Knowledge is key for Dundee as city listed in intelligence award

DUNDEE has been declared one of the world's "most intelligent" cities by a global think-tank.

The city has been named on a shortlist of the top seven "intelligent communities of 2007" by the Intelligent Community Forum, for transforming itself over the past 15 years from a city "in terminal decline" to one with a vibrant digital knowledge-based economy.

Judges from the non-profiting making US forum highlighted the Scottish city's success in tripling its number of "knowledge workers" to 6,300 in three years, almost doubling its number of knowledge businesses and having achieved full broadband coverage in 2006.

"Intelligent cities" are chosen on five permanent indicators each year - use of broadband technology, the knowledge workforce, innovation, digital inclusion and marketing.

One floating factor is thrown into the mix, with this year's criterion being leadership.

Gary Langlands, chairman of Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, said: "Beneath the veneer of jute, jam and journalism lies a thriving research and development company involved in areas such as bioscience, nanotechnology, software research and digital technology.

"Students we attracted to Dundee are also now often taking up employment in IT industries when they graduate."

Jim Piggot, chief executive of Dundee-based TPLD, a company which uses games technology to develop leadership and corporate development skills for businesses, said new technology had allowed him to employ more IT workers in the city.

"We've gone from six to 20 employees in the past year. Everyone of my staff is a graduate of Abertay University and they have a range of creative degrees such as games design, computer art and psychology.

"We've always aspired to be a global company, and technology allows smaller companies such as ourselves to compete in a cost-effective way."

Dr David Sloan, of the department of applied computing at the University of Dundee, said the university had been taking computing skills out to the community, which would have helped secure the city its nomination.

However Dundee residents had mixed views on the nomination. Ross Middlemiss, 22, an admin worker said: "I don't believe it. It's complete hyperbole. There's no form of intelligent life in Dundee, myself included."

John McDonald, 37, of Acanthus Florists, said: "I'm slightly surprised. I think people might ask, do you mean Dundee, Scotland or Dundee, Australia? Really, it reflects the diversity of Dundee. We have two universities and a lot of research into bio-technology and the like.

"My business uses the internet, we have broadband and do lots of sales online. I would describe myself as a technophobe but it's very easy."

Bob Dyer, 43, of Perth Road launderette, said: "We use the internet in our business and are expanding into new premises, which will have broadband. We'll use it to take contracts and do same-day pick-ups and deliveries from offices."

Also competing for the award, to be announced in New York in May, are Ottawa and Waterloo in Canada; Isssy-les-Moulineaux, France; Sunderland; Tallinn, Estonia; and Seoul, South Korea.

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