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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
13 June 2022
Highlands and Islands businesses investing more in new technologies than the rest of rural Scotland

Highlands and Islands businesses investing more in new technologies than the rest of rural Scotland

Highlands and Islands businesses are investing more in new technologies than firms in the rest of rural Scotland, according to a new report. 

A Highlands and Island Enterprise (HIE) Business Panel survey found the region has outperformed other rural areas in every technological metric.   

The survey was carried out in partnership with the Scottish Government and South of Scotland Enterprise. More than 2,700 businesses were included, of which 1,017 were based in the Highlands and Islands.   

Despite inflation sitting at nine per cent, record fuel prices and supply chain issues, most businesses in the region have reported continued signs of recovery, while 43 per cent are striving for growth. 

Two thirds of the businesses in the Highlands and Islands have shown stable employment levels.

Confidence in the country’s economic outlook fell from 64 per cent in October 2021 to 60 per cent. However, the most recent figure is ten per cent higher than the rest of rural Scotland.   

Amongst this positive news for the region, there is palpable concern from businesses that took part in the survey about the rise in costs; 94 per cent of businesses have voiced this worry, while 98 per cent of food and drink and tourism businesses are concerned.   

Martin Johnson, HIE’s director of strategy and regional economy, said: “It is important that we gather and track data about the bigger picture of our region’s economy and the main challenges and opportunities facing companies across different sectors and locations. 

“It’s been a really tough couple of years for businesses everywhere, and while Covid restrictions have lifted, they’re now facing a whole new set of challenges. 

“There’s no surprise that confidence would take a hit in the current economic climate, but it’s still encouraging that it remains comparatively strong in our region. It’s also encouraging that businesses in the Highlands and Islands appear to be embracing new technologies and taking more action towards low carbon ways of working, however it’s clear that their main focus is still on resilience. 

“As we continue our economic recovery, we must fully appreciate the magnitude of challenges facing businesses and tailor support and interventions accordingly. That’s what the Business Panel survey is there for. The findings are used to inform support strategies for HIE and our partners going forward, and we are extremely grateful to all those who took part.” 

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