The number of jobs created by foreign companies investing in Scotland has rebounded from the crash during the worst of the pandemic, according to new figures from Scottish Development International (SDI).

The international trade bureau and its sister agencies supported 113 inward investment projects across the country during the 12 months to March 31, which in turn are expected to preserve or create 7,780 jobs. The figure is based on the number of posts “safeguarded” – where investment prevents work moving elsewhere in the world – together with projections on the number of new jobs to be created in the coming months and years.

Of the 113 projects receiving government support, 39 were by new investors locating in Scotland for the first time. The remainder were investments by foreign companies that already had a presence in the country.

SDI is the international arm of economic development agency Scottish Enterprise. The amount of money invested in SDI-led projects by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise was not disclosed, with a Scottish Enterprise spokesman saying the total figure was not available because some companies consider the value of their investments to be commercially confidential.

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He added that not all projects receive financial backing, with some benefitting from other types of government agency support.

The job numbers for the latest financial year are up 45 per cent on the previous 12 months, when the global recession triggered by the Covid outbreak closed down nearly all travel and suppressed commercial activity in countries around the world. During the 12 months to the end of March 2021, foreign direct investment is estimated to have maintained or created 4,315 jobs in Scotland.

The latest figures are also higher than in the year to March 2020, which was largely untouched by the pandemic, when 6,723 jobs were created or safeguarded.

The latest numbers were announced yesterday morning by Scottish business minister Ivan McKee at the 2022 World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment, which is being held for the first time in Edinburgh.

“Inward investors constitute 3% of Scotland’s businesses, but they are responsible for over a third of employment and around half of turnover,” he said. “They also bring wider spillover benefits to the Scottish economy including strengthening local supply chains, increasing productivity, and building expertise.

“Given the challenges of the past two years, it is encouraging that Scotland has continued its strong performance in attracting foreign direct investment.”

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He added that more than 90% of the projects sit within the nine “opportunity areas” in the Scottish Government’s inward investment plan, which include energy transition, software and IT, the space sector, health technology and digital business services. Of the jobs either protected or created, 98% are said to pay the real living wage with an annual salary of at least £19,305 based on a 37.5 hour working week.

The most predominant sectors for inward investment last year were software and IT, followed by energy transition. An example of the latter was the decision by Dutch-headquartered health and nutrition company Royal DSM to globally manufacture its Bovaer feed additive, which cuts the amount of methane produced by cattle, at its site in Dalry, North Ayrshire.

Other notable announcements included French-owned Valneva’s decision to develop and produce its Covid vaccine at its facility in Livingston.

Scottish Enterprise chief executive Adrian Gillespie described the latest inward investment figures as an “exceptional” endorsement of the commitment to focus on the country’s areas of strength.

“Scotland’s incredible workforce, competitive cost base, world-class universities, supportive business environment, natural resources and unparalleled quality of life is what makes global companies want to locate here,” he said.

“This is supported by a unique ‘Team Scotland’ partnership, which sees the public sector, including Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise, working together with academia and industry to promote the very best Scotland has to offer.”