Live, work, study and invest in the Highlands and Islands 

Who we are and what we do

Scotland has the ambition to rank among the top quartile of OECD countries for productivity, equality and sustainability by creating a productive, inclusive and globally-competitive economy with a high performing labour market. 

Highlands and Islands Enterprise's (HIE's) purpose, as the Scottish Government's economic and community development agency for the Highlands of Scotland, is to generate sustainable and inclusive economic growth across the region in support of the above objective and for the benefit of the people who choose to live, work, study and invest here. 

We want our region to be highly successful and competitive. We support businesses, communities and social enterprises to grow and create a sustainable future. 

Find out more about how we can help below. 

Accelerating business growth

We support businesses to increase productivity and grow through investment, innovation and internationalisation. We offer businesses of all sizes a range of support to help them grow, including:  

Innovation

If you are looking for new opportunities to grow your business, trial new ideas or simply improve your processes, our innovation services may be able to help. Whatever the goal, our expert team are on hand to assist with:

  • Research and development
  • Implementing new ideas
  • Improving existing services
  • Finding new areas for your business to explore
  • Developing a strategy for future innovation

Find out more here > 

Expanding into new markets

Gaining access to overseas markets can help you grow your business but often, the processes involved in exporting can be confusing. Whatever country you're looking at, industry sector you're in or stage your business is at, we can help you reach new markets. 

Find out more here >

Entrepreneurship 

We can provide access to innovative and world class entrepreneurship support including executive education, masterclasses delivered by globally renowned experts, skills workshops, help to accelerate new product development and open doors to world leading research and networking events in the UK and overseas.

Find out more here > 

Graduate placements 

We can help eligible businesses and social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands with the opportunity to employ a graduate or undergraduate. ScotGrad, delivered by HIE and Scottish Enterprise, introduces fresh talent, skills and knowledge into businesses, focusing on growth through innovation, internationalisation, process improvement, product development; digital opportunities or strategic marketing.

The programme offers valuable project management experience for graduates and students and incentive for young people to stay in or relocate to the area.  It also introduces organisations to the benefits of employing graduates and students and gain fresh insight and new ideas for business development.

Find out more about ScotGrad >

Strengthening communities 

Community assets, land and buildings 

We support the growth of the social enterprise sector, and enable communities, particularly in remote and rural areas, to make a significant contribution to place-based development. This work includes supporting community based organisations to own land, buildings and other assets

Community energy 

We have been involved in leading and supporting the growth of the community energy sector in Scotland since 2002. Our region is recognised as a leader in community energy innovation. Many communities are trailblazing innovative developments, leading their communities through a transition to a strong, low carbon economy.

Find out more about our support for community energy developments >

Supporting growth sectors 

Working strategically with sectors that offer distinctive regional opportunities is a key area of focus for HIE. We strive to drive up productivity, shortening supply chains and building scale. 

The key sectors we're currently working in include: energy, life sciences, food and drink, tourism, creative industries, financial and business services, and technology and advanced engineering. 

Find out more about sector development and support available >

Developing an attractive region

We work to make the Highlands and Islands a globally-attractive region. See below for more information on some of the significant regional developments HIE is leading on across the region.  

Inverness Campus


One of the most ambitious projects in Scotland, Inverness Campus is set to become an internationally significant location for business, research and education.

Following the opening of the first buildings in 2015, development has been rapid with the Campus offering a high quality environment for learning, innovation, collaboration and commerce.

A number of businesses are already located at Inverness Campus, with key organisations such as the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and NHS Highland supporting its further growth. HIE is currently marketing a number of fully serviced plots for organisations and companies wishing to join this collaborative partnership and grow their business.

Planned construction projects in 2018 include: a second commercial property, Solasta House, to meet increasing demand from the technology sector; the new Scotland’s Rural College Centre of Excellence for Digital Agriculture and Animal Health; and commencement of the build of the North Bridge providing enhanced active travel links from the Campus to Inverness Retail and Business Park.

Find out more about Inverness Campus >

European Marine Science Park 


The rich marine resources of the Highlands of Islands of Scotland underpin a vibrant and growing economic cluster based on marine science. This includes innovative enterprises, world-class research, excellent locations and facilities, a skilled talent pool, strong government support for business and close links between policy makers, industry and academia.

Situated on Scotland’s stunning West Coast, The European Marine Science Park provides high quality laboratory and office accommodation in an established location for Marine Science. The emerging marine business cluster and world- renowned expertise provide an entrepreneurial community within which new, expanding and inward investing companies can thrive and grow.

Find our more about the European Marine Science Park >

Orkney Research and Innovation Campus

The Orkney Research and Innovation Campus (ORIC) is a joint venture by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Orkney Islands Council (OIC). The campus will support the growth of existing research and innovation activity and the expansion of companies in Orkney’s world-leading marine renewables, energy and low carbon sector. It will also attract additional research activities to Orkney, both from the commercial and academic worlds.

The location is already home to the European Marine Energy Centre, Heriot Watt University’s International Centre for Island Technology, environmental consultants Aquatera and a number of other businesses.

The campus development will be of interest to more academic institutions and businesses with an interest in carrying out research projects in an island setting. This could include research linked to Orkney’s energy resources, transport needs, culture and economy.

Find out more about the Orkney Research and Innovation Campus > 

UK Spaceport

Image: Artist impression courtesy of Perfect Circle PV.

The creation of the UK’s first spaceport in Sutherland is clearly a hugely ambitious project. But this scale of ambition is now typical in the Highlands and Islands, as many recent examples show.

A total funding package of £17.3m has been made available, including £2.5m from UKSA and £9.8m from HIE.

The funding will enable HIE to develop detailed plans and, subject to planning and other regulations, build a vertical launch site for a new generation of small rockets to launch micro communication and earth-observation satellites at The Moine, on the Melness Crofting Estate.

Once the Sutherland site is developed, it is expected to host up to six launches a year, with the first rocket possibly taking off early next decade.

Find out more > 

Liberty British Aluminium

Plans by Liberty Group to create an alloy wheel manufacturing facility at the former smelter in Fort Willian, represents a £450m investment that is expected to create hundreds of skilled jobs.

Instead of just making aluminium and shipping it elsewhere, the company intends to build a factory to produce alloy wheels and other components to supply the UK automotive industry.

Find out more > 

Enterprise Park Forres 

Situated in the idyllic and resourceful north east of Scotland, The Enterprise Park, Forres offers a fantastic working environment. Extending over 100 acres this inspirational business park has a wide range of high quality and flexible business space.

The Park has been developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, who can help you grow your business in this supportive and collaborative location.

Find our more about the Enterprise Park Forres >

Digital connectivity 

The massive improvements in digital and mobile connectivity are creating many new opportunities for commercial, community and academic organisations across the region to expand their global reach.

Find out more about the Digital Highlands and Islands programme and roll-out >