Glasgow Innovation District Celebrates Five Year Anniversary

1st Feb 2024

A GCID Banner adorns a lighting column in the District

Five years ago, Glasgow City Innovation District (GCID) was launched as a hub of collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Based on the internationally recognised model that created Barcelona’s 22@ District and Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Innovation Districts improve productivity, create jobs, and attract inward investment for many cities around the world.

With Glasgow’s economic growth now outperforming the rest of Scotland, the past five years have seen a significant growth in both the Glasgow City Innovation District and Glasgow’s innovation ecosystem.

Aligned to the development of the city’s tech, digital and creative sectors, GCID has supported Glasgow’s tech economy to become the largest in Scotland and one of the fastest growing hubs for venture capital investment in the UK.

Through its ethos as a place to “live, work, play and innovate” GCID has seen committed and future investment value across the District at over £1 billion resulting in new commercial and innovation developments and new partnerships being forged between businesses, the University of Strathclyde and industry.

Glasgow City Innovation District Project Director Alisdair Gunn said: “We’re delighted to be celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Innovation District. Since 2019 there’s been huge investment, property developments and business growth within the area and we’re excited to continue supporting and celebrating the incredible growth of the district's innovation ecosystem.”

Growing investment

The £1 billion of committed and future investment is spread across office and co-working space for the science, tech and creative sectors, residential accommodation, public spaces and transportation.

A key development is the District’s Met Tower where the UK’s largest digital and tech hub developer Bruntwood SciTech has announced plans to invest £60 million into creating a new, large scale, digital and tech hub.

There has also been investment in leisure and living facilities such as The Social Hub at the Candleriggs Square which combines a hotel, apartments and flexible co-working space, and Love Loan just off George Square. Love Loan’s new AC Marriot hotel and Flight Club Social Darts are soon to be joined by Soho House, the private members club for creatives which is to open its first venue for Scotland in GCID.

GCID has been at the forefront of Glasgow’s growing innovation economy. GCID helped develop propositions to benefit from the UK Government’s £100 million investment in a Glasgow “Deeptech” Innovation Accelerator – one of only three in the UK (the others being Greater Manchester and the West Midlands). GCID will be at the forefront of developing Glasgow’s Investment Zone , a £160 million investment over ten years by the UK and Scottish governments to drive growth and innovation amongst priority industry sectors including Life Sciences, Digital & Tech and Advanced Manufacturing.  

This growing public and private investment in innovation and property in GCID and Glasgow is also seeing an increased interest in flexible, hybrid working spaces and labs – ideal spaces for innovation new start and scaling companies.

Bringing the Innovation Ecosystem together

GCID exists to develop and promote an inclusive innovation ecosystem in Glasgow, and since its launch in 2019 the District has supported the development of innovation from across GCID with industry, both in the UK and internationally. This has seen new connections, new business collaborations and increased investment in the District’s SME’s - startups and spinouts. Creating new connections at tech meetups, industry sector events and learning of Glasgow’s business growth needs has been pivotal to the success of GCID.

To help build a self-sustaining ecosystem, GCID has developed Glasgow Tech Fest, the city’s first dedicated event for the tech and digital sector, which brings together founders, investors, leaders, and ecosystem builders for a day of panels, keynotes and fireside chats. Tech Fest is now GCID’s headline conference and has become an annual, must-attend gathering for the local and wider ecosystem. Attendees have reported making important business connections alongside gaining valuable market insights in key topics such as investment and approaches to scaling.

The success of Tech Fest 2021 and 2022 has spurred GCID to develop the inaugural Glasgow Tech Week in May 2024. A first for Scotland, Glasgow Tech Week will see a range of industry events being held across the city and run in collaboration with industry to showcase the expertise and product innovation which Glasgow’s tech ecosystem and businesses have to offer. The main event of Glasgow Tech Week will be Glasgow Tech Fest 2024 which takes place on the 16th May 2024 in the University of Strathclyde’s Technology & Innovation Centre (TIC) on George Street.

International Connections

GCID is a member of three industry organisations, national and international. Dedicated to the professional development of innovation districts, GCID’s growing relationship with the UK Innovation Districts Group (UK IDG), Global Business Districts (GBD) Innovation Club and the International Association of Science Parks and Innovation Areas (IASP) has led to many fruitful partnerships, including the likes of GCID’s space cluster engagement with other international counterparts, as well as GCID’s Climate Neutral activities being represented in a learning expedition and online sessions broadcast internationally.

The annual IASP European Division conference being hosted by GCID in TIC in April 2024, will attract over 100 delegates from around Europe who will gather to exchange insights on tech and science ecosystem development.

GCID is developing Scotland’s most exciting innovation ecosystem and is working with innovation partners across the city, including GCID’s innovation anchor - the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow’s digital and tech companies and community. These international connections continue to put GCID and Glasgow on the global map as a leading hub of innovation.

UK Shared Prosperity Funding (SPF)

In recognition of GCID’s role in providing specialised innovation support, in 2023, Glasgow City Council awarded GCID £900,000 of SPF funding to develop a range of programmes and initiatives to support innovation.

GCID will use SPF funding to create a GCID Innovation Programme focused on accelerating the commercialisation of DeepTech innovation amongst early stage startups. This new GCID programme will support businesses take products to market and create a pipeline of new investable products.

The funding will also allow GCID to continue to lead the building of Glasgow’s tech ecosystem and support deep tech innovation, collaboration, and tech entrepreneurship across the city. GCID is committed to supporting the growth of the local innovation economy, attract investment and further build the Glasgow innovation ecosystem.

On its 5th anniversary the future of the Glasgow City Innovation District looks bright. GCID has helped put innovation on the map in Glasgow and put Glasgow on the innovation map. GCID has been at the forefront on major UK and Scottish government initiatives to support innovation, including start-ups and scale-ups. Though GCID is still a relative newcomer in global innovation districts, it was and is Scotland’s first Innovation District. It has already catalysed nearly £1 billion of investment in GCID, making a significant impact on Glasgow and through further investment and collaboration, Glasgow City Innovation District stands ready to scale even further over the next 5 years to create new businesses, new jobs and new opportunities for Glasgow, its talent and citizens. GCID is helping to make Glasgow flourish.