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20/01/2014 - Scottish Technology: Silicon Glen's role in the independence debate

2014 is the year of the referendum on Scottish independence, and everyone is talking about the Scottish economy – in particular, how it might fare if Scots vote to make the break. The majority of discussions come back to energy; Scotland has no doubt got more than its fair share of natural resources and renewables. But what of its man-made resources? Scotland's software and electronic publishing sector makes an enormous contribution to the economy, employing over 19,000 people and contributing just under £1bn, earning the affectionate nickname “Silicon Glen”.

The Scottish Parliament

Edinburgh alone has already produced some globally recognised tech startup successes, including the flight search engine Skyscanner and photo diary site Blipfoto. Growing this momentum is Techcube, a startup incubator currently home to some of the city's brightest hackers, artists and inventors. Just a couple of floors up from CereProc's office, there is a monthly jostle to get to the free beer and pizza offered up by the Edinburgh branch of national organisation TechMeetup, at which industry professionals and enthusiasts alike can learn from specialist presentations and make useful contacts. Widen the net and you'll find a similar buzz about peer collaboration and knowledge exchange thanks to groups like RookieOven and Girl Geek Scotland.

Then there's the Scottish gaming sector, which was the centre of attention late last year thanks to the release of the Grand Theft Auto V by Rockstar North – a game which has sold more than 15 million copies and generated over a billion dollars in revenue (the nostalgic among you might smile at the fact that Rockstar North were also behind Lemmings). The University of Abertay in Dundee started up the world's first computer games degree course, and plays host to the annual Dare To Be Digital competition for game development. Aside from producing BAFTA winning games, this academic backing fuels the innovation and creativity which already thrives at over 50 games studios north of the border.

As the only text-to-speech company in the UK, let alone Scotland, CereProc are extremely proud to be trailblazers in this dynamic and expanding industry. Our prime location at the heart of the University of Edinburgh's campus makes us next-door neighbours to a multiplicity of young and exciting companies, together forming a network which supports and drives its various parties. Meanwhile, our ties to the University's world-leading Centre for Speech Technology and Research mean that we're in close contact with some of the very best in the field.

Whether it's the historical beauty of Edinburgh, the urban edge of Glasgow, or the fact that you're never more than an hour or so away from some of the most breathtaking wild landscapes in the world, it's easy to see why Scotland is ripe not only to attract, but to hold on to the best global technology talent. As The Scotsman's Andrew Eaton-Lewis said, “If you can build productive international relationships by Skype, email or LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, then culture can flourish in Glasgow and Edinburgh – or Anstruther, or Orkney, or Eigg – just as well as it can in London.” And, as communication experts, CereProc wholeheartedly agree.

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