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Agencies hail Scotland’s attractiveness for foreign investment

Published: 19/06/2023

Scotland’s enterprise and skills agencies have hailed the news that the country remains the most attractive location in the UK outside of London for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Vicky Grant, HIE's head of international trade and investment (credit: Gillian Frampton)

Scotland’s enterprise and skills agencies have hailed the news that the country remains the most attractive location in the UK outside of London for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

In EY’s latest Scotland Attractiveness Survey published today (Monday, 19 June), the figures show that a record 126 inward investment projects were secured by Scotland in 2022, a 3.3% increase compared to 2021 when 122 FDI projects were attracted to the country.

This helped Scotland to increase its share of the total inward investment projects attracted by the UK, from 12.3% in 2021 to 13.6% in 2022.

In the Highlands and Islands last financial year, HIE worked with several inward investment projects that created jobs for the region, many in rural areas. They include Orbex in Moray, 1888 Uisge Ltd (Rain Cloud) in the Outer Hebrides and Bute Island Foods in Argyll & Bute.

Vicky Grant, HIE’s head of international trade and investment, said:

“It’s great to see the Highlands and Islands continue to make a huge contribution to Scotland’s overall success and attractiveness for foreign direct investment.  In addition to the outstanding quality of life available here, our region offers expertise across sectors such as space, energy, food and drink and health tech, as well as excellent infrastructure and connectivity.

“As Scotland’s development agency for the region, we work closely with companies looking to invest here. We help them identify the ideal location, find premises, help with recruitment and training, and can often also help financially.  Beyond that, we continue working with them to make sure they have access to the full range of support they need to prosper.”

The figures published by EY also show that amongst investors, Scotland polls as the most attractive location in the UK to invest after London.  A record 19.2% of investors also intend to establish or expand operations in Scotland in future, according to the report.

EY’s results, which cover the calendar year January-December 2022, align with Scottish Development International (SDI) figures announced earlier this month that showed more than 8,500 planned real living wage jobs had been generated by inward investment in FY22/23 (financial year), the highest number of planned jobs secured since FY18/19.

Adrian Gillespie, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said:

“These results are a terrific signal of Scotland’s continued success at attracting FDI.

“The findings of EY’s Attractiveness Survey are testament to the dynamic business environment that Scotland offers to investors, including our enviable skills base, world-class universities, vibrant innovation districts, ambitious entrepreneurial communities, and the outstanding quality of life on offer.

“EY’s Attractiveness Survey follows hot on the heels of our own results that showed more than 8,500 planned jobs had been secured over the past financial year through inward investment projects supported by Scotland’s enterprise and skills agencies., the highest figures since 2018/19.

“For Scotland to once again be the most attractive location in the UK outside of London for FDI projects is a fantastic achievement that will further enhance our growing global reputation.  As an internationally focused innovation and investment agency, Scottish Enterprise and our global SDI colleagues will continue to work with our Team Scotland partners to promote the very best our country has to offer to international companies and investors.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive of South of Scotland Enterprise, said:

“These survey results are another positive indicator that Scotland is a hugely attractive country to invest in.

“Together with our Team Scotland partners, we are committed to ensuring we build on these results, for the benefit of Scotland, and the South of Scotland.

“We aim to do this by using our strengths to continue to promote our country in a way that allows us to highlight our natural economy, create more sustainable jobs, contribute to the wellbeing of our local economies, environment and communities, and, ultimately, attract even more appropriate investment.”

Marion Beattie, Head of Skills Growth and Inward Investment at Skills Development Scotland (SDS), added: “A skills and learning system that’s based on the latest intelligence, and is flexible and responsive to the needs of employers is one of the key factors for businesses making investment decisions.

“That’s why SDS is committed to working as part of Team Scotland to provide comprehensive and co-ordinated support to potential inward investors, from the earliest stages onwards, so we can continue to build on our strong track record.”