Scotland has endured a deeper recession than the rest of the UK, with unemployment spreading beyond the traditional deprived areas and sectors. From bankers in Edinburgh to whisky workers in Kilmarnock, Scots have been losing jobs at twice the rate of the English, but upticks in house prices, tourism and inward investment suggest that recovery may be on the way.
Scotland has a long history of engineering and is home to more than 170 aerospace and defence companies, employing some 16,000. It has about 30% of the UK's output in shipbuilding, and naval shipbuilding activity has increased significantly on MoD and export orders. Glasgow is a leading centre for commercial ship management. The chemical sciences sector has a turnover close to £9.3bn, supporting about 70,000 jobs, while the financial services industry, centred in Edinburgh, contributes £7bn or so to Scottish GDP. Scotland is home to the second-largest life-science cluster in the UK, while a new £25m Advanced Forming Research Centre at Inchinnan, near Glasgow Airport, will help to develop technologies for the aerospace, energy and car industries. The centre will work with some of the world's biggest engineering companies, including Boeing and Rolls-Royce.
The Scottish Parliament has control over most elements of transport policy within the country. Transport Scotland is helping to deliver a £3bn capital investment programme over the next decade, overseeing trunk roads and rail networks. Only 29% of the rail network in Scotland is electrified, compared to 40% across Britain as a whole. However, an Edinburgh Tram Network should enter operation in 2011, and a new Forth crossing is planned by 2016 at a cost of £1.7bn to £2.3bn. A controversial extension to the M74 motorway through the southside of Glasgow is also due for completion by 2011. Scotland has four international airports with scheduled services, operating to Europe, North America and Asia, as well as England and Wales.
The Scottish education system has always remained distinct, with a greater emphasis on a broad education. Scotland has 14 universities, several of them rated among the best in the UK, five specialist higher-education institutions and 43 further-education colleges. A recent Edinburgh University study showed that, in terms of value, the top eight Scottish universities outperformed their Ivy League counterparts: for every $150m of sponsored research, US universities produced 33 patents, whereas the Scottish produced 51.
Selex, Thales, Raytheon, BAE Systems, GE, Goodrich, Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, Ineos, BASF, GlaxoSmithKline, Syngenta, Johnson & Johnson, Wyeth, Schering-Plough, Millipore, ClinTec.
Quality of life
Scotland rates highly in terms of quality and affordability of housing and public services, while crime and congestion are low. Average price of a house is 23% below the UK mean, and public spending per head is 20% higher than the rest of the UK, sustaining good education, health and transport standards. Glasgow has been rated in the top 10 world cities by travel guide Lonely Planet, and Edinburgh hosts the largest annual arts festival in the world. Scotland, the home of golf, is now an adventure-sports destination for mountain biking, whitewater rafting, snowboarding and paragliding.
Office rents: Edinburgh, £29 per sq ft, Glasgow, £28.50; industrial rents: Edinburgh £7 per sq ft, Glasgow £6; land costs: Edinburgh £210,000 per acre, Aberdeen £100,000.
If your innovation represents a significant technological advance in your industry sector, you may qualify for a Scottish Government 'SMART: SCOTLAND' grant, available to SMEs with fewer than 250 employees, an annual turnover of less than EUR50m or balance sheet total of less than EUR43m p.a.
Pacific Quay in Glasgow, on the Clyde, linked to the city centre via new Arc bridge and already home to BBC Scotland, SMG and Xfm Scotland; Maxim, 10 mins east of Glasgow on the M8, with 10 office buildings totalling 756,000 sq ft, the biggest speculatively built office park scheme in the UK; Ratho Park, a 22,000 sq ft eco-office complex at Newburn Interchange, 10 minutes from Edinburgh Airport.
Scotland produces 1% of the world's published research, despite having fewer than 0.1% of the world's population.
Scottish Enterprise - 0141 248 2700; www.scottish-enterprise.com
Scottish Development International - 141 228 2828; www.sdi.co.uk
Innovators Counselling and Advisory Service for Scotland - 0845 6011718; www.icass.co.uk.