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Scotland’s foreign investment outpaces UK and Europe

19 Jun 2023 • 5 minute read

New EY Scotland Attractiveness Survey results prove Scotland's the place to be when it comes to foreign direct investment.

Scotland has outpaced both the UK and Europe by securing a record 126 inward investment projects for the second year in a row, according to EY’s latest Scotland Attractiveness Survey. Find out why the country is the most attractive place in the UK to invest after London.

Scotland secures highest market share in a decade

A record high 19.2% of investors –  the highest figure for any UK location outside London – are planning to establish or expand operations in Scotland.

The strong performance is Scotland’s fourth successive annual increase in FDI projects.

Scotland’s 2022 total represents its highest share of all UK projects in the past decade, at 13.6% (up from 12.3% in 2021, and 11% in 2020).

EY’s results, which cover the calendar year 2022, align with the recent Scottish Development International (SDI) figures that showed more than 8,500 planned real living wage jobs had been generated by inward investment in the financial year 2022/2023, the highest number of planned jobs secured since 2018/2019.

Read about Scottish jobs created by inward investment  

Digital tech remains Scotland's top sector

Scotland’s largest sector in 2022 was the digital tech industry – one of the largest in Europe – and the leader for Scottish FDI in each of the past three years.

Other highlights include:

  • Finance projects which more than doubled in 2022, rising to eight projects compared to just three in 2021
  • The continued manufacturing renaissance, with a joint decade-high 35 projects in 2022 matching last year’s project total
  • The rise in R&D project activity in 2022, with Scotland securing 27 projects – its highest number of R&D investments since 2015, when it recorded 28, and up from 20 in 2021

Why investors are choosing Scotland 

The factors influencing decisions to invest in regions outside London are changing:

  • 23% of investors cited access to grants and incentives
  • 18% said the availability of business partners and suppliers 
  • 17% cited availability and skills of the local workforce and networks

Adrian Gillespie, CEO of Scottish Enterprise, said:

"The findings of EY’s Attractiveness Survey are testament to the dynamic business environment that Scotland offers to investors.

"This includes our enviable skills base, world-class universities, vibrant innovation districts, ambitious entrepreneurial communities, and the outstanding quality of life on offer." 

Read the full EY UK Attractiveness Survey 2023 on opens in a new window  

USA leads as top investor in Scotland 

Four countries accounted for more than 50% of Scotland’s total projects. The most prominent was the United States which has been the leading country of origin for Scotland, the UK and Europe throughout the past decade.

Behind the US, second place among investors in 2022 went to Germany, which was the source for 8% of Scottish projects. Third was Ireland, followed by Canada in fourth place.

Inward investors constitute just 3% of Scotland’s businesses, yet are responsible for:

  • 34% of employment (624,000 jobs)
  • 50% of turnover (£119.6 billion)
  • 63% of business R&D
  • 77% of exports (£24.2 billion)

Source: Scotland's inward investment plan on opens in a new window  

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