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29 October 2019

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Government places Guildford and Aldershot gaming cluster on international stage

The ‘Hollywood of video games’ set in the EM3 region is to benefit from international recognition and investment under the Government’s High Potential Opportunity programme because of its strengths and capacity to grow.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) will promote overseas the gaming industry cluster, based in and around Aldershot and Guildford, in a bid to attract foreign investment.

"The area covered by the Enterprise M3 LEP – from the edge of London through west Surrey and into mid and north Hampshire - is characterised by a large number of relatively small but generally economically successful towns, the largest of which has a population just over 100,000. The vitality and ongoing viability of these towns will be fundamental to continued economic success. So supporting towns across the area will be a central feature of the emerging local industrial strategy through a combination of skills and infrastructure enhancements and interventions to support the most important economic sectors.

In that context, the EM3 area has secured recognition under the DIT High Potential Opportunity programme for the area colloquially knows as the ‘Hollywood of video games’ in the travel to work area focused on the towns of Guildford and Aldershot. The HPO highlights a number of strengths for the EM3 economy in the context of developing immersive technology and its application, including in the aerospace, automotive, space, healthcare and professional service industries.

Guildford alone has over 30 years of history in the games industry. Now, more than 1,500 people - 10% of the UK games industry workforce - are employed in 70-plus games businesses in the Guildford and Aldershot area, generating a £1.7m turnover per employee and generating £3.4 billion per annum in GVA.

This is a major asset for EM3 and for the UK. The UK gaming sector market is set to grow from £5.7bn in 2018 to exceed £7bn by 2021. 

Building on the presence of firms which are already showcasing the relevant expertise, and the knowledge and innovation being supported by world leading institutions such as the 5G Innovation Centre based at the University of Surrey, the HPO programme will demonstrate the opportunity for immersive AR/VR content creation and technology development in the EM3 area promoted and enabled through a set of mutually reinforcing interventions addressing issues such as affordable housing, infrastructure and the supply of skills which will make it an even more attractive destination for inward investment.

 The knowledge base which is firmly embedded in the EM3 area presents a major opportunity for investors given the gamification techniques, story-telling expertise, immersive content development experience and user engagement knowledge which has been developed.  

For future investors the core offer is that they can establish themselves in an area with both immersive technology development partners and the wider industrial partners that will take advantage of these solutions."

Kathy Slack,Enterprise M3 chief executive

Kathy’s words were first published in ‘Trends in foreign direct investment in the UK’s towns’ EY Attractiveness Survey October 2019. Kathy was invited to contribute to the report which analyses where Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been distributed in towns and cities across the UK.

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