AN American firm that has been developing products for use in monitoring HIV patients plans to create 126 jobs in Scotland.

Daktari Diagnostics has been awarded £2 million official funding to encourage the firm to open a base in the country.

While the location under consideration has not been confirmed, it is understood the Massachusetts-based company is focusing on the Highlands. Medical equipment maker Lifescan Scotland employs around 1100 people in Inverness.

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Scottish Enterprise said Daktari has not yet decided to proceed with the plan.

However, the company accepted an offer of £2m Regional Selective Assistance funding from Scottish Enterprise in the latest round of the official scheme.

Life sciences is one of a range of high growth industries that development experts are targeting in the hope of boosting growth in Scotland.

Another US life sciences corporation was also a big beneficiary.

Sigma-Aldrich was awarded £1.5m for investment in facilities in Irvine. The company expects to create 24 jobs in manufacturing products for the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries. Some people have expressed concern about public funds being used to attract potentially footloose foreign operations to Scotland.

However, David Smith, director of Innovation & Enterprise Services at Scottish Enterprise, said SE had made awards to organisations ranging from large-scale life sciences companies to home-grown talent offering new technologies.

He said: "RSA funding continues to be instrumental in bringing global companies to Scotland and Scottish companies to the rest of the world."

Edinburgh-based Adrok, which develops technology used to find oil and gas, won £180,000 support to create 15 jobs.

In other sectors Hutchison 3G UK accepted an offer of £1.8m funding to invest in sales and customer support facilities for the Three telecoms operation in Glasgow, where it expects to create 381 jobs. Scottish Enterprise awarded a total of £12,032,000 to 30 companies in the quarter to December. It said the funding will help create or protect up to 1274 jobs.

The agency said: "Daktari Diagnostics has accepted an offer of £2m in RSA funding, to be used in the event of the company deciding to establish a new Scottish base.

"We must stress that no decision to that effect has yet been made."