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LAUNCH Future Gaming & Digital Conference and events series

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About

Based in Birmingham, LAUNCH: Future Gaming & Digital Conference is the leading industry focused conference and series of events in the Midlands, run by Innovation Birmingham. The LAUNCH programme features expert speakers and demonstrations from games studios and service providers.

LAUNCH is big on business support and understands the hurdles involved when launching an idea and developing a business. Because of this LAUNCH works closely with Entrepreneurs for the Future (e4f) an onsite tech incubator at Innovation Birmingham dedicated to seeing tech businesses succeed. With this in mind LAUNCH created the following three themes which drive all the content behind its meet-ups and the feature conference:

• LAUNCH a Career – get into gaming
• LAUNCH a Business – creating a business that stands the test of time
• LAUNCH a Product – reaching and accessing new markets

LAUNCH celebrates the innovative work being carried out by gaming and digital start-ups and experts throughout the country. Showcasing the latest work from start-ups and established SME’s, LAUNCH aims to reinforce the talent capital of the Midlands by providing a unique opportunity to learn about latest industry trends and developments.

The LAUNCH calendar of events provides an opportunity for upcoming indie devs and studios to mix with gaming and technology giants to not only promote their games or products but to share and grow their industry knowledge and expertise.

Learn more about our community below in our news feed and by following us on twitter @Launchconf

LAUNCH Future Gaming & Digital Conference 2014 Storify
LAUNCH Conference delegation included 30 gaming and ICT professionals from across Europe

Innovation Birmingham’s fifth annual LAUNCH Future Gaming & Digital Conference attracted a large delegation of gaming and ICT professionals from across Europe. The delegation was facilitated by the BOO-Games project, which unites and promotes the gaming industry across nine countries in Europe.

Taking place at the Innovation Birmingham Campus, the focus of the first day’s conference agenda was ‘Grads In Games – Launch a Career’, which was run in conjunction with gaming recruitment specialist Aardvark Swift. The second day’s conference theme was ‘Develop Inspired’ to harness the burgeoning community of indie games developers located within the region and beyond.

In addition to the European delegation, LAUNCH attracted registrations from over 20 universities and colleges from across the UK. Over 300 people attended the two-day event, which showcased some of the biggest names in digital gaming.

Speakers included Lee Stott, Technical Evangelist for Microsoft UK; Kyle Jobson, Video Game Producer for Flix Interactive; Richard Semmens and Jafar Soltani of Microsoft Rare Studios; Helana Santos, Lead Programmer for Modern Dream; Jason Fielder, CTO of Exient; Chris Sterling of Worldweaver; Paul Norris, Creative Director of Mad Fellows; Charu Desodt, Senior Producer of Microsoft’s Lift London studio; Ant Thomas from Marketing Birmingham; Cliff Dennett, CEO of Soshi Games; and Trevor Williams, COO of Playground Games.

Pia Pearson, Digital Marketing Manager and Head of LAUNCH at the Innovation Birmingham Campus said: “The LAUNCH Conference and regular events programme is one of the largest activities of its kind for the UK’s digital gaming industry. This has been the fifth year for LAUNCH, and over that time we have delivered over 40 highly engaging events for the digital gaming industry, ranging from meet-ups and studio showcases, to the annual Meet The Games Press event and this – the flagship two-day LAUNCH Conference.

“Partners and sponsors such as Aardvark Swift, bluegfx, Boo-Games, Business Birmingham, Creative Skillset, Develop, Game Republic, Microsoft, TIGA, UKIE, and for the first time this year – Google, ensure the LAUNCH event series tackles the themes and issues that matter most to the industry.”

The universities that were in attendance for the ‘Launch a Career’ day included those with specialist digital gaming and computer science departments such as the University of Northampton, Staffordshire University, De Montfort University, University of Birmingham, and Birmingham City University.

The LAUNCH Conference provides delegates with an insight into the industry’s latest innovations, trends, online tools, computer games, mobile products and services. Delegates were able to get hands-on with cutting-edge technology via the interactive exhibition, which featured a dedicated showcase for gaming start-ups to demonstrate their latest creations.

Pia Pearson added: “The UK games industry is the second largest in the world after the US, and the West Midlands is home to 25 per cent of the country’s total games workforce.  This region has become a hub for games and digital media, with the Innovation Birmingham Campus being home to 18 games studios.”

