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This strategy was built on Scotland’s established industrial and research base. It identifies key areas where Scotland has a strong business base, as well as powerful academic and commercial research. Within these particular areas of focus, Scotland has the potential to thrive in international growth markets.

The Technology Advisory Group (TAG) will prioritise the issues and opportunities highlighted in this document, and then engage with partners across the private and public sector to develop focused sub-sector action plans.

A Framework for Action (PDF, 689kB)

Sector background

The technology and engineering sector is a key driver of the Scottish economy. Currently, engineering, electronics and information technology businesses employ nearly 150,000 people, contributing over £10 billion a year to Scotland’s economy. That’s almost 10% of national output.

Many Scottish technology and engineering companies have a strong international outlook, exporting around £6.5 billion of products and services to international markets each year, based on a reputation for high quality.

Advanced engineering provides the infrastructure foundation for the success of key sectors such as energy, telecoms, construction and manufacturing where thousands more skilled engineers and technicians are employed. But all businesses in all sectors have an ever increasing reliance on the products and skills of technologists and engineers.

The technology and engineering products and services are in themselves significant drivers of change - continuously evolving in response to new market opportunities and increasing international competition.

In the past, this led to a steady exit from markets that have become commoditised, towards new high-value growth markets and emerging applications. For example, a generation ago, the shipbuilding industry in Scotland downsized to focus on high-value warships and systems integration while many skilled people moved into the booming oil and gas engineering sector.

Today, Scottish engineering expertise in deep-water oil and gas production is being exported globally. Simultaneously, new horizons are opening in offshore renewable energy and low-carbon technologies, building on proven expertise of working in harsh environments.

Many companies continue to develop other profitable businesses - from analogue semi-conductors to precision instruments - where they can attain scale and a globally competitive position.

By focusing on innovation and skills, Scotland can rely on technology and engineering to make a valuable contribution to wealth and employment.

Scotland's capabilities

Scotland’s technology and engineering sector is highly diverse, but positive common themes exist across all the sub-sectors. These include a reputation for:

  • Quality
  • Robust and innovative design
  • Strong capabilities in the delivery and management of each stage of project realisation

Key Scottish capabilities include:

  • Rugged engineering solutions
  • Real world interfaces
  • Data capture
  • Informatics

Global challenges and opportunities

Technology and engineering remains fundamental to the development of the modern world. Under its new ‘Horizon 2020’ innovation programme, the EU has identified six societal challenges that will require technological solutions in the coming years:

  • Secure, clean and efficient energy
  • Efficient use of resources
  • Safe, secure food supply
  • Smart, green transport
  • Longer and healthier lives
  • Inclusive innovation and secure societies

All of these challenges have relevance to the future of the sector in Scotland, but we cannot expect to be leaders in all areas. TAG will seek to identify the most promising opportunities for Scotland and will develop focused opportunity action plans to harness Scotland’s resources in building a sustainable competitive advantage.

Where appropriate, these plans will be linked to the key enabling technologies identified by the EU, which are:

  • Nanotechnology
  • Micro and nanoelectronics
  • Industrial biotechnology
  • Photonics
  • Advanced materials
  • Advanced manufacturing systems

Key challenges to be addressed

The technology and engineering sector faces several challenges that must be addressed to achieve its true growth potential. These include:

  • Talent
  • Brand
  • Internationalisation
  • Supply chain
  • Collaboration
  • R&D investment and commercialisation

A Framework for Action (PDF, 689kB)

Sub-sector action plans

The breadth and diversity of the technology and engineering sector does not lend itself to a one-size-fits-all approach, so this overarching document will be complemented with a portfolio of focused action plans, driven by industry demand and opportunity to:

  • Develop Scotland’s capabilities, meet global challenges and address opportunities
  • Unleash Scotland’s inherent innovation and business potential in technology and engineering

Within three years, this comprehensive portfolio of action plans will be driving the technology and engineering sector towards strong and sustainable growth. All the action plans will be detailed on this website when available.

Digital health and care technology opportunity action plan

Sensor systems opportunity action plan

Data opportunity action plan