With superb natural resources, modern fabrication and port facilities, and transferable skills from the oil and gas industry, the Highlands and Islands is bidding to be a world centre for renewable energy.

The region's strong legacy in the oil and gas industry, and abundance of renewable energy resources, mean it is ideally placed to be at the forefront of the energy industry.

Here you can find out about ground-breaking work many local companies are involved in, from research and development to full-scale test facilities. It's also where you'll find the latest news and analysis from the energy sector plus full coverage of the markets we work in.

Life sciences

The life sciences sector in the Highlands and Islands predominantly consists of small enterprises, working in human and animal health, marine biotechnology, natural products, chemical and pharmaceutical sciences and digital technology. The region has particular strengths and opportunities in digital health and wellbeing, and marine biotechnology.

In addition to the more traditional life sciences sector, a strong network of technology expertise exists across the Highlands and Islands. These businesses are ideally placed to pursue increasing opportunities for the development and deployment of innovative technology solutions and products for the health and wellbeing markets.

The sector typically delivers high levels of innovation with businesses generally international in their outlook and generating above average salaries. Regulatory requirements in the route to commercialisation can often lead to longer periods of research and development which demand specialist financial investment and extended timescales for return on investment.

Food and drink

From world-class beef and lamb to fresh fish and shellfish, traditional shortbread, Scottish oatcakes and malt whisky, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland has it all.

The food and drink sector in the Highlands and Islands contributes £1 billion to the economy. Our region is renowned for producing high quality food and drink products. Businesses range from large global enterprises through to specialist niche producers, supporting some 32,000 jobs, often in more remote areas.

Not only is the food and drink industry a significant economic driver with great potential for further development, but the quality of our food and drink products play a key role in defining the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to the rest of the world.

Creative industries

Creative industries are those based on individual creativity, skill and talent, plus those that have the potential to create wealth and jobs through developing intellectual property. The creative industries sector is diverse and fast-growing, and makes an important contribution to the economy and cultural life of the Highlands and Islands.

Small and micro units dominate the sector, which includes a high proportion of semi-professionals, self-employed and voluntary/unpaid workers. This is the standard model worldwide, as business units will work with a much wider chain on individual projects.

Scotland's creativity is recognised throughout the world and has a strong international reputation.


The tourism industry is crucial to the economy of the Highlands and Islands, and proportionally more so than in the rest of Scotland. The sector includes a wide range of accommodation establishments; visitor attractions; restaurants, bars and take-away food shops; travel agencies and tour operators; libraries; and sporting and other recreational activities.

Most visitors come to the area because of its natural and cultural heritage, and to participate in outdoor activities such as walking and cycling, mountain biking and even surfing.

Famous destinations such as the Isle of Skye and Loch Ness with its fabled monster attract large numbers of visitors each year. Global whisky companies such as Diageo and Pernod Ricard showcase their individual brands through 5-star visitor centres, distinctive cultural and sporting events and exciting food and drink festivals.

The Highlands and Islands is a top destination for extreme sports enthusiasts. Sponsored events such as the Corona Extra Wave Classic PWA Windsurfing Championships in Tiree, the Nissan World Cup Mountain Bike Championships in Fort William, and the O'Neill Highland Open Surfing Championships in Thurso showcase our sports resources and attractions to a worldwide audience.

Tourism remains a key sector for HIE and one that can make a significant contribution to a competitive region.

Working with partners, especially VisitScotland, HIE is a key player in meeting the national ambitions to grow the value of the tourism sector equating to an additional £600m expenditure into the region.

Globally, tourism is the world's largest industry in terms of outputs, creating some eight per cent of jobs worldwide and expanding annually at the rate of four to five per cent.

Financial and Business Services

Part of the Financial and Business Services sector, outsourcing activity is an increasingly important source of employment in the region.  In the past few years, the growing trend for delivering outsourcing activity has accelerated rapidly.  We now have a distinct IT Outsourcing cluster, offering end to end IT services, from first and second line call handlers to software innovation and development.

The cluster includes several high profile organisations, all servicing a range of blue chip and major public sector clients, including Capgemini, Atos and Fujitsu.

Opportunities for growth in the Business Services sector exist across the Highlands and Islands region, for both outsourced and in-house sites.  Key areas include shared services functions in particular where complex, high-value skills sets are required such as IT, Human Resources, Customer Service, Legal Services, Finance and Accounting.