Strengthening the UK Games Industry TIGA’s Proposals for the 2014 Pre-Budget Report

TIGA, the network for developers and digital publishers, said today that its agenda for the 2014 Autumn Statement would strengthen firms, industry and the UK economy. TIGA made the comments to coincide with the publication of its submission for the 2014 Autumn Statement. The Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, will make his Autumn Statement on December 3rd 2014. TIGA’s submission makes five key proposals:
1. A Prototype Fund should be made available to enable start-up studios to access finance and develop playable prototypes.
2. A Creative Content Fund (CCF) should be established in order to encourage new studio formation, stimulate creativity, new content development and IP generation. The CCF could make loans available to games businesses on a pound for pound, matched funding basis. Both the Prototype Fund and the CCF could be financed via the National Lottery.
3. An Export Tax Relief should be introduced to incentivise more small firms to export, thereby promoting export-led economic growth. The Export Tax Relief should be based on the existing Patent Box scheme and would entail a competitive tax rate (e.g. 15 or 10 per cent) on the profits generated from exports.
4. Regional/National Games Development Incubators should be established at a university or at a consortium of universities in each of the English regions and in each of the nations within the UK to enable more successful start-ups.
5. A pilot Training Tax Relief (TTR) should be introduced for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). TTR would operate in a similar way to the existing R&D tax credits and would enable SMEs to offset expenditure on training, Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for staff and education outreach activities against corporation tax.

TIGA envisages that both the Export Tax Relief and the SME Training Tax Relief would be cross sectoral in application in order to give the maximum boost to the UK economy.

Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, said:

“TIGA’s proposals will build up the strength, stamina, and sustainability of games businesses. Our programme also supports other sectors by incentivising training, enhancing higher education and stimulating exports. TIGA’s policy agenda will strengthen firms, industries and the UK economy.”

To read full report here > TIGA_Autumn Statement 2014

The Way Women are Portrayed in Video Games – We ask the industry in this entertaining video

Innovation Birmingham Campus based - WewanaPlay visited 'LAUNCH presents: Indie Showcase' evening meet-up this October, where they asked a number of game developers to share their thoughts on the way women are portrayed in gaming. The answers were quite entertaining! #Gamergate

For more information on WewanaPlay visit their website>

Creative England to support games developers in the West Midlands

Games companies across the West Midlands can now benefit from expertise and funding from Creative England’s GamesLab programme.
GamesLab, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supported by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF), is one of the first dedicated support schemes for the games industry by Creative England.

Established and emerging games developers can apply for grants from £10,000 to £25,000 for the development of a commercial game on console, desktop or mobile platforms. The programme of investment which includes funding, business support and business expertise is designed to aid and sustain the growth of the West Midlands burgeoning games industry through the development of innovative games and IP.

GamesLab is just one of Creative England’s activities to support the Games industry in England.Greenshoots, an England-wide programme jointly developed by Creative England and Microsoft to support early stage startup game studios, was also launched in 2013 and is currently shortlisting successful applicants. The next round of Greenshoots is due to launch later this year.

Creative England’s Head of Games & Digital Media, Jaspal Sohal, said: “We are passionate about seeing games come to life and businesses grow. Through the GamesLab programme we will be working with established and fresh games developers in the West Midlands to help them reach their commercial and creative potential.
“Creative England’s GamesLab has already committed £250,000 of grants to develop eight new games in the South West and we are delighted to now be able to support the exceptional talent in the West Midlands.”

Norman Price, Deputy Chair of the West Midlands ERDF Local Management Committee, said: “The West Midlands boasts a strong skills base in games development playing host to a number of leading development studios. This is backed up by some of the UK’s leading computer science courses being taught in our Universities. To sustain and build on this strength we need to ensure that existing businesses can access funding and expertise to aid growth and new businesses encouraged to get started.
“Through this programme the games industry will receive the right support that in the long term will help create new jobs and strengthen our reputation. I am pleased that ERDF funding can help make this happen.”

Dr Richard Wilson, CEO, TIGA, added: “TIGA believes that strengthening businesses and promoting economic activity in the regions is vital for the future long term health of the UK economy, so it is great to see Creative England rolling out its games support programme in another important region like the West Midlands.
“Given the difficulties that some games firms face in accessing finance, some public funding is important if we are to encourage more start-up studios and if we are to enable more small development businesses to succeed. Since the recession there has been a general recognition that the UK would benefit from stronger growth in the regions. GamesLab contributes to this strategic objective. It is good not just for the West Midlands but for the UK in general.”

