Sectoral opportunities in Scotland’s cities

Aerospace and Space

Scotland has built an internationally-recognised space industry with 80 aerospace companies such as Clyde Space. With year on year growth projected above 6%, Scotland has the ambition to grow its role in space from a £2 billion industry today to a £4 billion one by 2030. The sector employs more than 7600 highly-skilled people and continues to grow with the first spaceport in Europe to be built in Sutherland offering a dedicated vertical rocket launch site.


Scotland is home to some of the largest European companies such as Concentrix, Cigna, Ceridian, Teleperformance and Sykes. All were drawn here by the right mix of talent, quality infrastructure and support. With over 215,000 people working in financial and business services, supplemented by over 97,000 graduates a year, Scotland offers high quality, flexible staff with skills covering a range of front and back office activities.

Creative Industries

Scotland’s creative industries employ nearly 80,000 people, adding £3.7 billion to the Scottish economy each year and with the expansion of training facilities, there is a huge pool of skilled talent and new graduates joining the industry. The digital media sector is at the forefront of innovation in applications, music, TV, publishing and games, and we have centres of excellence springing up around the country. Scotland’s landscape is featured in international blockbusters such as Skyfall and World War Z and home to global phenomenon game creators like Rockstar North and Axis Animation.

Industrial and manufacturing

Demand in the industrial property market has been strengthening since 2012. In 2016, cash terms GVA in the manufacturing sector amounted to £12.7 billion, up 5% on the previous year. Rents continue to rise and the development market is responding with a number of active projects. Units below 929sq.m. are in particularly strong demand and larger units (4,645 sq.m +) are becoming more active with lettings progressing on a good proportion of what remains of the limited larger industrial stock available. (Source: Ryden)

Life sciences and biotech

Over 700 life sciences organisations employ more than 37,000 people, making Scotland one of the largest life sciences clusters in Europe. Scotland is home to a thriving biocluster, providing the ideal environment for innovation and company growth with key sites including Edinburgh BioQuarter, Inverness Campus and BioDundee. There are also innovation centres covering: stratified medicine, sensors, digital health, industrial biotechnology and aquaculture. Scotland’s unified healthcare provider, the NHS, works closely with industry and academia, supported by the dedicated cross-party organisation, LISAB. The NHS provides co-ordinated access to clinical investigators and patients through single point of contact for industry, accessible clinical research support infrastructures, and streamlined and timely clinical trial approvals.

Renewable energy

Scotland’s extensive renewable energy resources offer huge opportunities: investing in Scotland means access to potential capital contracts worth tens of billions and huge export revenue. With renewable energy sites close to Enterprise Areas and deepwater ports, manufacturing bases are ideally located to serve the Scottish, UK, European and global markets. Scotland’s energy experience is globally recognised with decades of experience in the oil and gas industry. By investing in Scotland’s renewable energy industry there’s access to highly qualified staff and a wide range of proven suppliers with the ability to diversify into the renewables market.


Edinburgh: Granton Waterfront
Perth: Perth West


Dundee: Low Carbon and Net Zero Ambition

Retail & leisure

Total sales in Scotland increased by 0.8% in March 2018, in comparison to the previous year. Food retailers in particular have had healthy growth with demand for expansion of chains such as Starbucks, Tim Hortons and Pret a Manger both for standard shops and drive-through. High Streets and shopping centres continue to seek alternative, non-retail occupiers to fill vacant units. Leisure, health and fitness, cinema and bar/restaurant uses are becoming widespread targets across many former shopping locations. (Source: Ryden)

Tourism and hospitality

Tourism is an important component of the Scottish economy supporting business activity and employment across Scotland. There are over 14,000 tourism and hospitality businesses. The combined impacts of a Sterling currency value proposition, an anticipated increase in international tourist arrivals to the UK, and the improvement in sales distribution channels online has undoubtedly helped extend the appeal of the Scottish commercial accommodation supply. (Source: VisitScotland)

Urban Residential

Scotland’s residential market is at its strongest condition since 2008. The total of residential transactions during the year ending June 2018 was 100,537, with the number of transactions above £250,000 increasing to a record high of 19,259. The average transaction price from June 2017 – June 2018 has also risen 5% from the previous year to £176,548. This market has been assisted by low mortgage and taxation rates, along with Government initiatives such as Help to Buy. (Source: Savills Scotland Residential Property Market 2018)


For information on opportunities in the cities please contact:

Lauren Pascu, Scottish Cities Alliance

For further information on Scotland’s sectors contact:

Scottish Development International
T: +44 (0) 300 013 2734

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