Doubling the value of Scotland’s digital media sector revenue to £6.3 billion by 2012 is one of the aims of a new strategy published today by an advisory group set up by business support agency, Scottish Enterprise.
Chaired by Channel 4's director of nations and regions, Stuart Cosgrove, the Scottish Digital Media Industry Advisory Group has produced – in its report, 'Digital Inspiration' – what is believed to be the first strategy document for Scotland's digital media sector, which is understood to comprise some 500 companies. There are believed to be a further 800 companies in Scotland involved in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector.
Said Cosgrove: “Many of the simple things we do every day are being transformed by digital technologies – from online news and digital photography, to music downloads, multiplatform television and social networking.
“These markets offer huge potential for Scotland and we want to ensure that our companies are able to act on these opportunities. To achieve a step-change in Scotland’s global reputation in digital media, we need to increase the number of companies, encourage them to leverage, own and exploit the platforms on which they operate, and extract more value from intellectual property rights.”
The key recommendations within the strategy are:
* Increase both the number and scale of digital media companies
* A national drive to increase the volume and value of innovative digital media platforms owned or managed from Scotland
* A greater and more profitable role for Scottish companies in the chain of distribution and interactivity
* A more sophisticated understanding of the value to be derived from digital media as a growing and evolving business sector
* A greater commitment to improving the performance of companies in the creative ‘value-chain’
* Much more profitable leverage of intellectual property rights
* Launch a pilot programme of tax and fiscal benefits to support the Dundee games sector in 2010 to increase its global competitiveness
* Generate greater investor awareness of digital media as a growth sector and greater investor readiness on the part of emergent companies
* Cultivate a more ambitious national culture of acquisition, allowing Scottish companies to buy and not always be bought.
Says a statement issued by the group: “[Our vision] is to create a high growth, world class cluster of content, platform and technology providers, developing and distributing innovative digital content and technologies to global markets.
“Achieving this vision will require commitment and investment from businesses, academia, government and the public sector in five critical areas for development: innovation, interactive distribution platforms, internationalisation, investment and infrastructure.”
Scotland is home to games companies which have made a significant global impact such as Realtime Worlds (securing $81 million of venture capital since 2006) and Rockstar North (developers of the fastest-selling global entertainment product of all time, the video game: Grand Theft Auto IV).
In on-line marketing, BigMouth Media is a leading international digital marketing company based in Edinburgh.
The Scottish ICT sector features many companies which compete with great success internationally, including Craneware, Axios Systems and Memex.
In Glasgow, the Digital Media Quarter at Pacific Quay is being developed to house digital media enterprises.
The University of Abertay, in Dundee, recently launched the world’s first degree in Computer Games Design.
Adds Terry Hurley, senior director of Digital Media and Enabling Technologies at Scottish Enterprise: “I would like to thank the Digital Media Industry Advisory Group for their tremendous work in producing this strategy, that sets out both the opportunities in this exciting sector and the priority areas for action. The website, www.digitalinspiration.org.uk, is also very welcome as it will encourage greater engagement and deepen the debate about how the sector can grow.
“This debate is extremely important for Scottish Enterprise, other public sector organisations and industry, to inform how we can support the sector to achieve its growth potential, and ultimately result in Scotland’s economic growth.”