The Black Watch tartan has given way to the Black Watch play as a symbol of the modern Scotland Alex Salmond wants to project to North America.

With a focus on modern culture, business and brainpower at Scotland's universities, the First Minister has revamped the Tartan Week programme built up over recent years by his predecessors. Yesterday, he announced the tartan theme had been dropped in favour of a more direct approach to branding, with the programme of events to be known as Scotland Week.

It won the backing of Sir Sean Connery, a regular participant at previous celebrations.

Research for St Andrews House found that recent years' celebrations of Scottishness - based around the 6 April anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 and designated Tartan Day by the US Congress - should look to more opportunities outside New York. It also found the talk of tartan was lost on many Americans who are not aware of its link with Scotland.

Meanwhile, modern Scottish culture has enjoyed a considerable international boost by acclaim for the Black Watch play staged in New York and Los Angeles by the Scottish National Theatre. The production is scheduled to return to the States later this year.

While the week-long programme's budget is down from £700,000 last year to £400,000, much of the kitsch is also being banished.

The Dressed to Kilt event, a fashion parade of New York tartan at which Jack McConnell won ridicule for wearing a pin-striped designer kilt, is being moved to October, when young Scottish designers can compete to take part in this showcase during New York fashion week.

Mr Salmond will take part in the Tartan Day parade down New York's Sixth Avenue on Saturday 5 April, but the focus of the rest of the week is to move to business opportunities and building academic links, while spreading the national marketing message more widely.

Mr Salmond is to give speeches at Harvard University near Boston, the University of Virginia and to visit the National Geographic Society to talk about Scotland's renewable energy potential. He is not scheduled to meet Donald Trump, who met Jack McConnell and is behind a controversial planning application in Mr Salmond's Aberdeenshire constituency.

The First Minister's programme involves exploring bio-science opportunities with American companies. Explaining the new approach yesterday, at the annual forum in St Andrews of the Scottish Council Development and Industry, he highlighted the potential for Scotland to promote its leading edge as a focus for testing drugs, where researchers can make use of the nation's unrivalled archives of health data.

"Bio-technology is going to be one of the big growth industries of this Scotland," he said. "For Scotland to have an edge in such technology is really important. We do many drug tests in Scotland now. I think we should do more."

Mr Salmond told his business audience the international marketing message needs to confront the lack of a reputation for Scotland as a centre for innovation.

"Despite the fact we are innovative, and the research papers show we're doing great things, we have to establish that and brand Scotland as a place for innovation," he said. "The way to do that is through links with the great academic institutions."

He is one of three ministers covering seven cities in the US and Canada. Culture Minister Linda Fabiani is to be in New York, Washington and Toronto, taking in a visit by Scottish Youth Theatre to stage its production, When a Star Falls.

Enterprise Minister Jim Mather is visiting the Pacific coast and Texas, including Microsoft headquarters and promoting Aberdeen's oil business in Houston and Austin.