- Silicon Glen
Silicon Glen is a
nicknamefor the high techsector of Scotland. It is applied to the Central Belttriangle between Dundee, Inverclydeand Edinburgh, which includes Fife, Glasgowand Stirling; although electronics facilities outside this area may also be included in the term. The term has been in use since the 1980s. It does not technically represent a " glen" as it covers a much wider area than just one valley.
Silicon Glen had its origins in the
electronicsbusiness with IBMbeing one of the first companies to set up when it opened a manufacturing facility in Greenockin 1953. 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 the establishment of home grown companies.
The emphasis on electronics came about due to the decline in traditional Scottish heavy industries such as
shipbuildingand 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 relatively easy to achieve.
Like the bedrock of
Silicon Valleywas in semiconductors, Silicon Glen also had a significant influence in semiconductordesign and manufacturing starting in 1960 with Hughes Aircraftestablishing its first facility outside the US in Glenrothesto manufacture germaniumand silicon diodes. In 1966 Elliott Automationestablished a production facility in Glenrothesfollowed by a MOSresearch laboratory in 1967. This was followed in 1969 by the establishment of wafer fabs by General Instrumentin Glenrothes, Motorolain East Kilbrideand National Semiconductorin Greenock. Other companies who developed semiconductor wafer fabrication or other manufacturing plants included SGS in Falkirk, NEC, Burr-Brown Corporation, IPS (then Seagate) and Kymata (now Gemfire) in Livingston, CST in Glasgowand Micronasin Glenrothes.
There were some other notable successes such as the large
Sun Microsystemsplant in Linlithgowand the Digital Equipment Corporationsemiconductor manufacturing plant in South Queensferry where the pioneering 64-bitAlpha processor was made. Digital also opened an office in Livingston, developing their flagship VAX/VMSoperating system. Rodimeof Glenrothespioneered the 3.5" hard disk drive in 1983 and spent subsequent years defending its patents against (and collecting royalties from) Seagate, Quantum, IBMand others.
It was estimated that the manufacturing sector produced approximately 30% of Europe's PCs, 80% of its Workstations, and 65% of its ATMs.
The heavy dependency on electronics manufacturing hit Silicon Glen hard after the collapse ofthe hi-tech economy in 2000.
Viasystems, National Semiconductor, Motorolaand Chunghwaalllaid off substantial numbers of employees or closed factories completely. The effects of the Viasystemsclosure are still felt in the Scottish Borderstoday. Digital sold their Alpha facility to Motorolawho eventually closed it down. Motorolaalso closed their factory in Bathgateand 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. Thereis also more of an interest in encouraging home grown talent.
In order to diversify away from electronics and manufacturing, the development agencies nowsee
Global Servicesas being a potential area of growth, but there is also substantial interest in the software development industry, including Rockstar North, developers of the market leading Grand Theft Auto series. There is also a dynamic and fast growing electronics design and development industry, based around links between the very strong universities and indigenous companies like [http://www.wolfsonmicro.com/ Wolfson] , Linn, [http://www.nallatech.com/ Nallatech] , [http://www.axeon.com/ Axeon] and 4i2i [ [http://www.4i2i.com/ 4i2i Communications] ] , and projects like the Alba Campus. The software sector has also notably attracted Amazon.comto set up a software development centre in Edinburgh, the first such centre outside the US. There remains a significant presence of global players like National Semiconductor, IBMand Freescale. The move from a primarily manufacturing dominated region to a wealth creation one has been successful as demonstrated in a report from UBS Wealth Managementin 2006 showing Scotland with more venture backed companies per capita than any other UK region.
In addition to the indigenous companies, Silicon Glen continues to have quite a significant semiconductor design community of inward investment companies including
Atmel, Freescale, National Semiconductor, Semtech, Micrel, Analog Devices, Allegro MicroSystems, Micro Linear, Micronas and ST Microelectronics.
[http://www.semefab.co.uk/ Semefab] , the former
General Instrumentsemiconductor foundry, has been funded as the UK's Primary Centre for the development of Micro Electric Mechanical Systems ( MEMS) and Nanotechnology. ["Semefab news article, SEMEFAB TO OFFER UK’S FIRST MEMS OPEN ACCESS FACILITY" [http://www.semefab.co.uk/mainstory.php?PHPSESSID=3c845f8a4afa5c1ec016e3e378925500] ]
Scotland had 1,000 companies in electronics employing 25,000 people in 2004, this number has been in decline since 2000 when 48,000 people were employed in the industry in Scotland [Fife Council (2006)"Sector Profiles- Electronics [http://www.fifedirect.org.uk/uploadfiles/publications/c64_ufgcov.pdf] ] .
high technology companies are established in Silicon Glen, including: Sun Microsystems, Motorola, Agilent, IBM, Microsoft, Raytheon, Oracle Corporation, Cadence Design Systems, 3Com, Adobe Systems, [http://www.semefab.co.uk/ Semefab] , [http://www.brand-rex.com/uk/ Brand Rex] , [http://www.bitechnologies.com/ BI Technologies] , [http://www.crc-group.com/ CRC Group] , [http://www.cgi.co.uk/contactus.htm Compugraphics] , National Semiconductor, [http://www.micronas.com/company/index.html Micronas] and Atos Origin
University of St Andrews
University of Edinburgh
University of Glasgow
University of Aberdeen
University of Dundee
University of Stirling
University of Strathclyde
University of Abertay Dundee
Glasgow Caledonian University
University of the West of Scotland
References & Notes
* [http://www.scotlandis.com Scotland IS] , the trade body for the Scottish IT sector
* [http://www.geocasestudies.com/industryglobalisation.html Silicon Glen geography case study]
* [http://www.scottishdevelopers.com/ Scottish Developers] , forum for Scottish software developers
* [http://www.scotsman.com The Scotsman] , Edinburgh based newspaper
* [http://www.theherald.co.uk/ The Herald] , Glasgow based newspaper
* [http://www.spingal.plus.com/micro Pico and General Instrument's 1970 development of a single chip calculator processor chip] Possibly pre-dating Intel and TI.
Edinburgh Science Triangle
List of places with 'Silicon' names
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