Game for Success; the Demand for Computer Software Is Here to Stay and, as MARJORIE CALDER Reports, Scottish Whiz-Kids Want a Piece of the Global Industry

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If there's a buzz and crackle around the hi-tech industries this year, it has been one of disappointment at the loss of several high-profile inward investments.

But there are still a lot of highly-charged and positive developments going on in the seemingly unstoppable software sector, where a global appetite for new products is undiminished.

This is an area where home-grown Scottish talent can do, and does, extremely well. But the emphasis is not on the global big boys, but on smaller, independent companies working to create products for the world market.

A report commissioned by Scottish Enterprise predicts that Scotland's software industry will more than double in size during the next 10 years, to employ more than 50,000 people.

But computer software is a fast-moving and fickle industry, and the time lapse between developing an idea and getting real financial return from it can defeat small companies with limited resources, sending them to the wall before they can profit from their creativity.

SO Scottish Enterprise commissioned the Ernst & Young report to help devise a way of supporting the home-grown talent and innovation on which future prosperity depend.

The report concludes: "There is a need for Scottish industry to exploit global opportunities more fully and to realise the full potential within Scotland. …