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Why are megacities on the rise and why should you care?

 
Tom Hall
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Whether forward vision or reflection, you don't have to operate in a megacity to grow your tech or fintech firm.

Hear that?

That's the sound of mental cogs grinding; business owners poring over Google, deciding where to put a pin in the map to grow their operations.

The decision is not always as blind as pinning a tail on the proverbial donkey. If you produce Champagne or coffee, for example, you have the sense and scents to know where to set-up shop. But what if you run a fledging fintech or tech firm? Google will bamboozle you with many buoyant locations .

​The rise of the megacity

Despite an increase in remote working, our cities are attracting more people and businesses than ever. There are now 31 cities — megacities — with populations over 10 million. In 2012 there were only 23. And this rapid cityward migration is showing no signs of slowing.

So what if your business is location-neutral? I could be in London, Scotland or even both. And this is especially true as both places are teeming with tech talent with a vibrant bonanza of organisations operating in sectors that are now seismic.

Lessons from Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is proof that related-companies working together can be good for business. But this famous success story also has a less optimistic sub-plot: the population boom here has shifted the balance of supply and demand in jobs and housing. The result is a region labelled by Business Insider UK as "unaffordable even for software engineers".

Scottish seafood

In the UK, the cost of living in Manchester or Glasgow is a full 35% lower than that of London.

Beyond the megacity

Megacity inflation can be seen closer to home too. London is pricey for many, causing more and more businesses to look for opportunities outside the capital. The savings on offer are substantial for example. The cost of living in Manchester or Glasgow is 35% lower than that of London.

Investment across the board

That's not to say that these 'standard' cities aren’t keeping up. Manchester has just doubled its infrastructure fund. Glasgow is leading the way in technology-driven growth, thanks to a £24 million investment from Innovate UK, while Scotland as a whole has a burgeoning fintech industry. For those looking to find a balance between urban infrastructure and out-of-town convenience, this is it.

Money Dashboard's success story

Edinburgh's fintech start-up scene has shown that you don't need a heaving metropolis to attract investment and build products. Steve Tigar, CEO of Money Dashboard says:

"Edinburgh's very much on the map for VCs. Despite not being located in a megacity, we found it easy to get the people we need. We're fortunate to have a deep talent pool, and a constant pipeline of people coming through from the universities. And our workforce is international: we've got people from all over Europe, Asia and America. They're drawn to Edinburgh and stay here because they fall in love with it."

Making the destination decision for yourself

When vetting locations for your overseas expansion, it's essential to look beyond the usual suspects. Many of the world's smaller cities offer the collaborative culture of Silicon Valley, but with an infinitely more affordable price tag. They combine opportunities, infrastructure and work-life balance.

Wherever your business chooses to lay its hat and its home, expanding into a lower cost yet highly endowed location could work wonders.

Want to put a pin in the map of investment opportunities in Scotland?

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