How cities are playing key role in economic growth

Glasgow is the top Scottish city and third overall in the UK outside London for attracting capital investment over the last 10 years.
Glasgow is the top Scottish city and third overall in the UK outside London for attracting capital investment over the last 10 years.

The Scottish Cities Alliance is stimulating activity across a range of sectors and is central to helping to attract important global investors

By Clare Ross

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THE SCOTTISH CITIES ALLIANCE, a unique collaboration of Scotland’s seven cities – Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, Stirling – and the Scottish Government, is working to attract investment, stimulate economic activity and create business growth. Scotland’s cities offer huge potential to international investors and the Alliance has great ambitions for Scotland’s city economies which are high quality locations in which to do business.

Spanning the full breadth of sectors from fintech, Private Rented Sector and digital technology to life sciences, creative industries and food and drink, the country’s seven cities have a lot to offer investors. And with a Smart Cities programme that includes all of the seven cities, they are on track to be world-leading digital hubs, embracing new and emerging technologies.

Investment is critical to the ongoing success of the cities and their businesses and the cities are working with the Scottish Government to attract that vital international investment. The Alliance’s online Pitch Book ( showcases £7.5bn of strong investor-ready opportunities in residential, hotel and leisure, office and industrial sectors which are readily accessible to global investors. This selection highlights projects at differing stages of development and timeline and includes investor-ready projects, projects coming through the pipeline and projects at very early stages of development. Working with partners in public and private sector, a further stream of projects will be continuously identified to further the development of the portfolio of propositions to take to markets.

Scotland has long punched above its weight in attracting inward investment and the country’s seven cities are driving this growth. The EY Attractiveness Survey names Scotland the most attractive place in the UK to invest outside London and the quality of the propositions in the Pitch Book clearly highlights why.

To achieve even greater market awareness of the opportunity Scotland’s cities offer global investors, the Alliance is embarking upon a programme of activity to engage with global investors starting with attendance at MIPIM Cannes next month, where you can visit the Scottish Cities Alliance at stand P-1-E20.

Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, said: “Our cities are key drivers of economic growth. Together with their regions, they account for almost 70% of our national output and 60% of our exports and they provide fantastic opportunities for investment.  MIPIM is an ideal opportunity to showcase the scale of opportunity in Scotland and show why Scotland is a great place for investment – the best performing part of the UK outside London in terms of attracting foreign investment.”

Councillor Andrew Burns says Scotland’s Cities are making a significant impact in a very competitive envirnonment
Councillor Andrew Burns says Scotland’s Cities are making a significant impact in a very competitive envirnonment

Councillor Andrew Burns, Chair of the Scottish Cities Alliance, said: “Together Scotland’s cities and their regions have a strong story to tell, and collaboratively we are making a significant impact in a very competitive investor environment which highlights the huge rewards of Scotland’s cities working together.

“The Alliance has brought in more than £150m to the Scottish economy, and we hope to build on this at MIPIM with the Scottish Cities Alliance’s Pitch Book detailing billions of pounds worth of potential investments across the seven Scottish cities.

“Our commitment to working in partnership is cemented by this success and I am sure that, thanks to our ongoing collaboration, Scotland’s cities will continue to be seen as a global investor’s destination of choice.”

Scotland’s Cities offer a diverse choice of opportunities and sectors for investment.


Aberdeen’s economic transformation is continuing in 2017-18, boosted by the announcement of a City Region Deal which will unlock over £800m of investment in the city’s harbour and city centre alongside the creation of the UK’s new £180m Oil and Gas Technology Centre. Several key projects will complete in 2017, including the Marischal Square development, the city’s Art Gallery and the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, which will significantly enhance traffic flows around the city region.

The City Council has recently become the first council in Scotland to secure investment through a stock-market issued Bond, which has raised £370m for investment in the city’s transport, cultural and housing infrastructure, including the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. An Investment Plan for the city is to be launched in the spring of 2017 and this will set out how Aberdeen will showcase its assets in the future. These include high levels of entrepreneurship, two thriving universities with over 30,000 students, high quality of life scores and great access to the rest of the UK and major European hubs.


