The first ever Guildford Games Festival was a resounding success with hundreds of people attending and standing-room only at packed seminars.
The three-day event in June shone the spotlight on Guildford as the UK’s ‘Hollywood of Games’.
Enterprise M3 LEP was a proud supporter of the event, providing £5,000 of funding for ‘Industry Day’ which was also supported by University of Surrey/G3. Expert speakers from the LEP, including Assistant
Director – Delivery, Rob Dunford and Growth Hub Director, Roya Croudace, gave presentations on the day.
Rob highlighted how the Enterprise M3 region has 33 years of gaming history and that in 2017, there were more than 70 videogame development studios, and 4,030 games were released.
More than 1,500 people - 10% of the UK games industry workforce - are employed in 70-plus games businesses in Guildford itself, generating a £1.7m turnover per employee and £3.42 billion GVA.
The UK gaming sector market is set to grow from £5.7bn in 2018 to exceed £7bn by 2021. The fastest growing UK market is immersive tech (34% annually) followed by eSports (21% annually). The average gaming salary in the UK is £34,200 compared to the average £26,500, and the sector turnover from exporting is 64%.
Rob gave an overview of the LEP’s investments in Guildford
He said: “It came through earlier in the day that access to affordable housing and a supply of talent are critical considerations for the future of the sector and so I was able to say what the LEP has already been doing or was planning to do in that space.”
Rob also highlighted how the LEP saw great benefit for Guildford and the entire Enterprise M3 region in supporting the Games sector, and that the £10m Funding Escalator is an attractive
funding stream to gaming businesses, particularly start-ups who flagged access to finance as a concern earlier in the day.
Roya Croudace spoke about ‘business support for the games industry’ particularly Guildford Business Growth, a free-of-charge dedicated business advice service available to all business in the borough.
It is delivered by Enterprise M3 LEP and Umi on behalf of Guildford Borough Council, and includes web chat, telephone advice with business advisers, face-to-face one-hour clinics with a business specialist and workshops dedicated to helping businesses grow.
She said: “An incredibly important part of what we do isn't just helping to create clusters, but also cross-fertilisation across sectors.”
The festival included consumer engagement activities, workshops, an expo, business networking, an awards evening, a charity fundraiser event and lots of interactive fun.
Guildford MP Anne Milton, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, opened the Festival.
Students and jobseekers were given advice on how to write the best CVs for getting into the games industry and offered an expert review of their portfolios.
Photo shows Rob Dunford presenting at the Guildford Games