Updated: Nov 12, 2021

The Creative Catalyst launches new games-development programme to drive growth and resilience

Indielab, the business-growth accelerator that seeks to promote a sustainable and resilient content sector in the UK, has today opened the application process to the inaugural Indielab West Yorks Games Accelerator. The programme, which supports games developers across West Yorkshire, is delivered in partnership with Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP).

The application process is open to 10-to-15 early and mid-stage games companies headquartered in West Yorkshire. The programme — a first for the region — has been designed to facilitate and accelerate the growth of West Yorkshire’s burgeoning games sector. It will support the region’s pool of innovative games developers by helping them to leverage their value proposition, fine-tune their business vision and explore specific growth opportunities.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire said: “A recent Government report revealed the digital industry in Yorkshire is the fastest growing in the UK and indicated the digital tech sector is likely to create thousands of jobs by 2025. The games sector has an expanding role in this growth providing innovative opportunities for young people to explore a range of diverse careers and this superb initiative, which we are proud to support, further strengthens this growth. In addition, the cross-sector knowledge share the programme enables, across content production businesses in tv production and gaming, is an excellent way of building a connected and more buoyant ecosystem.”

Curated in partnership with industry leaders, with support from the Ukie (Association for UK Interactive Entertainment) and key organisations across the games sector. The Games Accelerator will include masterclasses delivered by experts including well-respected industry facilitators Oscar Clark and Ella Romanos, and speakers drawn from across the publishing, platform, streaming, investment, legal and financial sectors, include the founders of several leading games studios including Phil Mansell of Jagex, Saad Choudri at Miniclip and Patrick & Tamsin O’Luanaigh from nDreams.

Funded by the LEP, the Games Accelerator will be produced by the Indielab team, which specialises in delivering growth accelerators for content creators. Since its foundation in 2015, Indielab’s programmes have been attended by more than 200 creative entrepreneurs, delivering on average an increase in growth of £450k per company across the following 18 months.

The Games Accelerator will deliver targeted modules over a five-month period, commencing in February 2022. The programme will include masterclasses and seminars to help cohort companies to consolidate fundamental areas which drive decision making for games teams. Participants will be provided with a bespoke growth programme and expert advice on the key success factors for games-company growth. Seminars and masterclasses will address a range of issues, including delivering value for players, bringing a game to market, the role of data, creativity and leadership techniques, company culture and forging lucrative partnerships.

A focused investment-readiness strand will culminate in an investor pitch, for project investment or equity, open to all participants — an event that has historically delivered a 20% conversion rate across the Indielab’s cohorts, delivering numerous investment deals for creative businesses.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said: “Small game development studios are central to a healthy games ecosystem. Initiatives such as Indielab provide them with the kind of support that can help them create sustainable and thriving studios capable of creating high value jobs across West Yorkshire.”

The Games Accelerator is one strand of West Yorkshire’s The Creative Catalyst, a wider programme of support that not only demonstrates the LEP’s commitment to the creative industries, but delivers on one of West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin’s key pledges: Lead a Creative New Deal to ensure the region’s creative industries are part of a broader recovery strategy.

Victoria Powell, Indielab’s founder and programme director, said: “Typically, companies that attend our accelerators add an average of £450,000 to their revenue in the following 18 months, and through our investment readiness and investor pitch events many of our cohort go on to secure investment. We’re really excited about enabling this growth for the games sector in West Yorkshire and working with partners from across the industry to help supercharge the potential of the region’s local studios. West Yorks is home to one of the UK’s top 10 games hubs and it’s a sector that’s growing rapidly. However, the picture for small developers is tough and there’s a real need to support emerging studios. For the region’s games companies, this is a fantastic opportunity to access masterclasses, seminars, contacts and market insight that will really help them grow their businesses.

The UK market for video games reached a record £7bn in 2020 — an increase of +29.9% from 2019 and beating 2018’s previous record by more than £1bn. Ukie’s annual games market valuation shows software revenue grew +18.% to £4.55bn, with increases across both digital and physical sales. Game hardware saw a record year, with consumers kitting themselves up with new consoles, accessories and upgraded PC game components, driving hardware revenues up +60.8% year on year to reach £2.26bn.

In tandem with the Games Accelerator, Indielab West Yorks will run a simultaneous, TV-specific accelerator initiative. This will enable a handful of events to merge, facilitating the exploration of growth opportunities in IP cross-fertilisation between TV IP and games.

Criteria for applications

· The Games Accelerator is open to games and immersive storytelling companies based in West Yorkshire.

· The TV Accelerator is open to TV indies based in West Yorkshire, along with animation and film companies working in television.

Key dates:

Friday, 19 November: applications close

Apply now –