Area Information

Caithness and Sutherland - key sectors

HIE recognises the challenge of developing new investments and in helping to grow existing businesses in Caithness and Sutherland.

The current stability provided by ongoing work to decommission the Dounreay site is welcome and provides a platform on which to develop new opportunities in the area.

Key sectors for development in Caithness and Sutherland include Energy, Tourism, Business Services, Food and Drink, and Universities.


HIE will develop the existing company base to service nuclear contracts both within the UK and overseas . We anticipate that this will continue to offer significant growth opportunities for businesses based in the area especially in the short-medium term. We will work to help our local supply chain access new and emerging opportunities in the renewables industry (both in marine and offshore wind sectors) and will work with industry bodies such as North Scotland Industries Group (NSIG) to develop better links with the oil and gas sector for local supply chain companies.


We will work with partners to develop John O' Groats as a destination of choice for visitors and to ensure that the area benefits from this increased profile, greater numbers of visitors and increased visitor spend. We will work with North Highland Tourism to help its development into a sustainable destination management organisation. We will work throughout Sutherland to ensure that businesses and communities benefit from increased opportunities to work together to enhance the visitor experience.

Financial and business services

We will build on the centres of excellence that we have in both Caithness and Sutherland to attract more employment around business services. We will develop both the range and skills employed in the area. This will include the attraction of well paid service jobs that can also benefit more remote parts of the area (through increased connectivity and initiatives such as home working).

Food and drink

We will help a range of local companies develop their ability to increase their presence in a number of markets and subsequently lead to increased profitability. We will do so through account management to develop capacity and skills to increase their presence in UK and international markets.


We will build on the work already undertaken by UHI and specifically the Environmental Research Institute to create a research hub for the development of marine renewables. We will also work with UHI to develop their aspirations for a vibrant and growing campus in Dornoch.


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