Scotland’s tech and software sectors are attracting foreign investment, especially from the US – and it’s easy to see why.
Scotland attracted more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects in 2016 than ever before, with 122 FDI projects according to the EY Scotland Attractiveness Survey.
The 2016 figures mean that Scotland is the UK’s second biggest area for FDI projects after London for the fifth year running.
Significant investment in software
Scotland is now second behind London in securing investments from the software industry. We're also emerging as the UK's R&D leader, attracting more projects than any other UK region in 2016, with software and life sciences as the main sectors.
Companies are attracted to invest by Scotland’s global reputation in gaming and software development, and the stream of highly-qualified, work-ready graduates produced by our 19 universities.
With bases in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland certainly works as a location for Canadian IT services giant CGI.
Maggi Morrison, head of the company’s public sector services division in Scotland, says: “This is an extremely exciting time to part of CGI in Scotland, because we are growing in a number of different locations.
"The support from Scottish Development International has been spectacular and continuous. Our Scottish Enterprise account manager is totally invaluable. If there’s anything that I need, like help with connections to an innovation centre, the Digital Health Institute, or government ministers, I just have to lift the phone.
"We’ve been able to prove there’s real business opportunity in Scotland.
"All our overseas employees comment on the quality of life in Scotland – they love it here. The quick and easy access to beautiful countryside, and the wide variety of cultural events on offer in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, make Scotland an attractive place to live and work.”
Right place, right skills
When US technology giant Hewlett Packard was looking to expand its UK Enterprise Services operation, Scotland was the logical choice for easy access to skills and resources.
Chris Gough, their head of transformations and operations for the UK and Ireland, says: “We’ve had a base at Erskine in Scotland for 25 years, but it was being under-utilised. When we had a resourcing problem in the south of England - we couldn’t get the staff we needed to deliver for our clients - we worked with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) to find out what resources would be available
“Working with Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise, we put together a business case for locating here. The real decision for us was, were the skills available and could we bring on the people we needed?
"Working with SDS, we’ve grown our enterprise services workforce in Scotland. We’ve now created a core, critical mass of skilled people.”
Skills availability was also key for computer security company Corero, which relocated its engineering centre from Boston, Massachusetts to Edinburgh.
"Our Edinburgh centre has better access to and retention of skilled recruits at 30% lower cost per head than in Boston," says Corero president Andrew Lloyd.
Connect to Scotland's technology skills
North America is a star investor
In the past 10 years, a total of 771 FDI projects have set up in Scotland. Much of this investment has come from the US – in 2016, 35% of all projects into Scotland were from the US.
One recent US-based FDI project came from Xilinx, which invested £4.9 million in its Edinburgh R&D centre to develop wireless technologies. This will create 12 new jobs and protect 30 existing jobs.
Dr Colin Carruthers, director of Xilinx Scotland, says:
“Scotland has a long history of invention and innovation, and it is a privilege to be able to help architect the communication platforms of the future."
Connected and committed
It was Scotland’s global connections and high quality skills base that made it the perfect location for US financial giant JP Morgan, which expanded its technology operations in Glasgow in 2015.
Managing director Steven Flaherty says: “The primary reason we decided to open a Scottish base, well above the convenience of time zones, is talent. In Glasgow, we can tap into talent from the universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde, the West of Scotland and Edinburgh, amongst others. More recently, we’ve benefitted from a lot of European talent as well.
“The support that we’ve had from the government and Scottish Enterprise has been very, very, strong, from when we set up here to this day. Scottish Enterprise has made great progress in improving talent pipelines through support networks, both across Scotland and in Glasgow."
Is it time you joined us?
If you invest in Scotland, you’ll be in good company. Global companies like CGI, Amazon, Hewlett Packard and Outplay have chosen to come here because they believe that Scotland has everything that you need to succeed in the tech industry.
Inward investors benefit from operating costs which can be up to 40% lower than other UK locations and a business-friendly environment, complete with an enviable lifestyle.
We also offer a highly-skilled and educated workforce, proximity to massive European markets, innovative R&D, sophisticated infrastructure, and easy connections to the rest of the world - so what are you waiting for?
Get in touch