Arvind Salwan, director of Civic/New Media Corp reports from the launch of the new Digital Quarter on the shores of the River Clyde in Glasgow.
The attendance at the launch event for the Digital Media Quarter (DMQ), hosted by BBC Scotland, at its Pacific Quay HQ, was like a Who’s Who of the creative industries, in particular, those representative of the mainstream television broadcasting and digital industries.
Arriving late due to the inclement weather, Swinney made a well received joke about how he could no longer blame the (previous) Government for the M8 gridlock. In an unscripted speech, he made a strong and compelling case for the growth of the creative industries, adding that they played a vital role in the Government’s economic strategy and, in turn, presented a chance for Scotland to showcase its innovation and creativity on an international stage. Swinney acknowledged the difficult trading conditions but encouraged industry figures to think long-term.
Lena Wilson, Chief Operating Officer, Scottish Enterprise, which has developed the ambitious regeneration project, announced the formation of an Industry Advisory Group, to be chaired by the Channel 4 supremo Stuart Cosgrove, and the move by Shed Productions to occupy one of the new buildings, a decision on the back of its commission to produce Hope Springs, a new, peak-time drama.
DMQ offers the potential to create a highly distinctive, dedicated business location for Scotland’s digital media industries. Scottish Enterprise and the developers now have the task to get interested parties to sign-up and commit to premises. The project aims to develop Scotland's involvement in key growth markets enabled by digital content and technologies and is designed to attract a diverse range of digital businesses such as content developers and providers, broadcasters and publishers, communication technology companies and research and development institutions. At the vanguard, existing key tenants on Pacific Quay include BBC Scotland, which features the most advanced broadcasting centre in Europe, Scottish Television, Glasgow Science Centre, XFM Scotland and Film City Glasgow.
The masterplan for the DMQ makes provision for around 30,000 square metres of built development. To support the creation of this new media community, the proposals also include amenity uses such as retail and commercial leisure as well as new floor space for business. Scottish Enterprise is delivering the DMQ in partnership with the private sector via the provision of serviced plots for development.
Scotland's digital industry is significant and the digital quarter will look to strengthen that success further.
Between 2003 and 2007, Scottish based digital media businesses have collectively secured investments of over £21.8 million.
It is understood that there are around 27,000 people working in 1,200 companies in Scotland. The sector provides some of the highest gross value added outputs of any sector. Huge opportunity to develop this sector further.
In 2000, a strategy was launched to nurture and develop Scotland’s creative industries. Over five years, up to £25 million was spent on working with partners to develop the industry, through projects such as the Digital Media Project Fund, a Workforce Development Plan for the audio-visual industries, the Ideasfactory and TRC partnership with Channel 4, the Proof of Concept Programme and, of course, the establishment of Pacific Quay.
The Government is now ‘sharpening’ the focus of that activity and working to develop an updated strategy in consultation with industry. It has established a Digital Media Industry Advisory Group, which has already prioritised its initial objectives for the sector as innovation, investment and internationalisation.