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Scotland's digital economy facts

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Digital economy in Scotland

Latest stats and facts on Scotland's digital economy. Published February 2020.

Industry profile

Scotland's digital economy includes software, information technology, digital communications, digital media, electronics, sensors and photonics.

The sector includes successful businesses originally grown in Scotland which have attracted international capital like Skyscanner, FanDuel and Leidos as well as major foreign direct investments, such as Hewlett Packard, Fujitsu and IBM.

The sector is active across Scotland but Edinburgh is the “Digital Capital” with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics ranking among the best in the world and fostering a dynamic start-up scene attracting global venture capital.

Given Scotland’s established capabilities, there is a strong focus on addressing growing opportunities in sensor systems and data analytics, while related areas such as “mobility as a service” and fintech also present exciting opportunities.

Kate Forbes, Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, visits Natantis at Heriot Watt University

Scottish digital economy stats

11,240 companies

6.3% of Scotland's total companies (2019)

97,000 employment

3.7% of Scotland's total employment (2018)

£6.6bn GVA

4.7% of Scotland's GVA (2017)

£3.5bn exports

10.4% of Scotland's total international exports (2018)

£388m R&D

31.1% of Scotland's BERD (2017)

Person wearing VR smartphone headset inside a room - Photo by stephan sorkin on Unsplash

Opportunities for innovation

Gaming (e.g. Rockstar North, Outplay Entertainment) and analogue semiconductors (e.g. Cirrus Logic, ST Microelectronics) are well-established niches, while cyber security is one of the fastest growing new areas, with university spin-outs like ZoneFox taking innovation to global markets.

The sector is supported by Innovation Centres including:

The development of the sector is championed through the cluster
management organisations Scotland IS and Technology Scotland.

Company insight

Digital economy* companies surveyed between July and December 2019
Performance last 6 months
  • 50% reported increased turnover
  • 45% reported improved profitability
Expectations next 6 months
  • 56% expect to grow exports
  • 62% expect to add staff

*using creative industries as closest available reported proxy

SAS staff at work in their Glasgow offices.

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