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UKIE initiates £100,000 fund for digital coalition

Trade body puts up to £30,000; teams with TIGA and wider digital industries

UKIE has kick-started a £100,000 fund to raise awareness, promote and improve the digital industries in the UK.

The trade association has stumped up £30,000 so far and is teaming with the full support of developer body TIGA - a group that has in the past declined to work with other games bodies.

NESTA, eskills, The Frame Store, Blitz Games and crucially the Department of Culture Media & Sport are on board, but the Department of Education has so far been reluctant to get involved.

"We decided to get some very quick seed funding together which UKIE has put their hands in their pockets for, mainly from the old-fashioned publishers," revealed UKIE chairman Andy Payne, at the Develop Conference in Brighton today.

We need to understand, respect, applaud and invest in digital business. Otherwise we will be the washer-uppers for the rest of the world

"There's £30,000 allocated and there's going to be up to £100,00 over the next 18 months. We're serious about this, we're not going to fund it on our own, but let's get it done and worry about money afterwards. We can't hang around here, the clock is ticking."

"The key department that hasn't been engaged, and is doing a bloody good job of trying to be disengaged, is the Department of Education," added a frustrated Payne.

The move has come off the back of the submission of the Livingstone Hope Review, released back in February but which still hasn't received a response from the government. Payne said he's expecting a proper reaction in September and will continue to press the government for feedback.

"It's my job to hold the politicians to account. As an industry we've been let down by our politicians," he said, referencing the withdrawal of promised tax breaks.

"That's a big blow for the British games industry and something we need to get back somehow," he added. "We need to join up, we need to make sure that we've got a concerted strategy in order for politicians to understand what we do. We've got to be a bit smarter so the key thing is coalition.

"It's about working with other industries, starting close with the two trade associations, and the broadening it out to the VFX industry, for example. And then looking across and bringing as many people as possible to go to the politicians and put together some policy.

"Digital engineering and digital manufacturing are real, and if we do not understand those we need to understand them, we need to respect them, we need to applaud them, we need to invest in them. So that we can compete with the rest of the world, otherwise we will be the washer-uppers for the rest of the world."

Despite the promising early signs of support, Payne appealed for more companies and individuals to come forward to bolster the ranks, helping to bring digital business to the attention of the government, improve education and technology training amongst graduates and push the UK as a world leader.

"I would appeal to all the members of UKIE and all the members of TIGA to at least be part of this so we can put more names on the sheet. If we can replicate that in different industries then we will have something that they will have to take notice of."

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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