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EY Scotland

Attractiveness survey 2016

Scotland achieves best inward investment performance on record

Scotland achieved record-breaking levels of inward investment in 2015, with an all-time high for the number of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects.

A total of 119 projects were secured last year – a significant 51% increase on the previous year, and more than double the UK’s 20% increase.

Scotland surged past the South East in the overall UK regional league table to claim second place behind London.

  • In 2015 Scotland achieved a record 119 FDI projects
  • At 11% its share of all UK FDI projects is at a ten year high
  • Scotland’s growth rate (51%) outpaced the UK’s (20%)
  • Employment from FDI in Scotland is up 52%
  • Software was the top performing sector, with 19 projects and a 170% increase.

Total number of projects secured by UK regions over the past 10 years

EY - Total number of projects secured by UK regions over the past 10 years

Source: EY's Global Investment Monitor 2016

Mark Harvey, EY Senior Partner, Scotland, said:
“Scotland had a truly spectacular year for FDI in 2015, making some significant strides in key areas, resulting in a major step change in performance.

“Importantly, the majority of FDI projects for Scotland in 2015 were new rather than expansions. This ability to attract a higher proportion of new, first-time investors signals a positive future for Scotland.

EY - Mark Harvey

Mark Harvey
EY Senior Partner
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EY Scotland Attractiveness Survey 2016

Scotland Attractiveness survey
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EY Financial Services Attractiveness Survey 2016

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Boost in FDI employment

Scotland’s impressive 2015 record attracting inward investment was also reflected by a considerable increase (52%) in the number of jobs FDI created: 5,385 were secured in 2015, the second highest figure for the decade behind 2011’s 5,926.

In 2015 Scotland had a 12.7% market share of overall UK FDI employment, slightly below the ten year average of 14.3%.

Software sector surges

The stand-out performance by sector came from software, which was responsible for the greatest number of FDI projects (19) – a 170% increase on the previous year.

This growth was only bettered by two sectors: business services saw a six-fold increase to 12, and utility supply achieved 10 projects – a five-fold increase.

Strong performances in increasing inward investment for sectors led to a jobs boost, with business services responsible for the largest growth in employment, followed by software, food, and scientific research.

Scottish cities hold their own against UK counterparts

Scotland’s three most successful cities for inward investment appear in the UK top ten, with two inside the top five. Edinburgh landed the third spot behind London in first and Manchester in second, while Glasgow reached fifth, and Aberdeen was in joint tenth position with Bristol and Cambridge.

In 2015, Edinburgh saw almost a three-fold increase in FDI projects (41) while Glasgow’s figure more than doubled in comparison to 2014 to 22, and Aberdeen saw nine, down from 12 the previous year.

Change to the make-up of Scotland’s top investors

The US continues to be Scotland’s primary investor, but China and India are not in the top five, while Norway and Canada are. In fact, neither China nor India are even in the top ten, despite being the third and fifth biggest sources of investment respectively for the UK as a whole.

The UK picture

The UK saw a 20% growth in projects, with 1,065 attracted last year, the largest number since the survey began in 2006. The UK took a 20.9% share of the 5,083 projects locating in Europe.

Over 90% of the UK’s total growth came from the regions outside London and the South East. The North West led the way out of 12 UK regions, with a 118% increase in projects contributing to a 127% growth in FDI across the Northern Powerhouse since the term was coined two years ago.

Only three regions saw a decline in projects during the year – the South East (22% fall), Northern Ireland (62% fall) and Wales (2% fall).


jobs FDI created in Scotland in 2015