A major Scottish IT industry body has outlined a strategy aimed at driving growth in the current tough economic climate.

The Information and Communications Technologies Industry Advisory Group (ICTIAG) said that with the new strategy it wanted to make sure Scotland “gets more than its fair share” of the “highly attractive” IT market. The strategy was developed by businesses, government and academics in Scotland.

Scotland would aim to grow its influence in the IT market, ICTIAG said, by linking together different parts of the industry. ICTIAG represents a cross-section of Scotland’s ICT industry, and is part of Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s main non-departmental government investment body. The strategy is supported by trade body ScotlandIS.

As ICTIAG launched the strategy, it said: “International competition is fierce and so a well-coordinated approach between private industry, educational institutions and the public sector is vital.”

The strategy calls for five key areas to be addressed. Firstly, ICTIAG said the rate of “internationalisation” of Scotland’s IT industry needed to be increased, by encouraging a global mindset and attracting foreign businesses to set up offices there. Secondly, more product manufacturers needed to be in place, encouraged by developing sales and distribution skills.

Access to capital for startups was vital, and needed to be improved, it said. In addition to this, the industry needed to drive more commercial innovation, and people with key IT skills needed to be attracted and retained in Scotland.

The Scottish ICT sector currently employs 48,000 people mainly in small to medium sized businesses, ICTIAG estimated, with an additional 60,000 working in end user organisations in finance, life sciences, energy and other key sectors. It contributes around £3.4 billion a year to the economy.

Gerry Docherty, the software entrepreneur behind Real Time Engineering – one of Scotland’s largest IT companies – is chair of ICTIAG. As he launched the strategy, he said: “Our vision is that Scotland will have a reputation as one of the most active and fast growing locations for ambitious high-growth ICT companies globally.”