Area Information

Outer Hebrides - key sectors

Economic activity has grown more diverse in Innse Gall in recent years, with new sectors including renewable energy joining more established ones such as creative industries, food and drink, life sciences, textiles and tourism.

Renewable energy

HIE has invested to equip the former oil fabrication yard at Arnish as a multi-user industrial estate, ideally suited for renewable energy manufacturing. Other funding has been provided by the European Regional Development Fund and the Scottish Government. Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) is the main employer on the site.

Lews Castle College, Stornoway, is also home to the Greenspace research centre, specialising in renewable energy research and commercialisation. A host of small-scale renewable energy projects are helping to power communities across the islands, as well as generating income.

Life Sciences

Nutritional and pharmaceutical supplements have been produced at Breasclete on the west side of Lewis since the 1980s. BASF Pharma (Callanish) Ltd now operates state of the art laboratories at the site, developing and producing highly purified omega 3 rich fatty acids used in pharmaceutical products and dietary supplements. Largely an exporting business, the company opened new warehouse and parking facilities in June 2017, which will allow for further expansion of this vibrant business. 


The islands attract thousands of visitors every year. Key attractions include stunning scenery, rare wildlife, prehistoric stone circles including Callanish, along with modern arts venues and events such as the annual Hebridean Celtic music festival.

Food and drink

The Outer Hebrides is famed throughout the world for the quality of its food, especially freshly caught fish and shellfish. Aquaculture and fish processing are significant industries on the islands. In addition to this, Isle of Harris Distillery opened in 2015, first legal distillery on the previously ‘dry’ Harris.

Creative industries

Creative industries play a growing role in island life. HIE has supported the creation of a new creative industries and media centre in Stornoway, developed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in a former textile mill.

Back to top