The city has experienced a rush of private sector investment in the £1bn Dundee Waterfront. Leading UK development and regeneration company, Our Enterprise, which has developed a pioneering ‘social legacy’ business model, is investing £25m to build 91 apartments and create a design and innovation quarter aimed at retaining the city’s graduates. Robertson, a leading construction and infrastructure company is the developer to build flats, premium office space and a hotel on a site adjacent to the new V&A Museum of Design Dundee. Forth Ports is investing £10m in a project that will enable Dundee Port to capitalise on the expansion in renewables and decommissioning work from the North Sea. The different sites can be viewed at


Award winning Edinburgh is The European magazine’s ‘European FDI City of the Year’ 2015/16 and Financial Times fDi Magazine’s ‘Best FDI Global Strategy’ 2016/17 for its robust economic performance and investment promotion reach. Real estate has been underpinned by a resilient economic and business base which has driven rental growth and resulted in multiple major office transactions. Flagship office developments are under construction and have attracted significant pre-lets.

The booming tech sector is a leading source of office demand. Hotel occupancy rates are among the highest in Europe – and the residential and student accommodation sectors are also increasingly attractive to investors. The appeal of a labour pool that includes more than 150,000 graduates and air links to over 100 destinations allows the city to claim the attributes of a global centre while retaining outstanding quality of life and character. This year’s August festival season drew 2,444 artists from 36 nations, attracting an audience of 4.5m and generating over £313m for the Scottish economy.


Glasgow is the business, cultural, sporting and academic heart of Scotland and one of Europe’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities. Widely recognised as the powerhouse of Scotland’s economy, Glasgow’s economic output equates to 32% of GVA, 33% of jobs and 29% of businesses in Scotland. Underpinned by highly competitive property costs, prime rents and prime yields, Glasgow is the top Scottish city and third overall in the UK (outwith London) for attracting capital investment over the last 10 years. Glasgow has one of the most highly skilled and flexible workforces in Europe and to build on this, Glasgow’s new Economic Development Strategy aims to create an additional 50,000 jobs over the next seven years across a range of key growth sectors.

Glasgow will continue to work with private and public sector partners to create the physical environment and infrastructure to facilitate this level of jobs growth building on the biggest City Deal in the UK which will see £1.13bn investment in infrastructure projects that will have a transformation impact on the city region economy.


The city of Inverness and the wider Highland region offers a unique and stunning environment in which to live, work, study and visit and it is a globally recognised tourist destination. UK and Scottish Government funding, together with investment by the council and public partners, will deliver a step change in digital connectivity, digital healthcare, skills, business development and infrastructure in a City-Region Deal which was signed in March 2016. It is estimated that the £315m city-region deal investment will lever up to £1bn of further investment in the economy of the Highlands.

Opportunities for the growth of the region will be greatly enhanced by improved air links with Heathrow and Amsterdam Schipol and a number of major infrastructure projects. Further projects include a new University of the Highlands and Islands School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences on the recently opened Inverness Campus, and Science Skills Academy Hubs in five locations across the Highlands.


Perth is a dynamic city with access to outstanding rural hinterland and, with projected growth of 25% by 2030, is one of the fastest growing in Scotland. The city is at the core of the transport network and is home to the largest campus of the University of the Highlands & Islands and several corporate headquarters, including energy giant SSE.

With significant strengths in food and drink, tourism and clean technology, Perth is primed for significant international investment opportunities, supported by the council’s tailored “open for business” approach. Through its ambitious Perth City Plan linking to the new Tay Cities Deal, an investment of £500m in strategic infrastructure has already started to unlock industrial, logistics, office and housing opportunities.


Situated in the heart of Scotland, with excellent transport links to major cities and rural areas, Stirling is a perfect location for business growth in the UK. With a variety of industrial spaces available and office property sale prices less than quarter that of the national average, Stirling has competitive rates for both new and existing businesses. Thanks to a college with excellent links to local employers and a university renowned for its world-class research, there is also a large trained workforce available in the area. As part of a City Deal project, a Digital District is also being created in the city centre which will attract dynamic digital businesses to the area with a vision to establish Stirling as the UK’s leading coding city.

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