Growth in the Valley

from The Herald, 27th April 1998

Up-and-coming Scottish software companies are being given the chance to capture a slice of the lucrative Californian market by locating in a new incubator unit at San Jose, south of San Francisco.

The Scottish Software Centre was officially opened yesterday by Scottish Office Industry Minister Brian Wilson.

Operated by Government export agency Scottish Trade International (STI) and the software team of economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, it is Scotland’s first overseas software centre.

It offers temporary accommodation for up to seven companies at a time and it is hoped that it will allow Scottish software firms to win at least an additional $5m (3m) of exports in the next two years.

The centre’s launch follows hard on the heels of the opening last week of a similar but larger centre backed by the South Korean Government, which is only a stone’s throw away. The South Korean unit is home to 10 companies, and this will rise to 15 by July.

Also nearby, in an international business incubator, are about 14 companies from 11 different countries.

Wilson, who is this week leading a Scottish Council Development and Industry trade mission to California, said: "The opening of our first overseas software centre in the heart of Silicon Valley is a vital strategic step for Scotland.

It will help our companies compete even more effectively in the valley market where, in 1996, the top 150 public companies sold $170bn (100bn-plus) worth of computers, software and related products."

Silicon Valley is home to about 7000 electronics and software companies and 11 new ones are, on average, created every week.

The Scottish Software Centre’s first three tenants, Edinburgh-based Orbital Technologies and Aspects Software and Clydebank’s Marketing Management Services, are now in the new incubator unit.

Marketing Management Services offers real-time market research information through software and hardware products it has developed.

Software vendor Orbital, founded in 1995, plans a six-people sales and marketing team to cover the US. The company recently received $2m (1.2m) of venture capital from 3 i and Scottish Enterprise’s Scottish Development Finance arm.

Aspects is involved in testing "smart cards" - which carry data on magnetic strips - and is collaborating with Visa International.

They will be assisted by centre manager John Del Favero, formerly a world-wide product marketing manager and strategic planner with computer giant IBM, in setting up banking facilities, researching the market, and seeking out new customers.

The European Regional Development Fund and Local enterprise company Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise are helping with the ongoing costs of the project.

The unit is the first of a number of business centres which STI plans to open in the US.

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