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The information is accurate as of 31 December 2022.
Data courtesy of Beauhurst.

Analysis Report: Economic and Business Activity in Shetland Islands


The Shetland Islands’ economic landscape is characterised by a diverse range of sectors with notable strengths in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and service activities. The region exhibits a robust business environment, evidenced by healthy employee growth and a dynamic mix of company types.

Employment and Business Growth

  • Total Employees: 5,079 employees. The Shetland Islands have a modest but dynamic workforce. The employee growth rate of 7.08% is a positive indicator, reflecting economic vitality and potential for future expansion.
  • Companies with Employee Growth: 21 companies. This suggests a healthy, albeit concentrated, business environment where a select number of companies are expanding their workforce significantly.

Sector Dynamics

  • Top Sectors by Company Count: Agriculture, forestry, fishing (20.17%), other service activities (13.33%), professional, scientific, technical activities (11.67%), and construction (11.33%). These sectors are the backbone of the Shetland Islands’ economy, indicating a strong reliance on traditional industries and professional services.
  • Top Sectors with Rising Company Counts: Aerospace (1 company). Although in its nascent stage, this indicates a diversification in the industrial landscape.

Business Continuity

  • Company Cessations: 64 companies ceased operations. This figure underscores the challenges faced in the business ecosystem, possibly due to market dynamics or regional constraints.
  • New Companies (Last 2 Years): 232. This reflects a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and suggests a favorable environment for new business ventures.

Company and Innovation Metrics

  • Number of Scaleups: 6. This modest number of scaleups indicates potential areas for growth and the need for more support mechanisms to foster high-growth companies.
  • Patent Owners: 1. This suggests limited activity in innovation and intellectual property within the region.
  • Fundraising Activities: 2. This low number might indicate a need for improved access to capital for businesses in the region.

Diversity and Inclusion

  • Gender Distribution Among Founders: 16.67% female, 83.33% male. There’s a significant gender gap among founders, indicating a potential area for improvement in terms of diversity.
  • Gender Distribution Among Directors: 27.21% female, 68.27% male. Similar to founders, the boardrooms also show a gender disparity, albeit less pronounced.


The Shetland Islands present a mixed economic picture: strong in traditional sectors with emerging areas in newer industries. However, challenges in business continuity, innovation, and gender diversity need addressing to ensure a balanced and sustainable economic growth.

Company foundations and cessations over time

Active companies over time

The information is accurate as of 31 December 2022.
Data courtesy of Beauhurst.