By Claire West

Seven Scottish computer games developers have been offered grants to get their products to market, the Culture Secretary has announced.

The seven start-ups are the latest companies to qualify for support from the Prototype Fund, a UK-wide scheme supported by the European Regional Development Fund, Scottish Government and Abertay University. It offers grants of up to £25,000 to help small and new businesses create prototypes of games and other interactive digital content.

This brings the total number of Scottish companies benefiting from the scheme to 20 — representing 43 per cent of all the companies supported across the UK.

Speaking on the first day of the Digital Spark Conference at the University of Abertay, Fiona Hyslop said:

“I am delighted to announce that a further seven Scottish companies are being offered up to £175,000 support from the Prototype Fund to develop their ideas into commercially viable products. This scheme aims to foster economic growth, create jobs, and improve skills in a sector which is a priority for the Scottish Government.

“Scotland is known the world over as a creative and innovative nation, with our computer games industry undoubtedly one of our global success stories. Indeed, software and electronic publishing was worth almost £1 billion to the Scottish economy in 2010 — a third of the value of our creative industries.

“That is why the Scottish Government is working with a range of partners to ensure appropriate support is in place for our creative industries, to make the most of the talent, infrastructure and cutting-edge skills that Scotland, and Dundee in particular, has to offer in this fast-growing and competitive market.”

Professor Nigel Seaton, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Abertay University, said: “We are grateful to the Cabinet Secretary for launching Digital Spark 2012 by announcing the latest grants from our very successful Prototype Fund.

“The Fund is designed specifically to fill a gap in the market by unlocking trapped value so as to stimulate economic growth and the creation of new jobs, and Digital Spark complements this by facilitating knowledge transfer of issues and strategies to optimise the exploitation of creativity and intellectual property on which the digital industries — especially the vibrant sectors in Dundee and across Scotland — depend for success.

“I am sure that the discussions we will be having at Digital Spark today and tomorrow will make a solid contribution to the growth of the digital entertainment industry throughout Scotland and beyond.”