Glasgow: A City of Opportunity

March 21, 2019
Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes

Co-Founder of RookieOven and Add Jam

Being a Glaswegian is a weird one, we're simultaneously passionate about our hometown and equally critical.

Citizens of the city will instantly leap to the defence of Glasgow; if anyone dares to say anything bad about our city we’ll boom with pride how great it is. At the same time, we're also the first to complain, talk our city down and belittle most aspects of our city from the weather to the public transport. Well, I'm not going to do that. I truly believe Glasgow is a city bursting with opportunity and unmet potential.

It’s one of the best places in Europe to be for tech.

Education and talent

The city is home to world-renowned Universities with Glasgow University, Strathclyde, Glasgow School of Art and Caledonian sitting within the city boundaries, and West of Scotland on the fringes of the city. That solid base of educators and researchers creates a strong pull for talent to come from across the world and learn here.

Who benefits from that? The businesses based here. We can tap into world-class research or employ from a broad talent base that stems from the universities around us. Few cities in the world have the same pull of educators and therefore the benefit of the depth of talent on their doorstep.

Cost of living

When was the last time you went down to London? Did you pay less than £7 for a pint? Using the entirely unscientific GPP (General Pint Price) index, Glasgow is way more affordable, with anything over a fiver being considered an expensive pint.

In all seriousness. Glasgow is substantially cheaper to live in. A city centre apartment or a flat in a trendy area of town, like the West End or Shawlands, is certainly less than £1000 per month when taking into account council tax and utilities. In other cities across the UK, the cost of living is vastly higher.

It’s the same story for businesses, too. Business accommodation in Glasgow is affordable, whether that be a coworking space like RookieOven or The Whisky Bond or a unit of your own.

Why is this important? Well, your pounds will last longer and stretch further - both personally and for your businesses.

Work-life balance

We’ve established Glasgow is an affordable place to be and we have a talent pool. Other cities can boast about that, but what I think really sets us apart is what we have on our doorstep.

You can go see Beyonce at the Hydro (the eighth-busiest music arena in the world in terms of ticket sales, by the way) in the evening and the next day you can explore the Trossachs or nip up to Glencoe. The city is a short journey to the beautiful west coast and the islands like Arran, Skye, Bute and Harris or you can potter around one of the world-renowned museums in the city - many of them are free to enter.

You might think that with us having wilderness on our doorstep, we might be a bit isolated. Nope. Glasgow has two airports with direct flights across Europe and to the US, and Edinburgh airport is actually pretty close too. We have fast and frequent trains to London and other major UK cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle leaving from the city centre multiple times a day.

No other city in the world has that mix of modern, living city and accessible wilderness on your doorstep.

Work to be done

It’s not all sunshine and flowers, though, and there’s still so much to be done.

Locally there’s a fractured business community. Too many institutions are building walls around their ecosystem, rather than being open and embracing one another - that might be universities, publicly funded bodies, or member organisations - but all too often they’re duplicating effort or fighting over the same slice of pie. However I see opportunity here. What we need is a cultural change in organisations like these, and I think the RookieOven community leads by example here. Our actions speak louder than words and we are open, transparent, helpful, supportive and working together to make Glasgow a stronger place for the tech companies who call it home.

Our geography as a city, as great as it is, gives us a set of problems. The M8 motorway cuts through the heart of the city, making travel cumbersome by bike or on foot. Our public transport is lacking, and whilst the subway serves the centre and west end and ScotRail trains serve most of the city, the east end and north are far harder to get to by train. That leaves buses; which are a complicated mess. Our biggest weakness is a lack of integrated transport like you see in London through TfL. This isn’t an easy problem to solve, but it is something that technology can help with, and is an example of an opportunity for companies to innovate in the city.

Get involved

Glasgow is pretty great, agreed? Yes, there are a few problems, but nothing that the people of Glasgow can't fix. The only thing that's left is getting you involved in the city.

If you have an interest in tech startups get along to the next RookieOven Meetup on the first Monday of each month or if you're looking for a role at a tech company check out the job board.

If that's not your bag, don't worry, the Open Tech Calendar is full of great events each month and Meetup and Eventbrite have a whole host of activities you can get involved with instead.

See you around the city.

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