SCOTLAND bucked the broader UK and European trends by winning more foreign direct investment projects last year than in 2019, in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, a key survey reveals.

And Scotland’s attractiveness as a destination for overseas investment within the UK has risen to its highest-ever level, the EY survey shows. The accountancy firm’s 2021 attractiveness survey reveals Scotland secured 107 FDI projects last year, up 6% from 101 in 2019.

In contrast, the number of FDI projects won by the UK as a whole fell by 12%, from 1,109 to 975. And FDI projects won across Europe fell by 13%, from 6,412 to 5,578. EY noted the rise in FDI projects into Scotland “within a shrinking UK marketplace” saw the nation’s share of all UK projects increase from 9.1% in 2019 to 11% in 2020. The firm said this proportion had been exceeded only once in the past decade, in 2015. Scotland has been the UK location with the second-highest number of overseas-backed projects – after London – in every year since 2014.

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The number of new projects in Scotland, as opposed to reinvestments, bounced back in 2020 to its highest in five years, totalling 61, after three straight years of decline.

EY noted this performance had ensured Scotland increased its share of all new projects coming into the UK from 5.9% in 2019 to 8.4% in 2020. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen were all ranked in the UK’s top ten cities for FDI projects outside London, with Edinburgh placed first. Digital technology and agri-food were the main sources of FDI projects won by Scotland in 2020.

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Around 15% of investors surveyed by EY said Scotland was the most attractive part of the UK in which to invest – up from 7% in 2019. In a UK context, this was behind only London, rated by 25% as most attractive.