Invest in Scotland

China is now among the top five inward investors into Scotland, according to the 2017 EY Scotland Attractiveness Survey. There were 10 major Chinese investors in Scotland in 2016 – twice as many as in 2015 – and new connections continue to strengthen links between our countries. 

The high-profile sale of Skyscanner to Ctrip in 2016 is a good example of Chinese investment in Scotland. China’s largest online travel company bought the Edinburgh-based technology company for £1.4 billion. Skyscanner will remain in Edinburgh and continue to operate independently. 

Scotland’s skills, connections and local supply chains across a range of sectors continue to attract global investors keen to grow their businesses in a cost-effective location. Approaches include direct investment, mergers and acquisitions, research and development partnering, and joint venture business models.

Reasons to locate your business in Scotland

  • Top ranked: For the fifth year running, Scotland was the top ranked UK region for foreign direct investment outside London, as reported in the 2017 EY Scotland Attractiveness Survey. 
  • Excellent track record: Scotland is already home to more than 2,300 foreign firms with a combined turnover of £115 billion. 
  • In good company: Investors in Scotland include China National Offshore Oil Corporation, State Development & Investment Corporation, PetroChina, Red Rock, Bank of China, Ningxia Zhongyin Cashmere Company, Lenovo, Ctrip and Skymoons.
  • Academic collaboration: Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions work with more than 26,000 companies each year, helping to turn R&D into profitable new products. 
  • Workforce and infrastructure: Scotland offers a highly educated, motivated and stable labour force, with low staffing costs. Our infrastructure is excellent and getting even better, with many upgrades in progress and more planned. 
  • Competitive costs: It’s up to 40% more cost-effective to operate a business in Scotland than in other parts of the UK. Registering a company here can take as little as 24 hours.
  • Business friendly: Corporation tax rate is 19% from 2018, dropping to 17% from 2020 and is the joint lowest in the G20, and R&D and new patent tax breaks are available. Scotland is English speaking, with multilingual capabilities.
  • Easy access to market opportunities: We’re globally connected, with strong commercial and transport links to the rest of the UK, Europe and the world.
  • Major tourism destination: In 2015, 14.6 million people visited Scotland. Edinburgh is the most popular UK destination for Chinese visitors after London.
  • Quality of life: With short commutes, vibrant cities, a rich cultural life and the great outdoors always within easy, Scotland offers an enviable quality of life. 

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More than 200 technology-related companies have invested in Scotland since 2012, including CGI, Avaloq and Lockheed Martin. And entrepreneurial Edinburgh secured more investment than any other tech cluster outside of London in 2016.

Scotland’s strong tech cluster now runs to over 1,000 technology sector companies, including other global names such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Outplay Entertainment. Many more businesses based here rely on digital technology support services.

Our tech sector currently employs around 110,000 people – and Scotland’s universities ensure a constant stream of new talent. Twelve institutions offer software-specific courses and more than 10,000 students each year graduate in software and digital disciplines.

Being based in Scotland also lets tech companies connect with the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA) and innovative research facilities, plus UK and global market opportunities.

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Renewable energy opportunities in and around Scotland’s seas are abundant – 25% of Europe’s total offshore wind and tidal resource occurs here.

In 2014, 49% of Scotland’s electricity demand was met by renewable sources. Investing in renewable energy projects can open the door to potential capital contracts worth tens of billions and huge export revenue.

Scotland is home to the largest energy research group in the world as well as superior development and demonstration facilities. Public funds totalling £200 million are available to support renewable energy projects.

Exceptional skills and a proven infrastructure are already in place to maximise output from our renewable energy sites. Scotland also has access to a wide range of energy suppliers able to diversify into the renewables market.

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Every oil and gas market today faces challenging times. But Scotland’s highly respected industry expertise remains in global demand. 

Our oil and gas industry has built a worldwide reputation for excellence from decades of experience and innovation in the inhospitable North Sea environment. Around 45% of the UK’s 375,000 oil and gas workers are based here.

Scottish oil and gas have a global market, and the sector achieved record-breaking exports of £12.2 billion in 2014. Our oil reserves are believed to be the largest in the European Union.

Superb training facilities, an Oil & Gas Innovation Centre and nearly 2,000 supply chain firms support Scotland’s oil and gas businesses. For inward investors, a full range of financial assistance is available.

