Green opportunities from Scotland’s knowledge economy

How is Scotland driving forward its knowledge economy as it aims to reach net carbon zero? Brian Conley, Head of Inward Delivery, Scottish Development International discusses some of the projects and opportunities across the country.

I believe that Scotland is a country where you will find excellence in education, a flair for invention and a passion for research. It is progressive and pioneering, with a track record of innovation and enterprise.

The shining jewel in our crown is our people. Scotland’s workforce is the best educated in Europe with 48% of people obtaining a tertiary qualification or higher. There are 27 colleges and 19 universities, four of which are ranked in the world’s top 200 institutions, producing over 110,000 graduates annually.

Innovation is high on our agenda too and, with a focus on promoting collaboration and active partnership between industry and academia to develop capabilities in key growth sectors such as life sciences and green energy, there are plenty of exciting knowledge hubs in Scotland.

Our three largest cities are already moving forward with plans to help build towards the country’s net carbon zero agenda. Aberdeen’s Energy Transition Programme, Edinburgh BioQuarter and the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District in Glasgow, are all working with local universities to push forward the green economy, invest in future energy, and maximise opportunities.


Edinburgh BioQuarter is a world-class life sciences cluster. The 160-acre site is a melting pot of talent. Home to two major hospitals, award-winning University of Edinburgh research institutes, a global top-20 medical school, and growing companies, it is one of the UK’s largest development opportunities in the life sciences sector.

World-leading academics, healthcare innovators, honoured clinicians and business will live, work and play together in this new mixed-use quarter of the capital. Planned development over the next five years includes clinical, academic and commercial space, and a GDV of £750 million.

Edinburgh BioQuarter will begin its search for a Commercial JV Development Partner in Spring 2021.

High level view of Edinburgh BioQuarter.Taken Aug 2018 and provided by EdinBQ. See usage rights and credit. See clearance sheet.


The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS), Scotland’s one-of-a-kind innovation district, covers 52 hectares of available greenfield land.

The internationally recognised scheme is leading the way in collaborative innovation. With two institutes of excellence, and Tier 1 suppliers including Rolls Royce and Boeing already present, the park and its infrastructure has been designed as net zero from the ground up. ​

AMIDS has already welcomed to two existing major research centres, operated by the University of Strathclyde—the new Lightweight Manufacturing Centre and the Advanced Forming Research Centre, Scotland’s only High Value Manufacturing Catapult centre –AMIDS will also be home to the £65 million National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and the £56 million Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

In 2021, Renfrewshire Council will launch a procurement exercise to identify a private sector partner to work in collaboration to deliver development on the site.


Aberdeen is one of Europe’s pioneering hydrogen cities with an existing fleet of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles that is set to expand.

The Aberdeen Hydrogen Programme will use renewable hydrogen across the transport sector and facilitate the application of zero-carbon fuel in domestic/commercial heat and industry in the region.

The level of development in offshore wind off the north east coast, coupled with its hydrogen expertise and the City region’s significant supply chain geared towards oil, gas and low carbon energy solutions means that the Aberdeen is poised to make a major contribution towards delivering Scotland’s vision of net zero by 2050.  

Aberdeen City Council now seeks long-term investment and development partners for a £250 million hydrogen infrastructure development programme across housing, heating and transport sectors.

31/07/18 Aberdeen hydrogen vehicles. Provided by Invest Aberdeen. See usage rights and credit. See clearance sheet.