Technology sector export plan

This plan reaffirms the commitments made from ‘A Trading Nation’ to ensure our trade and investment agenda is front and centre of our economic growth strategy.

Co-produced with stakeholders in the technology sector, this plan aims to substantially increase Scotland’s exports of technology.


Published in 2019 A Trading Nation: A Plan for Growing Scotland's Exports outlines the Scottish Government's ambitions to grow Scotland's exports to 25% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2029. The Plan commits to the development, with industry, of Sector Export Plans focused on growing exports from key sectors highlighted in A Trading Nation (ATN). It recognised that the technology, digital and media industries are some of Scotland's top 5 strategic sectors.

The purpose of this Technology Sector Export Plan (TSEP) is to: create a clear framework through which industry, public sector and the Scottish Government can collaborate; identify and maximise the export opportunities; capitalise on Scotland's technology export strengths; and make a significant contribution to our overall export growth ambitions set out in ATN.

In 2021, there were 10,395 VAT/PAYE registered businesses in the technology sector, which equated to 5.8 per cent of the 178,670 VAT/PAYE registered businesses in Scotland's private sector. The level of total Scottish employment provided by these technology businesses was 83,610, which equated to 4.3 per cent of total Scottish private sector employment (1.9 million). The total Scottish turnover of these technology sector businesses was £21.6 billion, which equated to 7.4 per cent of the £293.2 billion total Scottish private sector turnover. This data is from the Businesses in Scotland 2021, ONS (IDBR) publication data.

The technology sector is very broad and there are many areas of the sector in which Scotland has key strengths and comparative advantages internationally. The diagram on page 2 sets out an overview of Scotland's current technology ecosystem, with the caveat that the innovative nature of the sector means it is constantly evolving.

What is certain, is the increasingly integral nature of the technology sector to Scotland's economic success. There is real potential to further internationalise that will allow Scotland to not only match our competitors, but in many cases lead in international markets, given our global profile and demand for high value Scottish technology products and services.

Scotland's Technology Ecosystem – International Growth Opportunities
a diagram which provides a description of International Growth Opportunities within the Technology ecosystem. Each level describes how software and hardware align with Scotland's economic priorities and the market sectors in which there are opportunities for exporting.

Source: Scottish Development International (SDI), 2021

In recent years, the pandemic has demonstrated a transformative shift, globally, in the way sectors have evolved to support the new environment we are experiencing.

As a result, we are experiencing an unprecedented demand for products and solutions across the technology sector globally which is creating exciting opportunities for Scotland.

Sectors such as education, healthcare and financial services have also embraced change through the adoption of digital technologies which have fundamentally changed the way businesses and organisations operate and how customers engage with these sectors.

To support this transformation, there is on-going engagement with industry, public sector and government to explore ways in which we can grow the exports of this sector further, embracing this new way of living, working and learning through disruptive technologies and growing our global competitiveness. This approach is also aligned with our enterprise agencies' approach including Scottish Enterprise's 2021-22 Business Plan which outlined the future economic opportunities that will drive Scotland's international advantage, and wider initiatives to tackle the skills gap and develop a digital workforce to prepare for future technology sectors.

The Government and partners will continue to deliver ATN in line with the Scottish Government's Vision for Trade published in 2021. In addition the Scottish Government National Strategy for Economic Transformation, a 10-year strategy, sets out a clear aim of growing Scotland's economy.

This TSEP will look at Scotland's long-term economic success and identify areas of emerging opportunity for technology export growth. These could include for example: net zero, enhanced health and wellbeing, accelerated use of digital technologies and advanced manufacturing.

To support the trade ambition within ATN and accelerate economic recovery and growth, this TSEP sets out our aim to work collaboratively across the technology ecosystem to support companies and industries to build export capacity and capability. In doing so we can support businesses to adapt to new global markets and continue to grow internationally from the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK's exit from the European Union (EU).

The technology sector in Scotland has shown great resilience, innovation and diversity in the face of recent unprecedented challenges, maintaining high levels of activity during the COVID-19 pandemic and positioning itself to further embrace growth domestically and also through international opportunities. This TSEP provides a framework for industry, public sector, and Scottish Government collaboration to continue to drive this growth over the coming months and years.



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