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Finance Minister Checks Out Dare's 'Fresh Talent'

DATE OF ISSUE: THURSDAY 4TH AUGUST 2005

Scotland's Minister for Finance, Tom McCabe, will visit Dundee today (Thursday 4th August 2005) to meet with students taking part in the high profile Dare to be Digital competition, based at the University of Abertay Dundee.

The minister will meet with the 48 students from across the globe currently battling it out in the games competition - hailed by industry bible, Develop, as "the closest you can get to commercial game development" - which received Scottish Executive funding for 2005 as part of the 'Fresh Talent' initiative.

The additional £35,000 from the Scottish Executive has enabled the unique games competition to become an international player for 2005, with teams from across the UK and Ireland now joined by a further eight scholarship students from Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Mr McCabe said "Abertay is at the cutting edge of games design and Dare To Be Digital is our opportunity to show the rest of the world our creativity and leadership in this field, and to encourage more international students to come and share ideas and experiences with our games experts of tomorrow.

"Fresh Talent is all about identifying new ways to attract more people to come to work in Scotland to complement our home-grown talent. Dare to be Digital fits perfectly with this - it supports the aims of Fresh Talent and brings together talented students from around the world to work with our own young talent."

Dare to be Digital is a competition open to students from Universities and Art Colleges and is based at the University of Abertay Dundee, which runs the competition in partnership with Scottish Enterprise Tayside and Dundee City Council.

The eight teams to make it through to the prestigious Dare to be Digital competition submitted a concept for a new and original computer game or educational entertainment product. Judges were not only looking for the most creative ideas, but those that fulfilled the greatest market potential. Receiving help from industry specialists and a project fee of £1700, the teams have ten weeks to present a finished digital prototype and business sales document which can be pitched to investors.

The competition draws to a close on August 18th where a special awards ceremony will be held in Dundee to announce the winners. Up for grabs are the three main prizes, each worth £2000, for 'Product with Greatest Market Potential', 'Product with Greatest Innovation and Creativity' and the 'Technical Excellence Prize'. An additional prize of £500 will go to the 'Best International Scholar'. 'Best Programmer', 'Best Artist' and 'Best Team Leader', will each receive an Xbox, donated by Microsoft.

Professor Bernard King, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Abertay University, commented: "We are extremely proud of Dare to be Digital, and the incredible impact that it has had on the games industry in the UK. At Abertay, we work hard to promote new ideas and new ways of learning. By helping to promote our key messages of entrepreneurialism, innovation, and creativity, Dare to be Digital is a flagship for the whole University.

"The successful implementation of the Fresh Talent Initiative by the Executive will contribute enormously to Scotland's economic success in the global market place. I'm delighted that Abertay and the Executive can work together on the Initiative in this way, and I'm very pleased that we can show Mr McCabe first hand how that partnership is paying dividends."

The teams - which work from Dundee and have access to the cutting edge facilities at Abertay University - are paid on a weekly basis and supported by experienced industry specialists, who offer technical, creative and business advice, mentors who are inaccessible to any student outside the Dare project.

New sponsors on board for 2005 include Electronic Arts and Develop - the international trade publication for creators of interactive entertainment software. With its increasing reputation for producing some of the most promising talent entering the games sector, the competition continues to receive invaluable support from, Microsoft, NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), BBC Scotland Interactive and NCR.

Press

Stephanie Robertson

T: 01333 451 122

M: 07919 447 231

E: stephanie@crail.sol.co.uk

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