SCOTLAND leads the UK in foreign direct investment (FDI) across its geographical spread.

Accounting firm EY said Scotland attracted the highest number of projects to small towns, communities and villages compared to the rest of the country and its geographic balance of investment “demonstrates an inclusive growth agenda”.

According to EY’s Attractiveness Survey Trends in FDI in the UK’s Towns report, published today, Scotland has managed to achieve a balance in FDI across all of the main place types, and its make-up is a “more evolved split”.

Glasgow and Edinburgh account for around two fifths of all 1,473 FDI projects attracted to Scotland in the past two decades.

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However, in the same period, Scotland has managed to attract the highest number of projects across communities, with 198 in large towns, 330 in medium towns, 184 in small towns, 91 in communities and 112 villages.

Manufacturing, research and development, and sales and marketing top the list with sector investment in every geographic category.

Ally Scott, EY managing partner for Scotland, said: “Our strong food and drink sector, stretching from the Highlands to the Borders, lends itself perfectly to attract manufacturing projects to some of our most rural communities - in fact, the figures show that Scotland’s ‘medium towns’ have attracted nearly 150 manufacturing projects over the last two decades.”

Charlie Smith, of Scottish Enterprise, said it would “continue to work with partners to focus on future economic opportunities”.