Scotland's Economy

Glasgow and Edinburgh top the ‘European Cities of the Future’ rankings

Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, was named ‘large European city of the future for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) strategy’ by the Financial Times’ fDi Intelligence European Cities of the Future 2020/21 report. The country’s capital, Edinburgh, on the other hand, was ranked second overall in the ‘mid-sized European city of the future’ category. In addition, Livingston, the largest town in the West Lothian region of Scotland, was sixth overall in the ‘micro European city of the future’ rankings.    

Being named as the city that employs the most effective strategies to attract foreign investors, is a major recognition for Glasgow1 and in particular for ‘Invest Glasgow,’ Glasgow City Council’s inward investment team.2 Invest Glasgow’s main aim is ‘to promote Glasgow as a top location for FDI’ in order for it to become ‘the best performing city for inward investment and the most productive major UK city by 2023.’

FDI strategy is a standalone category in the report that ranks European cities according to the strategies they employ to attract foreign investors.3 FDI is a very important aspect of an economy, especially in an interconnected/globalised economic environment, as it can enable development through the creation of new jobs and financing infrastructure projects. Susan Aitken, Councillor/Leader of Glasgow City Council, says:

“Glasgow’s ranking as the top European city for foreign direct investment is a great achievement, and something that has come about through the hard work of the council and our many partners. An environment that is friendly to and supportive of business investment has been created, attracting a number of major new developments including Barclays in Tradeston and JPMorgan Chase on Argyle Street. These investments bring thousands of jobs and increased economic activity to Glasgow, in turn attracting further investment that can benefit the whole of the city.”

For instance, according to a report by the Glasgow City Council: ‘headline FDI investment into Glasgow between April 2018 and March 2019 equated to 14 projects which generated a total of 333 jobs (an average of 24 jobs per project) and total capital investment of £52.3 million (an average of £3.75 million per project).’ Glasgow Economic Strategy 2016-2023 ‘aims to make Glasgow the most productive major city economy in the UK and create 50,000 new jobs by 2023 across eight key sectors.’ 

Edinburgh, on the other hand, has for years now been identified as one of Europe’s centres of commerce, culture and innovation and one of the UK’s fastest growing and most productive cities. Edinburgh has been consistently among the top mid-sized European cities of the future in terms of providing an environment for businesses to flourish, with one of the most highly-skilled workforces in Europe.4 

For instance, ’44.1% of new businesses in Edinburgh are still trading after 5 years, a rate of survival higher than most other UK cities,’ according to the Edinburgh by Numbers 2018 report. In addition, Edinburgh has the highest Gross Value Added (GVA) per head in Scotland and among the top-10 in the UK with £24,697 in Q3, 2018. This shows that Edinburgh provides an environment that enables businesses to survive and thrive.  

Business for Scotland have continuously demonstrated the abilities and potential of the Scottish economy. Glasgow and Edinburgh’s success in the rankings demonstrates precisely why we have been arguing on behalf of Scotland’s economy. Even the ranking of Livingston, a town established almost 50 years ago,5 among the top micro European cities of the future, does not come as a surprise to us. These results also show that the Scottish government and the local authorities should continue to develop effective policies and strategies, to enable further growth. 

  1. Glasgow was ranked seventh overall in the ‘Large European City of the Future 2020/21’ category.
  2. Invest Glasgow works closely with the Scottish Government, Scottish Development International (SDI), Scottish Enterprise (SE) and other relevant stakeholders to maximise synergetic benefits from coordinated and integrated policies and programmes.
  3. The European Cities of the Future report, is a study that ranks Europe’s top investment destinations. The main indicators used for the rankings are the city’s or region’s: cost effectiveness, human capital and lifestyle, business friendliness, connectivity, and economic potential.
  4. For more information about education and workforce skills in Scotland you can read one of our previous articles: ‘Scotland’s people are the most highly educated in Europe.’
  5. The key factor in Livingston’s success has been its location. Lying just 15 miles west of Edinburgh it has benefitted from the capital’s spectacular economic success in recent years. The result has been a boom in house building accompanied by high levels of investment in shopping and other services in the town.’

Photo credit

About the author

Sotirios Frantzanas

Leave a Comment