Campbelltown harbour at sunset boats with pink sky

Key industries and assets

The Highlands and Islands enviable geography, proximity to coastal waters and natural assets provides a distinct competitive advantage for multiple sectors across our region.


Food and drink

The region’s food and drink offering has an enviable reputation, with value associated to provenance, place, people, and culture. When you choose the Highlands and Islands, you’ll discover significant opportunities for expansion into new premium markets. Employing around 34,000 people, the Highlands and Islands’ food and drink sector has a higher proportion of the total workforce compared to Scotland overall.

You can be assured that continued technological investment will only improve productivity and competitiveness, preserving value through authenticity and traceability, directly attributing the quality of the region’s premium products to its world-class natural assets.


Distilleries in the Highlands and Islands can leverage the region’s unique water, geology and climate to produce flavourful whiskies. Did you know that four of Scotland’s five Scotch whisky regions are located in the Highlands and Islands?

Supported by the Scotch Whisky Association, the industry has committed to reaching net zero emissions in its operations by 2040 and to dramatically reducing the environmental impact of Scotland’s national drink in other areas. Aligned to these ambitions, significant investments are being made in low carbon energy solutions, sustainable supply chains and new facilities. In 2021, independent whisky distillery Nc’nean, located in the Morvern peninsula, became the first in the UK to reach net zero emissions for production, beating the industry target by nearly 20 years.

Salmon and aquaculture 

When you locate in the Highlands and Islands, you’ll benefit from the region’s temperate waters and coastal weather conditions, which are perfect for breeding healthy salmon – one of the region’s biggest exports. The aquaculture sector is supported by a strong research, development and education community and you’ll benefit from a well established, ambitious supply chain, providing high-quality services ranging from genetics to workboat services.


Life sciences 

The dispersed population and unique geography of the Highlands and Islands makes it an ideal location to develop, test and trial new and innovative technologies in healthcare and health tech. The region’s ambition is for healthcare technologies to enable patients to be treated remotely if appropriate, meaning they don’t need to travel long distances to access hospital care.


LifeScan, one of Scotland’s largest medical technology companies, is located in Inverness, employing over 850 staff in the development and manufacturing of blood glucose monitoring devices. Producing 5 billion test strips annually, they supply global markets from their Inverness base.

Inverness Campus

Inverness Campus is a world-class business location with pioneering facilities. It brings together businesses, researchers, academia and scientists providing the perfect place to collaborate and innovate.

The Campus is the ideal, purpose-built location for those operating in life sciences, digital healthcare and technology. Developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the 215-acre site is already a thriving community of technology and life sciences organisations – and there’s room for more. We have flexible land options available and new properties on the way to accommodate others

European Marine Science Park

The European Marine Science Park (EMSP) is situated in Argyll on Scotland’s west coast. It boasts world-class facilities in a stunning natural environment creating the perfect location for marine science research and blue economic business growth opportunities.

The Science Park is already home to an established community which includes innovative businesses, world-class research, high-quality workspaces and facilities, a skilled talent pool. More than 100 marine scientists are permanently stationed here to better understand local marine ecology and expand the region’s scientific reputation.

The Park has grown around the research, knowledge and facilities of the Scottish Association for Marine Science.

The Scottish Association for Marine Science

Based at the European Marine Science Park, the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) – Scotland’s oldest and largest independent marine science organisation – focuses on understanding how to build a productive and sustainable marine environment.

Scotland’s Rural College

Located on Inverness Campus, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) hosts researchers working to improve and maintain animal health and welfare. Work has commenced on a new £11 million rural and veterinary innovation centre on the Campus which will harness expertise in big data and research into animal epidemiology to create and grow businesses.

Port of Nigg with large yellow platforms for offshore wind farm


With a strong legacy in the oil and gas industry and an abundance of renewable energy resources, the Highlands and Islands is ideally placed to be at the forefront of the renewable energy industry. 

Kishorn Port and Dry Dock

Sitting on 45 hectares of land ready for immediate development, and an additional 10 hectares available, Kishorn Port and Dry Dock offers a prime location for development. Sectors currently operating here include oil and gas, aquaculture and renewable energy. 

The Port of Nigg/Nigg Energy Park

Providing turnkey solutions to the international energy sector, the Port of Nigg features 1,135 metres of deep-water quayside, mobile drilling rigs with inspection, repair and maintenance works.

Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport

Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport has been selected to become one of Scotland’s first Green Freeports. The Green Freeport aims to build a world-beating floating offshore wind manufacturing sector, creating up to 25,000 new jobs and attracting £2.6 billion in inward investment. In addition to offshore wind manufacturing, it will focus on green hydrogen and creating a new innovation cluster in life sciences.

Beatrice wind farm turbines and oil tanker


The Highlands and Islands is committed to a highly productive, net zero future and is supporting this transition through a number of pioneering projects across the region.

ORION Project

The Orion Project aims to transform Shetland into the home of secure and affordable energy. The ambition is to fuel a cleaner future and protect the environment by harnessing the islands’ renewables potential, using onshore and offshore wind, wave and tidal energy.

European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC)

A research facility in Orkney, focused on how energy can be generated by harnessing ocean waves and tidal streams, EMEC has conducted and tested wave and tidal energy conversion technology since 2003. The centre is also pioneering the creation of hydrogen from tidal energy.


ScotWind is set to see the installation of up to 28GW of fixed and floating offshore wind farms in the waters around Scotland. Of the 20 projects proposed, 15 are in the waters off the coast of the Highlands and Islands.



When you locate in the Highlands and Islands, you’ll be connected to a network of innovation centres, providing you with the support you need to grow your business.

The Data Lab

The Inverness hub of the Data Lab helps businesses to maximise the value of their data by providing specialist advice, support and training.

The Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre

The Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) works to increase the economic impact and reduce the environmental impact of aquaculture by leveraging commercial enterprise and academia to fund and support commercially relevant, collaborative research.

Tech Scaler hub

We’re ready to turn Scotland into a tech nation. The Scottish Government is investing £42 million to establish a network of seven hubs across the country, giving companies like yours access to education and mentoring, as well as opportunities for peer learning and networking.



The Highlands and Islands is fast becoming a hub of space sector activity and looks set to continue to play a vital role for years to come.

Commercial Satellite

Scotland’s northern geography and low population base provide the perfect conditions to launch commercial satellites into low earth polar and sun synchronous orbits.


UK-based space launch manufacturer Orbex has established its HQ and manufacturing base in Forres, Moray on HIE's purpose built business park. Orbex will also be the site operator for Sutherland Spaceport. The business aspires to operate the world’s greenest spaceport, demonstrated by its use of low carbon biopropane as a fuel source.

There are currently four spaceports in the region which are undergoing development to provide launch capability in the coming years. These are:

  • Sutherland Spaceport at the Mhoine, Sutherland
  • Saxa Vord Spaceport, Unst, Shetland Islands
  • Spaceport 1, Scolpaig, North Uist, Western Isles
  • Machrihanish Air Base, Argyll.

Download our Space Scotland proposition

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