NESTA unveils £450,000 fund to aid UK skills shortage

NESTA unveils £450,000 fund to aid UK skills shortage
Michael French

By Michael French

July 7th 2008 at 1:13PM

Money 'vital for helping the sector perform against global competition' will be spent on a variety of projects

UK science, technology and arts fund NESTA has revealed plans to spend almost half a million pounds to help curtail the games industry skills shortage.

Unveiled at an event in London today, the organisation has teamed up with TIGA, the University of Abertay's Dare to be Digital competition and Crossover Innovation Labs to put together a scheme called 'Raise the Game'.

The money will be used to pay for "practical interventions" to help UK games developers innovate and grow - these include the funding of "specific business development initiatives, the creation of an industry wide database to facilitate recruitment, cooperation and job swapping, funded internships, and public service commissioning of content".

'Raise the Game' is comprised of four strands:

- A mentoring programme which teams experienced business people up with small-medium games business in order to grow their business.

- A move to help ease the industry skill shortage by helping studios find talented recruits, implement staff share schemes and put 'job swaps' between complementary industries in place.

- Plans to nurture new innovative talent via intern placements at games studios using graduates from Dare to be Digital.

- And Crossover, a series of 'innovation labs' designed to encourage new collaborations and ideas for cross-platform content  and get games in front of content commissioners outside of the traditional games industry (such as Channel 4).

Each of these will be handled by and contributed to from a mix of different bodies including Tiga, Dare and Channel 4.

NESTA said the scheme was "vital for helping the billion-pound games sector perform successfully against global competition. The initiative builds on an already world-class creative talent base in the UK to help games SMEs achieve the commercial success their talent deserves."

NESTA, CEO, Jonathan Kestenbaum added: " Raise the Game is seeking to provide a means by which the industry can work together and draw from the enormous amount of creative talent currently available. This new programme will be instrumental in fostering creativity and building relationships throughout the games industry and beyond to ensure the innovation and growth capacities of UK companies are harnessed."

Richard Wilson, CEO, TIGA, added: “Skill shortages are a major problem for games developers, from Brighton to Dundee. I am delighted, therefore, for NESTA's support in providing a range of human resources solutions for the games industry, including the recruitment of staff, job sharing and job swapping. TIGA's project will help to ameliorate skill shortages, encourage knowledge transfer and facilitate innovation and so enhance the competitiveness of games businesses throughout the UK.”

Revolution's Charles Cecil, chairing this morning's discussion of the new fund, said that, with small-medium enterprises the focus of the scheme, NESTA's plan is perfectly targeted at independent developers:

"The UK has, over twenty five years, built a reputation as a global powerhouse for innovative games development. The advent of digital distribution has disrupted the traditional distribution methods, opening exciting opportunities for content creators to deliver their products to their audiences in innovative ways.

"Raise the Game is creating programmes to support developers to exploit their properties on a global level, work collaboratively with each other and with other entertainment mediums, and supporting young talent wishing to work in the games industry."

Check Develop later today for more details and reports from the NESTA event.