Euro Exim Bank

Scotland on Top


The latest Ernst & Young Attractiveness Survey, which is widely recognised as the one of the most comprehensive data sets for foreign direct investment across Europe, recently reinforced Scotland’s position as the top region in the UK outside London for foreign direct investment.And while foreign direct investment (FDI) has proved challenging in recent years, Scotland has undoubtedly sharpened its focus on not only maintaining but continuing to build on its reputation as a world class investment location. With a highly-skilled and educated workforce, proximity to European markets, innovative R&D, sophisticated infrastructure, and easy connections to the rest of the world, it’s little wonder Scotland is increasingly viewed as the international partner of choice.

Scotland’s expertise in traditional industries like financial services and oil & gas is well known, and it remains a global leader in these sectors. The financial and business services sector for example, makes a significant contribution to the Scottish economy. With over 200,000 people employed in the sector, it ranks 2nd of all UK regions and 3rd of 19 OECD nations for its high employment levels. Its strengths in asset management, asset servicing and life & pensions are recognised globally, and these contribute to the huge number of companies choosing to make Scotland their home. Recent investments include companies such as Teleperformance, which plans to create up to 1,000 new jobs as part of a large recruitment drive, and KPMG which is set to establish a new Tax Centre of Excellence in Glasgow creating over 150 new jobs.


Scotland is also internationally recognised for its innovation and excellence in growing sectors like life sciences and renewable energy. For example, working closely with the NHS, government, industry and academia, Scotland can open doors to collaborations right across the life sciences industry, from clinical research to commercialisation. And with its unrivalled infrastructure, as well as a unique venture capital fund that focuses on early-stage life sciences and health technology companies, Scotland is leading the way in bringing new products to market and helping companies become globally competitive – all while accelerating medical discoveries and transforming them into treatments for patients.

Equally, building on a strong heritage in the oil & gas industry, Scotland is home to a growing offshore renewables sector. This means Scotland is an exciting opportunity for international companies looking to expand their renewables alt

offering at a global level, particularly in offshore wind. Thanks to an experienced supply chain, with its roots in the oil fields of the North Sea, our companies are taking advantage of opportunities in key offshore developments, both in the UK and further afield. This combined with renewables-related R&D and testing facilities and growing port infrastructure developments mean Scotland is fast becoming a centre for global investment in the sector.


Q & A

Scotland attracts more foreign investors than any other UK region. Why so?

At SDI we are always unstintingly focused on increasing our global reach through our network of offices around the world, to ensure we capitalise on new global opportunities. This along with the fact that Scotland has a conducive business environment where key industries can flourish and operate globally, a great talent pool and strong academia – has consistently helped us attract high levels of foreign direct investment. As a result we’ve seen some great investment projects choose Scotland over the past 5 years from both traditional and emerging economies.

In fact, recent figures from the E&Y Attractiveness Survey found that Scotland was the top UK region (after London) for direct foreign investment, with 82 new FDI projects in 2013 – representing an increase of 8% on 2012 and reaching near record levels. In addition, Scotland’s performance in attracting specifically R&D projects hit a record high with 17 individual projects representing a 70% increase on the previous year and 33% of all R&D projects into the UK. As a country, we have twice been voted ‘European Region of the Future’ by the Financial Times’ Foreign Direct Investment magazine.

Scotland’s economy has traditional strengths in oil & gas, financial services and engineering. But what sectors have recently seen growth?

Scotland boasts an enviable reputation for excellence across a broad industrial base with particular strengths in key sectors including life sciences, energy and tourism. Traditionally, Scotland’s strengths were mainly found in sectors such oil & gas and financial services. However, other growing sectors offer significant opportunities for the Scottish economy. For example, Scotland’s food and drink industry is thriving. With global exports reaching £5.34 billion in 2013, strong primary production and manufacturing sectors and a thriving research and development community, Scotland is well placed to meet growing global demand.

Similarly, Scotland is now world renowned for excellence in computer games design. With hubs in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow it is responsible for an impressive list of iconic, globally successful games such as Grand Theft Auto III. A strong industry cluster, unique skills base and unrivalled support offer companies significant opportunities to tap into Scotland’s £5 billion market and fully functioning supply chain.

Can you give us a few examples of the sort of companies that are choosing to invest in Scotland? Where do these companies come from?

Global companies which have invested in Scotland include GlaxoSmithKline, Aker Solutions, Amazon, BYN Mellon, Avaloq, Emirates Airline and Toshiba.The United States remains Scotland’s biggest source of FDI, accounting for 39.5% of all projects, though we’ve had recent success in securing French, Norwegian, Swedish, Canadian, Indian, Irish and Middle Eastern investments.

What services does Scottish Enterprise provide to support to companies based in Scotland or looking to set up in Scotland?

We focus our support in helping companies to engage in activities such as innovation, leadership development and international collaboration. Access to finance also continues to be challenging for many companies, and through our investment arm, the Scottish Investment Bank , we provide tailored finance products to support both early stage and established companies.

Our international arm, Scottish Development international, offers support to companies looking to trade overseas and those looking to set up in Scotland. This is delivered through 30 overseas offices that create tailored and specific propositions focussing on key sectors where Scotland has a competitive environment.