Scotland's Leading Sectors

Scotland is well-known in a number of sectors for the quality and reliability of its output. 

Key Scottish industries

Financial & business services

Scotland is immensely proud of a successful 300-year history in financial services. Today, our country is of Europe’s 4th largest asset management centres, employing nearly 100,000 people directly. Companies based or headquartered in Scotland include RBS, Standard Life, Aberdeen Asset Management and Aegon.

Renewable energy

Scotland has just 1% of the EU population but 25% of Europe's wind and tidal resources. We already generate nearly 50% of our gross electricity consumption from renewables so it's no wonder Scotland is at the forefront of green energy innovation and committed to the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources.

Life sciences

Scotland is home to one of Europe’s largest life science clusters - more than 650 organisations employing over 35,000 staff - and is an acclaimed leader in research, development and manufacturing. Pioneering scientific breakthroughs include the cloning of Dolly the sheep, the development of MRI scanners and the discovery of p53 cancer suppressor gene.

Higher Education

Our world-class academic sector makes a major economic contribution - our 19 universities create an annual economic impact of £6.7bn. Our higher education institutes work with over 26,000 companies every year to turn R&D into new products. In fact, Scotland scores 5.8 out of 7 for university-industry collaboration in research and development - above OECD countries such as the US, Germany and Japan.

Gas & oil

Scotland is estimated to have the largest oil reserves in the EU and our energy sector is internationally renowned for research and innovation. With 40 years' experience, Scotland has a reputation for expertise and energy education. Scotland's gas and oil sector supports 2,000 supply chain companies, 225,000 jobs and has exports to 100 countries worldwide. The city of Aberdeen is world-renowned as an international gas and oil centre of excellence and is widely regarded as the 'oil capital' of Europe.

Food & Drink

The food and drink sector is of huge importance to the Scottish economy, contributing nearly £14bn worth of turnover annually, with ambitious targets to be reached by 2017. With the worldwide acclaim as the 'Home of Whisky', Scotland exports 40 bottles of whisky overseas every second. Scotland is also one of the largest seafood producers in Europe, exporting Scottish Salmon to over 60 countries.

Sustainable tourism

Tourism makes a significant contribution to Scotland's economic prosperity, employing over 210,000 people and generating almost £6.4bn annually. Scotland's rich culture and heritage is a huge draw for international audiences - Scotland is home to over 350 annual festivals, including the world's biggest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Creative industries

This rapidly growing sector builds on Scotland’s proven track record in digital media innovation and creative enterprise. Supporting more than 57,000 jobs, this industry covers a broad spectrum of businesses including gaming, film, TV, music, architecture, design and the arts. Scotland is home to one of the finest 3D animation studios and best-selling action series Grand Theft Auto.

ICT and electronic technologies

Thanks to 50 years of electronics manufacturing and an enviable academic record in research, Scotland is a world leader in the electronics field. Recently, the industry has reinvented itself as a successful producer of high-end electronic technologies.


Scotland has long been credited with amazing creativity and superb production in the textile industry – and exports to more than 150 countries worldwide. Today, the sector is leading the way in luxury textile fashion and boasts an enviable client list which includes Chanel, Hermès, YSL, as well as BMW, Boeing and Emirates Airlines.