Scotland's 'Silicon Glen' received a major boost this week with plans to create a design centre for revolutionary chip technology in Livingston.
US-based Cadence Design Systems, market leader in semiconductor design tools, will create the software design facility with backing from IBM and the Scottish Office, it announced on Wednesday. As well as Cadence' own operations, it will provide a network enabling local hi-tech companies to exchange ideas and trade electronically with global partners.
Called the Scottish Design Complex, the project is expected to create around 1,900 jobs, with 160 personnel required by the end of 1998 and a further 6,000 jobs created as a result of expected investment in the area.
IBM will provide a secure high bandwidth network, allowing companies in Silicon Glen to communicate with each other while safeguarding their own ideas and information.
?The Scottish Design Complex is a significant step for IBM in establishing an e-business environment for semiconductor companies worldwide,? said John Holz, vice president of engineering technology solutions at IBM.
The entire facility will be geared around design of system-on-a-chip technology, which could radically reduce the weight and power consumption of future PCs, televisions and mobile phones. The process involves combining multiple sub-components on to a single chip, in a similar way that individual chips are currently assembled on a single printed circuit board.
? We believe this vision shared with Cadence can create a new era for Scotland. It will put us into a leadership position well into the next century,? said Crawford Beveridge, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise.
No one in Cadence was prepared to declare how much money the company is sinking into the project or to discuss any incentives offered by the UK government. The company also rejected claims that the project could be "a repeat of Hyundai", the Korean electronics company that recently backed out of a major investment in the area.
A spokesman for Cadence admitted that "the company had considered sites in most of the countries traditionally associated with IT before settling on Scotland".
The company stated that its principal reason for choosing Scotland was the country?s "pool of highly skilled and readily available engineering talent". It will counter the skills shortage worldwide by working directly with Glasgow, Heriott Watt, Strathclyde and Edinburgh universities, to create "the worlds first institute specialising in system level integration".
Professor Steve Beaumont, head of the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering at the University of Glasgow, said: ?Inward investors in the past have had to fight with existing companies for high calibre staff. This new venture can solve these supply-side problems and make the Scottish electronics industry even more competitive.?
Recruitment of staff for the facility has already begun and they are expected to be housed in temporary buildings until construction of the facility starts in the first quarter of 1998.
The electronics industry in Scotland currently employs 46,000 people and produces nearly 40 per cent of branded PCs in Europe. The country has a 13 per cent share of total European semiconductor capacity and over 50 per cent of British capacity.
According to Scottish Enterprise, there is a history of IT investment in the country with IT and associated industries accounting for 27 per cent of the #3.5 billion of inward investment received up to last March.
"IT companies are keen to make use of the strong infrastructure and the history of excellent engineering associated with Scotland," said Alan Bradford of Scottish Enterprise.
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