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Ukie unveils new plan to boost West Midlands games sector

A two-year funded program will be put in place thanks to Coventry and Warwickshire LEP

UK's games trade body Ukie today announced a new two-year funded program with the help of Coventry and Warwickshire LEP to grow the West Midlands games sector, "building on the success of the cluster and promoting the heritage and culture of 'Silicon Spa' in the surrounding Leamington Spa area."

The news came today at Ukie AGM, held at Gamer Network's popular EGX event. The program has the support of local authorities, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and the Midlands Engine, and it includes the appointment of a dedicated staff member to oversee "industry-specific investor ready training courses, providing opportunities to bring together investors and local businesses, as well as inbound and outbound trade missions." Ukie will do its part by leading a steering group to make sure the program continues to serve the interests of the sector and by connecting it with its overall national strategy to support games development across the UK.

Sarah Windrum, CWLEP Board Director and Chair of West Midlands Digital Group, said, "On behalf of Coventry and Warwickshire LEP I want to thank Ukie for all their support highlighting the significant economic value of our digital creative sector to the region. Coventry & Warwickshire are perfectly placed to lead this programme which will drive growth for our gaming cluster and our wider digital manufacturing sector across the West Midlands."

In addition to the new funded program, Ukie's creative computing initiative, Digital Schoolhouse, powered by PlayStation, introduced a new 'Red Tier' industry sponsorship package in an effort to gain the support of more game companies. Sega and Warwickshire County Council (WCC) have already announced their support for the program. The Red Tier offers more flexibility as it enables companies to support the Digital Schoolhouse project without making a commitment to partner with a school - the hope is that this tier will attract smaller games businesses with a smaller financial impact.

John Clark, Executive Vice President of Commercial Publishing for SEGA Europe Ltd, commented, "Sega Europe has a history in working with educational organisations in order to help bridge the skills gap in the UK with regards to the video games industry. The partnership with the Digital Schoolhouse Programme is particularly exciting as it aims to engage the next generation of school children, and their teachers, with the new computing curriculum."

Other notable news from Ukie's AGM at EGX in Birmingham included a renewed partnership between Ukie and the VSC Rating Board and the appointment of Helen Burnill, Commercial Director of Mediatonic to a new role on the board, joining Phil Mansell, CEO of Jagex, and ZeniMax Europe's Sean Brennan, as the two new appointed board members in 2017.

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