Among the organisations name-checked by a number of our interviewees as part of Scotland Week is Interactive Tayside - but what does it do, and how does it help videogames companies in and around Dundee? Here's a profile to help explain just that.
Tayside - made of Perth and Kinross, Angus, and the City of Dundee - is no stranger to the creative arts and has had a successful history in cultivating talent in the publishing, design and music industries and is renowned as a breeding ground for innovation and skills. So it is with little surprise that the region has made a concerted effort to grow and develop its digital media industry - creating Interactive Tayside, a partnership between public, private and academic sectors designed to encourage, develop and promote the region's digital media industry.
Interactive Tayside offers a range of services in support of the industry. Advice is sometimes all a business needs to flourish, and Interactive Tayside makes sure that any digital media business in Tayside can be allocated its own adviser, to be the first point of contact for support, information and advice. These advisors can help to identify a business's requirements and assist it in accessing the most appropriate sources of information and support on a range of key issues - funding, product development, exports, training and skills.
The group also focuses on providing information on events that happen within the industry held in Dundee, Perthshire and Angus. These informal events cover a wide range of topics relevant to the growth of Tayside's digital media industry and serve as great networking opportunities.
Any technology-based company faces a tremendous level of difficulty when it comes to funding itself, often requiring expensive hardware and highly-trained and highly sought-after staff. Interactive Tayside offers special advisers, who are able to help businesses investigate possible sources of funding and prepare for being 'investor-ready'.
Public sector agencies in Tayside, alongside banks and venture capital groups, have participated in substantial funding packages to assist the development of the region's digital media companies. This has made funding available for the development and introduction of new products, processes and services for business that have been able to demonstrate the proposals are well-focused and researched, and where a strategy and route to market has been identified.
Interactive Tayside helps companies to identify skills they need - offering coaching and financial support through human resources specialists at Scottish Enterprise Tayside and other organisations, as well as offering free job postings to its website and a newsletter free of charge.
The group also offers advice in helping companies become more internationally focused and helps with the promotion and PR of businesses. Interactive Tayside provides the free services of their PR operative who will write press releases for companies. Those press releases are published on its website and are then distributed to local and national press, when appropriate.
This unique partnership and the effort it represents in pooling the region's resources have helped to foster and promote the industry to an astounding degree. There are now over 350 businesses operating in the area of digital media in Tayside, employing over 3300 people and generating a combined annual turnover in excess of GBP 185 million. Of the businesses in the region, most notable are the games studios Realtime Worlds and Dynamo Games, as well as the animation studio Ink Digital and Scotland's largest internet service provider ScotlandOnLine.
Tayside has experienced a boom in the digital media industry, thanks in part to the work of Interactive Tayside, with the sector seeing growth in employment of 225 per cent since the year 2000. Despite this already staggering growth, two thousand more jobs are expected to be created within the sector by 2010.
The long-term future of the region's industry also looks bright as the two local universities and three further education colleges are helping to produce 900 graduates - from over 50 different nationalities - in digital media disciplines each year.
This article is part of Scotland Week on GamesIndustry.biz, sponsored by Dundee City Council and Realtime Worlds.