What makes Scotland so attractive to international investors? It’s a question we ask all the time and the feedback we get is always consistent.
The majority of companies tell us the quality of Scotland’s workforce is a major factor in their decision to locate here. That’s closely followed – if not matched – by our well-deserved international reputation for education, research, innovation, engineering – the list goes on.
We can reel off facts and figures about the number of foreign direct investment projects in Scotland (76 in 2012); Scottish jobs created through FDI (around 5,000 last year) and our ranking in terms of attractiveness to foreign investors (currently second only to London). But it’s when we stop to look at a cross-section of recent investments that we really get a picture of how well we’re doing.
Take this month, for example. We’re not even half way through, and we’ve already been able to highlight four international investment projects that between them will bring up to 1,500 new jobs into the country and support the growth of Scotland’s key sectors.
First, the French-based multi-channel customer services company Teleperformance announced it would be adding up to 1,000 jobs to its Scottish workforce across four locations – Airdrie, Erskine, Glasgow and Kilmarnock.
The same day saw one of Japan’s leading research investment companies, Riken Innovation Capital (RIC), sign a groundbreaking new partnership with one of the country’s leading research investment companies. RIC will become one of our key global investment partners, helping to support some of Scotland’s most promising life sciences and green technologies firms via a fund which aims to be worth $50m by the end of this year.
A week later, Canadian business process services firm CGI announced it will hire up to 250 professionals in Glasgow, almost doubling its Scottish workforce; and the following day direct marketing specialist Aquira, based in Shrewsbury, announced it was extending its Scottish base with a further 220 jobs.
The statements made by these companies just go to show how highly Scotland is regarded by international businesses:
Teleperformance UK, Ireland and South Africa CEO Alistair Niederer said the company’s decision to grow its Scottish operations were in part thanks to our ‘highly skilled and quality workforce’.
RIC President Kenji Okuma credited our ‘attractive environment for research and clinical studies’ and ‘sophisticated system of support for leading-edge technology companies’.
CGI UK President Tim Gregory also credited the ‘talent pool’ and acknowledged the importance of the support we’re offering through regional selective assistance (RSA) funding.
And Aquira’s CEO Mark Walton also praised the quality of our workforce and our worldwide reputation for business excellence.
What is particularly pleasing is that both CGI and Aquira already had operations in Scotland and their latest investment demonstrates the value they have already seen in having a base here.
In fact, just under 50% of all inward investment projects last year were follow-on investments and this is part of our overall efforts to build strategic relationships with both local management teams and their corporate headquarters overseas to ensure they understand Scotland’s proposition and how we can add value to their global operations.
There’s no question that funding support is one of the key tools we have in helping to attract inward investment to Scotland. But it’s by no means the only – or even the most important – one. Scotland offers many incentives over and above financial support, and it’s clear from what our inward investors are telling us that those are the reasons we remain one of the most successful countries in Europe for attracting FDI.