Bolton University has announced a new initiative designed to make the North West of England "a centre for casual games development".
The university already offers a range of computer games design courses and has done since 2002. Launching this month, Casual Games North West will offer a range of "fully-funded business support packages", according to a statement, which will help games, new media and web companies in the region to secure a foothold in the market.
According to IGDA figures quoted by Bolton University, the casual games market was worth EUR 450 million - with that number predicted to rise to EUR 1.5 billion in the US alone by 2008.
"This project promises to provide critical support to the games industry in the North West of England. By focusing on the casual games sector, we will tap into the fastest growing sector of the games market," said Andrew Williams, academic leader for games at the university.
Senior lecturer Phil Carlisle added: "This is an ideal time for anyone considering entering games development because of the opportunities generated by new platforms and new methods of delivering content.
"This project will enable companies from all over the North West region to learn about and target these new markets."
Casual Games North West is being partially funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Creative Industries Development Service and the North West Development Agency. It's supported by regional trade body the Game Alliance.
Starting this month, CGNW will be contacting companies in the North West to establish interest. A networking event will then be held in May.