A SENIOR executive at software and analytics specialist SAS has outlined how pleased the company is with the progress of its Scottish operation.

Mikael Hagstrom, executive vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific, was in Glasgow to formally launch a research and development centre looking at ways to combat fraud and financial crime.

The US company employs 126 in the city already with the new facility, initially announced by First Minister Alex Salmond in April last year, expected to employ up to 94 over the next two to three years.

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Scottish Development International had already said it would provide £1.3 million in funding for the development.

Mr Hagstrom said SAS has moved onto a second floor on the Cuprum office in the city centre to accommodate staff growth. He says the billions of pounds lost to the UK economy through fraud provide a compelling case for firms to tackle the problem.

Mr Hagstrom said: "If we add a security agenda, not just in the public sector, but banks and financial institutions then we see a really large space we are growing into and the heart of that work will be done here [in Glasgow].

"The phrase that keeps coming back to me is 'water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink'.

"What we are trying to do is create that fresh water in a sea of saltwater as that is what analytics is all about. Some analysts say [big data] is the new oil but it is not going to be that unless you can tap it."

Products built in Scotland will be used for SAS's global clients with Mr Hagstrom highlighting the possibility of broadening out beyond the public sector and financial services. Mr Hagstrom also said SAS has been impressed by the Scottish talent pool.

He said: "The ICT skills, in particular in science technology, engineering, mathematics, statistics, and physics, are strong here.

"With the applied computer science classes that are available here it is the perfect place to do this work."