Scotland is emerging as an unlikely games development hub, with companies as diverse as Real Time Worlds, responsible for developing the platform-busting Grand Theft Auto, and Digital Goldfish, developers of the popular iPhone game Bloons, setting up shop.
“We took a look at industries where Scotland could have a competitive advantage,” said Scottish Enterprise chief executive, Jack Perry. “And digital media is one of those areas where Scotland has a competitive advantage.”
Perry was in Australia to encourage investment in Scotland by local businesses, and to visit CeBIT. “We are actively looking for new partners in Australian business,” Perry says.
Scotland has a tax credit system, similar to the R&D tax credit system that operates in Australia. Along with digital media, the diminutive country has also chosen financial services and life sciences as areas where it can excel.
“We have over 5000 graduates in science and mathematics every year,” said Perry. Several Australian companies have already set up shop in Scotland, including Bravura Systems, and AMP Control, which targets the energy and mining sectors.
“We are looking at both in-bound and out-bound investment, and so that means encouraging our companies to come to Australia,” he says. “China is a tough gig for SMEs, and Australia is a good place to come because of the common language, and similar cultures.”
So far no Australian games houses have set up in Scotland, but it could be a matter of time. The former shipyards along the River Clyde have been redeveloped and repurposed into a digital media hub that already boasts tenants such as the BBC and Channel4 . “Independent production houses are flocking to the development,” Perry said.