Scotland – Land of the Start-Up Business


Scotland has long held a reputation as a country of innovation. Throughout the industrial revolution and the Victorian era, Scots were at the forefront of the invention of mass production with a number of high profile inventions and discoveries. Such was their commitment to the advancement of the world, it was Winston Churchill who famously stated “Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.”

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the list of Scottish inventions and discoveries as listed by Stephen Fry on an episode of the BBC’s QI quiz show. In recent years, Caledonia has showed no signs of slowing its approach to innovation and discovery. To celebrate that, here’s some of the most exciting start-up businesses operating out of Scotland today. Some are big, some are small, but all show Scottish innovation at its finest.


With its origins tracing back to the turn of the Millennium, the Edinburgh based flight booking engine is one of the most successful metasearch engines running online today. The idea came about after one of the founding members was frustrated with the difficulty in finding cheap flights to go skiing, and thus the booking platform was born. In November 2016, Skyscanner was sold to a Chinese travel company for £1.4 billion.

Wave Energy Scotland

Thanks to its dramatic coastline, and indeed inland geography, Scotland has been home to some of the most interesting innovations in green energy. Many valleys in the highlands are suitable for hydro-electric dams and there are a number of off-shore windfarms that power Scottish cities. Wave Energy Scotland is an initiative to harness the power of waves. Something that there is no shortage in. Ideas like ‘the snake’ have revealed this could be the future in clean energy.


Once a small time web blog operating out of Pete Cashmore’s Aberdeen University dorm room, Mashable now describes itself as ‘the leading media company for the Connected Generation and the voice of digital culture’. Thanks to the rise of knowledge sharing online, Mashable has asserted itself as an authority on all things tech-based as is now headquartered in New York City with 120 employees.

Why is Scotland able to continue to make such dramatic in-roads in the world of innovation? A lot of it comes down to the level of education that is available to the public. Unlike England and Wales, Scottish students are able to attend university for free. This has had an encouraging effect on the numbers of young Scottish people with good qualifications.

Another important factor here is that Scottish universities attract world-class talent. People come from all over the world to study at Scottish institutions. Edinburgh, Glasgow, and St Andrews University all feature in the top 100 rated universities in the world. The Scottish population is generally a well-educated on too, thanks to access to online resources that can help build a business from the ground up.

Though many of the Scottish inventions listed by Stephen Fry hold their origins in the Victorian-era, it’s safe to say that innovation here shows no signs of slowing any time soon.


Comments 1

Fionan Murray on Tuesday, 07 November 2017 10:00

...and also has one of the great work ethics in the world!

...and also has one of the great work ethics in the world!
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