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The 2018 EY Scotland Attractiveness Survey presents a healthy picture of Scotland’s business infrastructure, as more foreign firms look to invest and establish a business home away from home here.

Forth rail bridge

In 2017, Scotland saw a 7% rise in foreign direct investment projects, making it the top performing location in the UK, outside London. 

Our research and development position also goes from strength to strength, with Scotland securing 24% of all R&D projects coming into the UK. A massive 70% year-on-year increase, which means we retain our number one position, ahead of London.

Commenting on the survey, Paul Lewis, Managing Director of Scottish Development International, said: “This survey illustrates that Scotland is now firmly established as a location of choice for global investors. To be the number one UK location for R&D investment and the number one UK FDI location behind London generally is a tremendous achievement."

Read the EY Scotland Attractiveness Survey 2018

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Great news for Scottish businesses

The digital and manufacturing industries proved particularly strong areas for FDI investment. Digital FDI projects increased by 56%, while manufacturing FDI investment increased by 25%. Scotland’s business services sector has also grown, compared to the rest of the UK.

“In recent years, our inward investment activity has become more focussed, targeting our resources on those areas of opportunity and companies where we see more likelihood of success, and it’s great to see that these efforts have paid off and we’re starting to make inroads in areas like digital and high value R&D projects, and increasing investments from markets like China,” said Paul Lewis.

Scotland a growing HQ capital

The number of HQs in Scotland is the highest for a decade while the UK, as a whole is showing a decline. In terms of FDI projects secured, Scotland has three cities represented in the UK top 10, with Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen featuring in third, sixth and eight place respectively.

"Competition for inward investment continues to be fierce. Scotland has had to deliver three consecutive record years to retain this ranking, and we can't rest on our laurels. The economic return to Scotland from FDI is considerable, so we must continue to build on the international reach and connections that exist across many parts of our economy, to attract even more new inward investment to the country," said Paul Lewis.

This survey illustrates that Scotland is now firmly established as a location of choice for global investors. To be the number one UK location for R&D investment and the number one UK FDI location behind London generally is a tremendous achievement.

Paul Lewis, Scottish Development International

Why Scotland is Now

Scotland’s business confidence and supporting infrastructure is proving a draw for investors across the globe.

The top five countries investing in Scotland in 2017 were the US, with 36 projects, Norway, with 10 projects, France, with 9 projects, Ireland, with 7 projects, and China, with 6 projects.  

Investors cite the availability and skills of our workforce, of business partners and suppliers, combined with transport and technological infrastructure as key assets which greatly influence their decision to invest here.

“Now is the time for a collaborative approach to accelerate international growth, and the new global brand campaign Scotland is Now has been a significant development for us; representing a confident, consistent and bold approach to build a positive and meaningful story and brand for Scotland,” said Paul Lewis.

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