EU countries (Montenegro and Kosovo) use the Euro and aren't in EU.
On a currency side note, I do wish someone would not divide their main currency into 100's (decimal) so pennies wouldn't exist. How about being a nice non-decimal 12?
I wish the US would get rid of the penny and nickel and go to a one decimal digit system instead of two. It would be better to go to 12 -> 1 just because of divisors (10: 1, 2, 5 or 12: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6). Much better for dividing food bills.
* pound - 240 old pence
* 10 bob note - 120 old pence
* crown - 60 old pence
* half crown - 30 old pence
* florin/2-bob bit - 24 old pence
* shilling/bob - 12 pence
* sixpence - 6 old pence
* thrupenny bit - 3 old pence
* penny, ha'penny (and before my time, farthing - one quarter of an old pence).
Missing intervals are the groat (4 old pence) in the old Scotch money.
I know plenty of businesses eyeing up moves across the border.
Funding isn't just about 'ding, dong, gies some money'.
Joking aside thanks for that, looks like a great way to lplug into the funding network.