PRN: TIGA Calls for University Incubator Network to Strengthen UK Game Development Clusters, Drive Regional Growth and Lay Foundation for Sustainable Tech Success

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TIGA Calls for University Incubator Network to Strengthen UK Game Development Clusters, Drive Regional Growth and Lay Foundation for Sustainable Tech Success


LONDON, September 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

Latest TIGA proposal immediately backed by 10 universities and colleges 

TIGA, the network for games developers and digital publishers in the UK, proposed today that Regional and National Games Development Incubators should be established at universities in each of the English and UK national regions to enable more successful start-ups. These incubators would support both student and non-student creative enterprises and enhance the local connections between tech start-ups and academia. These connections are widely recognised as essential for sustained success in the global tech industries, as demonstrated by the likes of Cambridge's tech cluster and Silicon Valley in the US.

TIGA's own research demonstrates there has been a surge of start-ups over the last few years: 44 per cent of UK games companies were started up in the last two years. This new wave of small studios needs the support of a local, relevant business community, and close proximity to the brightest graduate talent, if they are to maximise their potential.

How the UK's University Game Dev Incubator Network would operate 

TIGA proposes that the network could consist of 12 universities - one in each of the nine English regions and one in each of the other UK national regions, or it could consist of a consortium of universities working cooperatively within each region.

Each university or consortium could be designated to provide a Regional/National Game Development Incubator (R/N GDI) for start-ups. This would enable them to benefit from accumulated expertise in research and enterprise, as well as access to skilled graduates.

The UK Government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive could select the relevant and appropriate regional and national universities via a competitive process. Universities would only be designated as Regional/National Game Development Incubators if they met key criteria relating to infrastructure, industry links and if there was sufficient regional/national demand or potential for growth.

Universities are well placed to provide incubators to start-up teams of students: they typically have the physical space, some development equipment and the IT support needed to support start-ups.

The twelve distributed GDIs would be open to both students and to non-student start-ups, but would encourage these start-ups to also approach external funders in order to make their ideas and businesses more sustainable. GDIs could liaise with Local Enterprise Partnerships, the Technology Strategy Board, and the EU - and where appropriate, the Scottish and Welsh Governments and the NI Executive - to access funding to commercialise start-up projects.

Establishing dedicated game development incubators in the Regions and Nations could help promote high technology video game clusters around the UK. Creative clusters of games studios have historically emerged across the United Kingdom including Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guildford, Leamington Spa, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, and Sheffield. North and South Wales have also seen spontaneous crea! tion of new clusters in recent years.

Other European countries are already providing concentrated support for start-ups. For example, the Dutch Game Garden,[1]  an initiative in the Netherlands, provides support for over 45 start-up game development studios. Similarly, the AppCampus, a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Espoo, Finland, provides funding, coaching and go-to-market support.[2]

Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, said:

"The formal designation of twelve Regional/National Games Development Incubators could help to produce new and more sustainable companies. The reputation of UK higher education would be enhanced, with participating institutions demonstrating strong support from the games industry and to the wider economy. This could serve to strengthen the appeal of the universities involved to overseas students as well. The reputation of the UK as a centre for game development would be given an important boost."

Jason Kingsley OBE, TIGA Chairman and CEO and Creative Director at Rebellion, said:

"The UK video games development sector operates in a dynamic global environment where new, fast-moving business models demand both flexibility but also the passing on of experience and expertise from existing businesses and establishments to fledgling indie games studios. The provision of twelve Regional/National Games Development Incubators at designated universities will help to achieve this objective. TIGA's proposal for designated Games Development Incubators will, if enacted, give a boost to games clusters, to regional growth and to higher education."

Timothy Barnes, Director of UCL Advances and UCL Enterprise Operations, said:

"TIGA's proposal to establish dedicated games development incubators in the Regions and Nations could help to promote high technology video games clusters around the UK.  Universities are well placed to help start-up companies, which will further strengthen higher education's links with industry. TIGA's proposal is good for start-ups, higher education and regional economic growth."

Dr. Mike Reddy FRSA, Course Tutor for the BSc Computer Games Development at the University of South Wales, said:

"South Wales has emerged from nothing in the last few years as a fast growing game development cluster, due to highly skilled graduates joining or forming start-ups, rather than Triple-A studios. This is due in part to mentoring by both Industry professionals and academic staff in the region. USW has always supported its students in achieving their ambitions, and a nationally recognised Game Development Incubator scheme would certainly be a valuable addition to the services provided by universities in ensuring their graduates are 'ready for work' in a rapidly changing creative industry. We would certainly throw our hat in the ring!"

Dr Mark Eyles, TIGA Educational Advisor and Principal Lecturer, School of Creative Technologies, University of Portsmouth  said:

"Support for the thriving creative clusters of game developers that continue to emerge throughout the UK needs to be a top priority for the government. This initiative will complement existing university incubation schemes and enable outreach to non-student start-ups. Being able to ensure that all start-ups have the best possible support through the dissemination of best practice will enable the UK's new wave of game developers to quickly compete on a global scale. Without this support new developers risk struggling with problems that were solved years ago!"