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More than 600 life sciences businesses are active in Scotland. A thriving biocluster – one of Europe’s largest – provides the ideal environment for innovation and company growth.

Medical technology is the focus of 250 companies, while another 150 offer pharma services. Some 30 companies work on stem cells and regenerative medicine. In total, more than 30,000 people work in life sciences in Scotland. 

BioCity Scotland, Edinburgh BioQuarter and Inverness Campus are among our main life sciences sites. Innovation centres push the boundaries of stratified medicine, sensors, digital health, industrial biotechnology and aquaculture.

Life sciences researchers in our 19 higher education institutions are among the most productive globally in terms of publications and citations. Five of the world’s top 10 contract research organisations have a Scottish presence.

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Bridging the time zones between Asia and the Americas, Scotland is the ideal location for ‘follow-the-sun’ global business services activity. 

Ease of access to key markets isn’t all that our GBS industry has in its favour. Scotland is a major European financial centre, with more than 215,000 people employed in financial and business services. This ensures a ready supply of highly skilled staff for the GBS sector.

Scotland also boasts a wealth of multilingual skills – something that has attracted many GBS centres to set up here already. Whatever language you work in, your business can connect with skilled professionals and leading providers of back-office or in-house functions, right here in Scotland.

Lower overheads and staffing costs in Scotland mean that our GBS centres can offer this supportive business environment at competitive prices.

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Scotland has long been part of the global financial landscape. Today, it’s one of the most important European financial centres outside of London.

The financial services industry in Scotland employs more than 85,400 people – plus a similar number in support companies. It contributes £7 billion annually to the UK’s GDP and is a vital part of Scotland’s economy.

Financial services institutions founded here sit alongside international financial services businesses. BNY Mellon, First State, J.P. Morgan and Barclays Wealth are just some of the big names to have a base in Scotland.

Banking, life assurance and pensions, investment management and asset servicing are particular strengths. Fintech is a growing area of expertise in Scotland and has huge commercial potential. 

Talent is readily available, flexible and scalable, and a strong community of professional advisers and suppliers provides additional support.

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Scotland has a real creative buzz about it. Our creative industries employ around 80,000 people and contribute £3.7 billion annually to the economy.

Our digital media sector is at the forefront of innovation in applications, music, TV, publishing and games. Centres of excellence are springing up to take advantage of a workforce that’s highly skilled in emerging technologies. 

Diverse landscapes and historic cities make Scotland a dream filming location. Recent credits include movie blockbusters Skyfall and World War Z, while epic TV production Outlander was filmed entirely on location here.

Gaming giants Rockstar North and Axis Animation co-exist alongside start-ups such as DeuXality and Krotos. A global audience continues to be entranced by the fantastical worlds created right here in Scotland. 

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Chemicals exports are second only in value to our food and drink exports, bringing in £4.5 billion a year for the Scottish economy.

Global chemical producers benefit from our talented workforce, excellent transport infrastructure and renowned research and development capabilities. FujiFilm, DSM, GlaxoSmithKline, DuPont Teijin Films, Dow and Syngenta all have Scottish operations.  

Scotland’s chemical sciences R&D is consistently ranked in the top three worldwide in terms of productivity and influence. Over the next 10 years, sustainable manufacturing will be at the forefront of chemical sciences in Scotland.

Our universities produce around 1,000 graduates a year with degrees in chemistry or a related subject. EaStCHEM, the UK’s top university chemistry department, is a collaboration by two of Scotland’s leading institutions. 

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Scotland’s long history of engineering expertise has helped to keep Britain’s railways moving and send ships across oceans. Today, our thriving space sector puts satellites in the sky. 

Our enduring strength in advanced engineering spans research and development, design, and manufacturing. High-tech companies continue to set up in Scotland as a result. 

Scotland’s engineers help to maintain the new generation of aircraft and pioneer new ways to make advanced materials. Our space industry employs more than 7,000 highly skilled people, including in satellite manufacture.

With year-on-year growth projected at above 6%, Scotland is intent on growing its role in space into a £4 billion industry by 2030.

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We can help your business to build trade links with Scotland, whatever your industry sector. Impartial advice from our trade advisers can help you to understand business practices in Scotland and make the most of the opportunities and support available here.

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