VIDEO game development is a highly creative activity. But it is a business too – the sector contributes more than £1 billion to the UK’s annual GDP – and the University of Huddersfield is in line for an award after providing expert guidance that will help talented newcomers turn their gaming ideas into success stories.
The University offers degree courses in computer games design and computer science with games programming. It is also home to The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Centre and an Enterprise Team that provides facilities and mentoring to undergraduate and postgraduates who seek to launch their own businesses.
Opportunities on offer include an Enterprise Placement Year enabling students to spend 12 months exploring, researching and planning their own business. Video game start-ups are among the projects to have taken advantage of this, leading to the University of Huddersfield achieving recognition as a Local Hub by the industry organisation UK Games Talent, established to help develop the games development sector.
It runs an annual talent competition titled Transfuzer. In 2017, this was won by Shuttershade Studios, started up by a team of Huddersfield graduates. They scooped £25,000 for their business. This year’s finalists include Gentlemen Worldwide, formed from games design graduates of the University of Huddersfield, most of whom did an Enterprise Placement Year as part of their courses.
Now, after nurturing these success stories, the University of Huddersfield has been named as one of the finalists in the Transfuzer Local Hub of the Year category at the new UK Games Fund Awards, launched by UK Games Talent. Winners will be announced at an event in Dundee on 14 November.
Shortlisting for the award came after the University’s Head of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Philip Clegg, drafted a submission that emphasised distinctive features of what was on offer from the Enterprise Team and its long term collaboration with the School of Computing and Engineering, to specifically develop opportunities for those exploring start-up in the gaming sector.
“We are unique in that most of the other hubs are located within schools of computing and engineering, but ours is located in our start-up incubator,” he said. “We have also built up connections with various funding organisations that support the gaming industry and we collaborate with established games companies and of course, our academic colleagues in the School.”
Mr Clegg added that two members of the currently shortlisted Gentlemen Worldwide games development company had taken part in the Enterprise Team’s Investment Readiness Programme, run with partners that include the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales and the accountancy firm Grant Thornton. The programme helps young entrepreneurs develop the skill they need to pitch for funding from potential investors.