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Scotland's digital economy facts

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Digital economy in Scotland

Latest stats and facts on Scotland's digital economy. Published February 2021.

Industry profile

Scotland's digital economy from a supply side perspective, includes companies creating, often novel, digital products and services which includes software, information technology and data.

The sector includes successful businesses originally grown in Scotland which have attracted international capital, like Skyscanner, Incremental and Craneware, as well as major foreign direct investments, such as Amazon, JPMorgan, Avaloq and Spire.

The sector is active across Scotland but Edinburgh is the “Digital Capital” with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics ranking among the best in the world and fostering a dynamic start-up scene attracting global venture capital.

Given Scotland’s established capabilities, there is a strong focus on addressing growing opportunities in sensor systems and data analytics, while related areas such as “mobility as a service” and fintech also present exciting opportunities.

Kate Forbes, Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, visits Natantis at Heriot Watt University

Scottish digital economy stats

11,210 companies

6.2% of Scotland's total companies (2020)

100,000 employment

3.8% of Scotland's total employment (2019)

£6.5bn GVA

4.6% of Scotland's GVA (2018)

£3.5bn exports

10.4% of Scotland's total international exports (2018)

£427m R&D

30.4% of Scotland's BERD (2019)

Person wearing VR smartphone headset inside a room - Photo by stephan sorkin on Unsplash

Opportunities for innovation

Cyber security is one of the fastest growing new areas, with university spinouts like ZoneFox taking innovation to global markets.

The sector is supported by innovation centres and centres of excellence including:

The development of the sector is championed through the cluster
management organisations Scotland IS and Technology Scotland.

Company insight

Digital economy* companies surveyed between August and December 2020
Biggest challenges
  • 78% impact of Covid-19
  • 22% retaining and recruiting staff
Biggest opportunities
  • 50% developing new products/services
  • 28% maximising existing clients and markets

*using creative industries as closest available reported proxy

SAS staff at work in their Glasgow offices.

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