Dr Christos Gatzidis, Acting Framework Leader for Creative Technology, Bournemouth University, said:

"Incubator initiatives in higher education in the UK could provide a great platform for domestic games studio start-ups and it is important to see more dedicated support for these. At Bournemouth University, in collaboration with partners from Denmark, Malta, Spain and the Netherlands, one of them being the Dutch Game Garden, we have recently been awarded approximately 300,000 Euros from the EU under the Erasmus+ programme for GameBiz. This is a two-year project which will, amongst other activities, look into the creation of a framework/model for games development incubators within universities. More UK-driven support can hopefully be provided in the future for similar excursions and we support TIGA's call for this."

Mark Featherstone, Course Leader, BSc/MComp Game Software Development, Sheffield Hallam University, said:

"There is a move in the UK games industry towards embracing micro studios, indie developers mainly focused on mobile game development. These small studios are game idea reactors that will power the next generation of smash hit IP. By setting up incubator programs at selected universities we can provide the support that these vulnerable, emerging game development companies desperately need. The incubators will naturally become the locus around which many new businesses will grow and we certainly want to be part of that."

Professor Peter Cowling, Director of the ESPRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (IGGI),  said:

"The University of York is very well engaged with the UK games industry, particularly through the £12 million IGGI Centre for Doctoral Training, which will see 55 PhD students graduate over the next 8 years, many of whom will go on to join the games industry or start their own games companies. We have a good relationship with TIGA, and strongly support this initiative, particularly since we have seen first-hand some of the difficulties which our students have had to overcome in starting their own games businesses. Games are socially and economically important, and initiatives such as this continue to promote the UK games industry as a force for good."

Dr Patrick Dickinson, Senior Lecturer, College of Science, University of Lincolnshire, said:

"The proposed establishment of regional incubators is an excellent idea, which will help to create positive and constructive relationships between academic institutions and the games industry. The UK games industry has, for too long, been missing a way to help games students transition from the world of study to work. Co-locating business innovation with academic study will help bridge this gap, as well as providing opportunities for new companies to exploit research-led partnerships with these institutions. This can only contribute to the future growth of partnerships and innovation in the UK games industry."     

Mick Stockton, Principal Lecturer, School of Arts and Media, Teesside University, said:

"The industry has changed and needs a different kind of graduate. As outlined in the Brighton Fuse Report (2013), the industry requires "jacks of all trades and masters of one..." and this can only come from exposure to working practice. Incubators placed within universities are an essential means of providing this experience of industry to complement specific academic and sector knowledge enabling delivery of employees who are experts in their field yet flexible and robust for the many changes and challenges that face new and evolving workplace challenges.

"These incubators are also essential to supporting knowledge economy allowing small companies with very different skills to work together in relevant environments to achieve new and better things together. Innovation tends to exist in the spaces between specific sector skills and knowledge and incubators actively encourage these environments.

"We see this collaboration and innovation in action at Teesside University. Our long-established campus incubator and our Digital Fellowships programme supports talented graduates to set up and grow digital businesses. These graduates benefit hugely from co-location in an academic environment. We have also linked these new demands to our curriculum development with the Indie Games Development degree from the School of Computing which aims to produce graduates who fit this new profile required by industry."

Paul Durrant, Director of Business Development, Abertay University and Governing Body member of the National Virtual Incubator (NVI),  said:

"I've been involved in establishing and operating incubation-type support facilities for fledgling games companies since 1999 and it's clear to me that the UK needs the level of joined-up intervention proposed by TIGA. We must grow the volume of new IP creation in a greater number of early stage companies to maximise our chances of picking and nurturing the potential winners so that they secure success in international markets. Well-disciplined and properly resourced business incubation will help to sustain these start-ups and build them into UK companies of scale."

Lee Gilbey, Assistant Curriculum Manager of Computing and iMedia, North West Kent College, added:

"North West Kent College has seen a dramatic surge in applications for its Level 3 Diploma in Creative Media Production in Games Development, numbers increasing from 32 learners to 75 learners. We feel this rise is due to the increase in media coverage of the talent the UK has to offer, together with the news of Video Games Tax Relief and potential employment in the games industry, and the ease of access to develop and publish games. The biggest concern we have is the support for these learners to be able to successfully turn their fantastic creativity into reality.

"We fully support TIGA's proposal for both Regional and National Games Development incubators. We feel that having the strong support start-up companies need to establish themselves will generally lead to more opportunities for our learners to live out their dreams."

About TIGA   

TIGA is the trade association representing the UK video game industry.

We help developers and digital publishers build successful studios, network with the right people, save money and access professional business advice. We also have traditional publishers, outsourcing companies, technology businesses and universities amongst our membership.

TIGA is 90% funded by independent UK businesses. 80% of our board members are developers and/or from UK owned businesses, and 50% of our board are UK business owners themselves. Since 2010, TIGA has won 17 business awards.

TIGA focuses on three sets of activities:

Political representation

Media representation

Business services

This enhances the competitiveness of our members by providing benefits that make a material difference to their businesses, including a reduction in costs and improved commercial opportunities.

It also means our members' voices are heard in the corridors of power and positively represented in national, broadcast and UK video game trade media.  




Get in touch:
Tel: +44-(0)845-468-2330

For further information, you can also contact:  

Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO on: +44-(0)7875-939-643, or email:
Drew Field, TIGA Communications Director on: +44-(0)7720-643-344, or email


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