Dr Jo Twist, CEO, Ukie, said: “The West Midlands is one of the most important games industry hubs in the country and it’s fantastic that Creative England has recognised this with its new GamesLab programme. There are lots of amazing businesses in the West Midlands that will really benefit from the extra funding and advice that the programme offers.
“We look forward to working with Creative England and the many games businesses in the Midlands to help ensure that the new programme is a great success and that it helps the wider UK industry to produce more world-class interactive entertainment.”

Creative England GamesLab is funded by the ERDF, supported by the RGF and led by Creative England.
Applications open on 27 February.
For more information and to apply, visit www.gameslab.uk.com and follow us on twitter at @CEGameslab

LAUNCH Future Gaming & Digital Conference 2013

A snap shot from two days at LAUNCH Future Gaming & Digital Conference 2013. A huge thank you to our Premier Sponsors: Microsoft, Aardvark Swift and Unity as well as our other partners and supporters who all helped make LAUNCH Conference 2013 a success.

Please view our storify here

Innovation Birmingham’s digital gaming ‘Launch a Career’ event is attracting students and graduates from across the UK

Innovation Birmingham’s fourth annual LAUNCH Future Gaming & Digital Conference will feature a ‘Launch a career’ day for the first time. Organised in partnership with gaming recruitment specialists Aardvark Swift, the event has attracted registrations from over 20 universities and colleges from across the UK.

The LAUNCH Conference takes place at the Innovation Birmingham Campus on Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd November, with the second day being the ‘Launch a Career’ event.  The first day carries the themes ‘Launch a Product’ and ‘Launch a Business’. Over 350 people will attend the two day event, which will showcase some of the biggest names in digital gaming.

Speakers include Craig Duncan, Head of Microsoft Rare Studios; Will Freeman, Contributing Editor of Develop magazine; Alex Zoro, Head of Development and Technology at Pixel Toys; Simon Barratt, Founder of Four Door Lemon; Ella Romanos, CEO of Remode Studios; Gary Dunn, VP of Franchise Business at Codemasters and Dr Jo Twist, CEO of UKIE (UK Interactive Entertainment).

Pia Pearson, Digital Marketing Manager and Head of LAUNCH at the Innovation Birmingham Campus said: “The LAUNCH Conference and events programme is one of the largest activities of its kind for the UK’s digital gaming industry. The calibre of our partners and sponsors illustrates the impact LAUNCH has across the UK; we’re thankful to Unity, Microsoft, Aardvark Swift, Business Birmingham, bluegfx, Autodesk and Develop magazine for supporting this initiative and enabling us to concentrate the focus of the digital gaming industry on Birmingham.”

The universities that will be in attendance for the ‘Launch a Career’ day include those with specialist digital gaming and computer science departments such as the University of Huddersfield, Staffordshire University, Hertfordshire University, De Montfort University and Birmingham City University.

The LAUNCH Conference will provide delegates with an insight into the industry’s latest innovations, trends, online tools, computer games, mobile products and services. Delegates will also be able to get hands-on with cutting-edge technology via the interactive exhibition, which will feature a dedicated showcase for gaming start-ups to demonstrate their latest creations.

Pia Pearson added: “The UK games industry is the second largest in the world after the US, and the West Midlands is home to 25 per cent of the country’s total games workforce.  This region has become a hub for games and digital media, with Innovation Birmingham Campus’ Faraday Wharf building being home to 18 games studios.

“As recently reported by Business Birmingham, almost four in ten of the SME tech firms which have experienced obstacles to expanding in London say they have missed out on new business because of this. LAUNCH enables us to bring digital gaming professionals and mobile app developers out of the capital to Birmingham to see how advantageous it could be to relocate their business here.”

Unique opportunity to be part of the next release from Microsoft Rare

Want to be part of the latest release from the Studio that gave us BAFTA-winning titles like Kinect Sports?

Rare has been running under their current name for 25 years, and previously as Ultimate their legacy stretches back further still. Established in 1985 to focus on the expanding console market, Rare partnered with Nintendo and sealed a reputation for quality with titles ranging from Donkey Kong Country to GoldenEye.

