Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Silicon Glen is a nickname for the high tech sector of Scotland. More usually applied to the Scottish Central belt between Dundee, Greenock, the Lothians and including Stirling, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Fife. It does not represent a Glen as it covers a much wider area than just one valley, however the name was probably adapted from Silicon Valley and has been in use in Scotland since the 1980s.
Silicon Glen had its origins in the electronics business with IBM being one of the first companies to set up when it established a manufacturing base in Greenock in 1951. Indeed this was typical of much of the early days of Silicon Glen, which were dominated by electronics manufacturing for foreign companies much more than software development or home grown companies. The emphasis on electronics came about due to the decline in traditional Scottish heavy industries such as steel and mining. The government development agencies saw electronics manufacturing as being a positive replacement for people made redundant through heavy industry closures and the associated training and reskilling was fairly easy to achieve. There were some notable sucesses from this invesment, such as the large Sun Microsystems plant in Linlithgow and the Digital Equipment Corporation manufacturing plant in South Queensferry where the pioneering 64 bit Alpha processor was made. Digital also started an office in Livingston developing their flagship VAX/VMS operating system.
The heavy dependency on electronics manufacturing hit Silicon Glen hard after the collapse of the hi-tech economy in 2000. Viasystems, National Semiconductor, Motorola and Chunghwa all laid off substantial numbers of employees or closed factories completely. Digital sold their Alpha facility to Motorola who eventually closed it down. Motorola also closed their factory in Bathgate and the substantial NEC plant in Livingston was also closed.
However, there are many promising signs as well as a recognition that diversification away from electronics and manufacturing produces a more balanced and stronger economy. There is also more of an interest in encouraging home grown talent.
In order to diversify away from electronics and manufacturing, the development agencies now see Call Centres as being an area of growth, but there is also substantial interest in the computer games market including Rockstar_North, developers of the market leading Grand Theft Auto series. There is still a focus on electronic design, spearheaded by the Alba Campus. However, the software sector has significantly attracted Amazon.com to set up a software development centre in Edinburgh, the first such centre outside the US.
Many high technology companies are established in Silicon Glen, including: Sun Microsystems, Motorola, Agilent, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle Corporation, Cadence Design Systems, 3Com, Adobe Systems and Atos Origin
- Edinburgh University
- Napier University
- Heriot-Watt University
- Glasgow University
- Glasgow Caledonian University
- Strathclyde University
- Stirling University
- Dundee University
- University of Abertay
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