Scottish Development International (SDI), the investment arm of the Scottish government, yesterday opened a Shanghai office, with the aim of persuading mainland companies to follow the example of computer-maker Founder and invest in Scotland. 'China will be one of the most important geopolitical and economical centres in the world in the 21st century,' said Robert Crawford, chief executive of Scottish Enterprises, of which SDI is a part. 'Scotland needs to be strongly connected to China, to take advantage of the many opportunities to share growth.' SDI is focused on life sciences, financial services, digital media, energy, optoelectronics, microelectronics, and communications technology. Founder, one of China's top computer-makers, recently announced that it was setting up its European headquarters in Glasgow, making it the first mainland company to invest in Scotland, which has also attracted Taiwanese electronics manufacturers. 'As Chinese companies internationalise, they will look abroad. As a government agency, we will offer a free service to them,' Mr Crawford said. Since the decline of its traditional coal, steel and shipbuilding industries, Scotland has re-invented itself as a high-technology centre. It is home to 440 biotechnology companies, employing 24,000 people and accounting for 20 per cent of the bio-tech firms in Britain. It produces 7 per cent of Europe's semiconductors and 47 per cent of those produced in Britain, has 5,000 people working in opto-electronics, with annual output of #600 million (HK$7.5 billion), and 41,600 working in the electronics sector. Martin Togneri, senior director of international enterprises at Scottish Enterprises, said Founder had chosen Glasgow not for its financial or tax incentives but for its investment environment. 'It will not be a manufacturing facility but a European headquarters,' he said. Mr Crawford said Shanghai was like New York in the middle of the 19th century, in terms of its energy and entrepreneurial talent. SDI opened an office in Beijing in 1993, its first in China. 'Given our existing commitment to China and the number of exciting new prospects for China-Scotland connections, the time was right to establish an office in Shanghai,' he said. Scottish Development International (SDI) opened the office on the 31st floor of the Jin Mao Building as its Asian headquarters. The building is the venue of the Forbes Global Chief Executive Office conference, which began yesterday. SDI is one of the conference sponsors. SDI also has Asian offices in New Delhi, Seoul, Sydney, Taipei and Tokyo and will add one in Singapore later this year.