A new strategy for growing the local games cluster and the wider digital creative sector has been launched by Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), in partnership with Ukie.
'The Games Industry in Coventry and Warwickshire - a Blueprint for Growth' highlights the cultural and economic contribution made to the region by the games industry and makes recommendations for how to grow the games sector in the area to benefit the wider digital creative sector.
Ukie have been working with CWLEP to produce the report, which directly responds to most of the ten pillars laid out in the government's recent industrial strategy white paper. In particular, it addresses the call to consider the best structures to support local industries, places and people, in order to maximise the UK's digital creative industry.
This is part of Ukie supporting the growth of games businesses across the UK. We very much want this to be blueprint for how other clusters can support the games and wider digital/creative industries and is an approach that we will look to replicate in other games clusters.
The report makes recommendations to support, promote and grow this local games sector to create more jobs and increase the highly skilled workforce that is needed to make the UK's world-leading games, unlock investment in the area, and celebrate games created in Coventry and Warwickshire as cultural artefacts. It is designed to be a blueprint for other emerging - and existing - games clusters across the UK to consider to maximise the impact of games on the wider digital economy.
The findings in the report include:
- The report found that there are around 130 games businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire, notably found in and around Leamington's 'Silicon Spa', where 2,000-2,500 full time employees work in 50+ of the UK's top games companies.
- Games jobs are highly skilled and productive jobs. The games industry in the West Midlands generated an estimated £224 million in GVA in 2015 – of which £188 million was from the ‘core’ of 50 firms clustered around Leamington, Southam and Warwick.
- The heritage and culture of Silicon Spa are a source of competitive advantage for the region. The cluster of games companies in the West Midlands has developed over more than two decades through a distinctive focus on quality and creativity. It is an outstanding example of developing regional economic growth through ‘smart specialisation’ in a sector that demonstrates clear advantages over its competitors in international markets.
- Games are an example of ‘digital manufacturing’, requiring and developing a blend of transferable 21st century skills. Making games is a fusion of art, design, programming, data analysis, science, maths – all skills transferable to other sectors. The process of developing games creates innovation in technology and tools for their manufacture – many of which are transferable to other sectors.
- The continued success of Silicon Spa should not be taken for granted. Whilst the macro economics of the games industry and its attraction to new entrants have never been healthier, it has never been harder for independent producers to create profitable new titles. The issues that face the games sector are complex and specific. Games businesses therefore need industry led and sector specific expertise and support.
The report makes recommendations to the CWLEP, local authorities, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the Midlands Engine, Westminster and Ukie to:
- Invest in specialist games sector support and development of an interactive media and digital manufacturing cluster
- Promote the heritage and culture of Silicon Spa as a source of regional competitive advantage; a distinctive digital manufacturing sector that also develops enabling technologies to catalyse growth in other priority industry sectors
- Underpin the supply of talent through a range of industry-led approaches to skills in schools, colleges and universities, building on evidence of international best practice
- Explore ways to use co-investment to unlock investment in new IP and growth
- Celebrate ‘games as culture’ as part of a story of cutting edge UK innovation, offering a stimulus to education, inward investment and the visitor economy
- Encourage collaboration between games businesses, universities and research institutes to build a supportive and forward looking climate for R&D and innovation across the region
- Encourage information sharing between councils, landlords and developers to ensure supply of a range of workspace across Coventry & Warwickshire to meet the diverse needs of existing businesses, start-ups and inward investors
- Work with internet service providers and the Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) to address shortcomings in the digital communications infrastructure that place businesses across Coventry & Warwickshire – and games companies in particular – at a disadvantage to other UK regions and to international competitors