They continue to target top-tier development at their custom-built rural HQ in Twycross, Leicestershire. The boundless opportunities afforded by Microsoft's Kinect motion sensor are Their current source of inspiration, with the multi-million selling, double BAFTA-winning duo of Kinect Sports and Kinect Sports: Season Two already under their belts.

The Opportunity:

We have been lucky enough to be asked to help find individuals to take part in an exclusive focus group to test the latest game from Microsoft’s Rare studio.

Each person will be asked to be part of this unique group for four days in November, December or January and will to provide honest feedback with the intention of improving the forthcoming release.

The successful candidates

All applicants are welcome! Whether you are a gamer or not, if you’ve never played a game in your life it doesn’t matter, as long as you can be available for all four days you’re welcome to apply. You will need to have good verbal and written communication skills as well as be able to use Microsoft Word and Excel

 

For more information or to apply please follow the link below or contact jake@aswift.com

70th tech start-up enrolled onto Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future programme

The 70th innovative tech start-up has enrolled at the Entrepreneurs for the Future centre, based at Birmingham Science Park’s Innovation Birmingham Campus. The business incubation programme has been running for three and a half years, and to date the start-ups have secured over £2.2 million of investment during initial funding rounds.

Entrepreneurs for the Future is Innovation Birmingham’s flagship tech business incubation initiative, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The start-ups that the programme has incubated have created 140 new employee and director positions since November 2009.

The 70th tech start-up is Bear Labs; a newly formed company that is developing a social media dashboard to enable Twitter users to better engage with relevant followers. Through a combination of metrics, targets and advice, the product – called Yogi – identifies which followers to build strong relationships with, in order to create brand advocates.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “Entrepreneurs for the Future is now creating at least 25 new tech start-ups per year, strengthening Birmingham’s knowledge community with businesses with real growth potential.

“As a specialist incubator, we offer a personal programme of mentoring together with free office space, telecoms, meeting rooms and superfast broadband for the first six months. We actively support, promote and help deliver our entrepreneurs’ aspirations to bring their new tech products and services to market. Within the centre – and in the wider Innovation Birmingham Campus – we generate a wealth of opportunities to develop networks and contacts, aiding the businesses on the Campus, as well as providing a dynamic meeting point for Birmingham’s tech community.”

David Hardman continued: “The incubator model has enabled us to capture serial entrepreneurs – such as the team behind Droplet – who as individuals are working on more than one project concurrently. The Innovation Birmingham Campus is open 24/7, enabling people to work flexibly, or cram in the hours when needed. It’s a different approach to the Oxygen Accelerator, which was launched here with Mark Hales in 2011 and ran its first two programmes in conjunction with Entrepreneurs for the Future. With occupancy levels at the Campus now at 98 per cent, Oxygen has moved away from our Campus, but the two separate brands will continue to actively support Birmingham’s tech community through their different approaches.”

Stuart Bates, Founder of Bear Labs, Entrepreneurs for the Future’s 70th tech start-up said: “I first got to know about the support that was on offer at the Innovation Birmingham Campus when I attended meet-up events there, such as Mobile Monday and Tech Wednesday. The community spirit is contagious and I was really eager to be a part of it.

“I’m now in the early stages of developing ‘Yogi’, which is a dashboard tool to enable companies to engage with their Twitter followers more efficiently. The structured support and free office space is invaluable to a start-up, but the best bit is definitely being part of such a great concentration of tech entrepreneurs, all working side by side to make new businesses a commercial success.”

For more information on Entrepreneurs for the Future, please visit the Innovation Birmingham Campus start-up support page.

LAUNCH Presents: Mike Bithell

LAUNCH Presents: Mike Bithell, sponsored by bluegfx, had over 60 attendees come to the Innovation Birmingham Campus Conference facilities to hear Mike Bithell give a ‘from the heart’ presentation on his perspective of the Games industry to date, including a few tantalising hints about his new game (release date not announced)

Along with the many pizzas and beers consumed, delicious cupcakes were also enjoyed thanks to our cupcake sponsor; Frost and Snow. There were lots of new games tested and played in the Midlands indie dev exhibition in Faraday Street afterwards.

Our Storify provides an event snapshot with tweets, pictures and videos.