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Growth Sector Statistics


Scotland's Economic Strategy identifies those sectors where Scotland has a distinct comparative advantage:

  • Food & Drink (including agriculture & fisheries)
  • Creative Industries (including digital)
  • Sustainable Tourism
  • Energy (including renewables)
  • Financial & Business Services
  • Life Sciences

The Growth Sectors are defined using Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 2007 codes. SIC codes are used to classify business establishments by the main type of economic activity in which they are engaged.

The latest available statistics on the Growth Sectors are available here:

If you would like to be kept informed about future developments on Growth Sectors, please register to receive updates via Scotstat (under Economy topic pick Growth Sector Statistics).

Notes on Growth Sector Database

Data is provided for:

The Growth Sector definitions have been applied back in time as far as each data source allows so that there is not a step change in the economic statistics which would hinder time series analysis.

Note that the data contained in the Growth Sector Statistics Database is not comparable with the data contained in the Key Sector Statistics Database. The Growth Sectors are defined on a SIC 2007 basis, whereas the Key Sectors were defined on a SIC 2003 basis - and significant changes were made to some of the sectors in redefining on a SIC 2007 Growth Sector basis. More details on the differences between the old SIC 2003 Key Sector definitions and the new SIC 2007 Growth Sector definitions are available in the consultation documentation below.

Growth Sector - Local Authority Area Database

This database provides economic statistics at a Local Authority level for the Growth Sectors: Food and Drink, Financial and Business Services, Energy (including renewable), Sustainable Tourism, Life Sciences, Creative Industries (including digital). Data is provided for:

The latest local authority area statistics on the Growth Sectors are available here:

Growth Sector Statistics Local Authority Area Database

Tables 3.1 to 3.4 are also split using the Scottish Governments 2-fold Urban Rural Classification. The Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification provides definition of rural areas in Scotland.

  • Urban Areas - Settlements of 3,000 or more people
  • Rural Areas - Settlements of less than 3,000 people


International Tourism

Scottish economic statistics, on the international definition of the Tourism Industries, are also available. 

The international definition of Tourism Industries is the same as that used by the Tourism Intelligence Unit at the Office for National Statistics, outlined in their Supply Side of Tourism: The Geography of Tourism Employment Release.

These statistics are provided to allow comparisons between Scotland and other countries.  The Scottish Government's preferred definition of the tourism-related industries for monitoring change in the Sustainable Tourism Growth Sector are available in the Growth Sector Statistics Database above.

 The  latest available statistics on the International Tourism definition are available here:

Life Sciences Cluster

An alternative source for measuring the economic activity of the Life Sciences sector can be derived from a Scottish Enterprise maintained database of companies involved in research, product and technology development, services, and support within the Life Sciences sector. In 2014, a review of Scottish Enterprise’s database was undertaken which led to a refreshed Life sciences company list being compiled, which is now subject to yearly updates.

Scottish Enterprise supplies the Scottish Government with its Life Sciences database each year so that estimates of turnover and GVA can be sourced by matching the Life Sciences database with financial data from the Annual Business Survey via a company matching exercise.

For information, Scottish Enterprise also calculates figures for overall number of organisations and employment in Life sciences. These figures are calculated by adding number of enterprises / employment from company matching exercise with number of organisations / people in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and number of organisations / people working in non-HEI organisations. See Table below:

Results via:

No. of Enterprises / Organisations

Total Employment (in Th's) Total Turnover (in £m) Gross Value Added at Basic Prices (in £m)

Life sciences matching exercise 1

Scottish Enterprise Totals 2

675 (enterprises)


771 (organisations)











  1. Results from company matching exercise between Scottish Enterprise list and 2016 Scottish Annual Business Statistics database.

  2. Scottish Enterprise (SE) takes results from Life sciences company matching exercise and adds separate data for Higher Education Institutions (data provided by Higher Education Statistics Agency) and other research institutions (data provided by SE internal research) in order to produce overall organisation counts and employment.

Tables summarising statistics from the different sources can be found here:  Life Sciences Cluster