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Cta Man

The Highlands and Islands Digital Economy

Thriving locally, connecting globally.

The Highlands and Islands economy is increasingly a digital economy. A fast-growing regional economy powered by data-driven connections between individuals, organisations and systems which are transforming how we live, work and play.

From artificial intelligence and remote working software to cloud computing and data analytics, businesses and organisations across the Highlands and Islands are using digital technologies to reach new and existing customers, work more efficiently, and seek out new opportunities.

Our £146m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project delivered super-fast broadband access to more than eight out of ten homes and businesses in over 290 communities across the region. With direct fibre optic cable connections, over 3,500 premises across the Highlands and Islands can access speeds of up to 1Gbps.

HIE and its partners offer a wide variety of support, advice and funding opportunities to businesses looking to capitalise on the huge opportunities afforded by the digital economy.

On this page, you’ll find out more about the region’s digital economy, the support available to organisations and how digital technologies are already transforming the Highlands and Islands.

Get in touch

For more information, email the team

Building a thriving digital ecosystem

HIE is a member of ScotlandIS, the national trade body for the digital technologies industry. Already the fourth strongest export sector in the country, the opportunities for the region in the future are huge.

Learn more about ScotlandIS

For ambitious digital technology companies looking to relocate here, the Highlands and Islands is increasingly recognised as a hub for digital, life sciences and advanced engineering operations. Our workforce contains a higher than the national average proportion of employees in medium and high-skilled occupations and with nine airports linking direct to cities across the UK and Europe, daytime and sleeper rail services, ferries and a network of major trunk roads, you have all the logistics infrastructure you need in the midst of a spectacular landscape.

Working with our digital partners

We're involved in the CyberScotland partnership, working with stakeholders to improve cyber resilience in the Highlands and Islands.

Learn more about CyberScotland

Working with Skills Development Scotland and other partners, we're also supporting the implementation of the Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s ICT and Digital Technologies Sector.

Learn more about the Skills Investment Plan

And we have long supported digital innovation, notably with our investments in the Data Lab Innovation Centre and the CENSIS Innovation Centre.

Learn more about the Data Lab Innovation Centre

Learn more about the CENSIS Innovation Centre


Support for the digital economy

HIE can provide your business with one-to-one advice from our digital specialists, helping you identify and capitalise on opportunities within the digital economy.

Whether you’d like help to review your existing systems, develop a digital strategy or create a step-by-step action, your HIE account manager can put you in touch with the support services you need. For more information, contact us at 

If you’re looking to develop digital tools within your business to improve how you interact with and serve your customers, why not get in touch with our XpoNorth Digital team. Delivered through the Northern Innovation Hub, this programme connects you with sector specialist experienced in your field and also provides access to workshops, specialist seminars and one to one support.

Learn more about XpoNorth Digital

We work closely with a range of partners across the public, private, voluntary and academic sectors to help you access tailored support. 

Skills Development Scotland can help business identify and address skills gaps within the workforce to support business growth.

Learn more about Our Skillsforce from Skills Development Scotland

Business Gateway’s Digital Boost programme offers a wide range of informative resources as well as online tutorials, access to consultant support and funding to help businesses do more with digital. The Digital Boost health check is a five minute survey designed to identify your strengths and weaknesses to assist in setting goals for your digital strategy.

Learn more about DigitalBoost

Organisations in Scotland’s voluntary sector can access advice on how to develop digital skills, deliver services digitally and prioritise inclusion in the design of digital projects, as well as accessing one to one support and undergoing a digital health check.

Learn more about the digital advice available from SCVO

Read more +
Digital Tourism

The bigger digital picture


Scotland's digital sector contributes around £7.5bn to Scotland’s GVA


digital technology jobs are created every year in Scotland


of businesses enjoy productivity benefits as a result of digital technologies

Top 3

Adopting new digital technology is one of the top 3 priorities for businesses

South Whiteness community Shetland

South Whiteness Fibre

Shetland community tops region for full fibre broadband take-up

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The tiny island packing an ultrafast social and economic punch

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Digital Enablement Grant allows Orkney jeweller to develop dedicated website for trade customers.

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An Lanntair building in Stornoway

An Lanntair

Stornoway arts venue transforms its operations while connecting local makers to global markets.

View case study

Man in PPE standing beside stacks of cut wood at Russwood, Newtonmore

Russwood Ltd

HIE helps Russwood develop its business through data driven decisions

View case study


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