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Major survey to help West of England region capitalise on huge opportunities in gaming, animation and visual effects

Research will help identify strengths and needs of these thriving sectors following success of SouthWest VR Conference


A major piece of research is being undertaken to ensure the West of England region capitalises on the huge opportunities the future of gaming, animation and visual effects will bring.


The survey comes after the successful staging of the first SouthWest VR Conference, a national showcase which threw a spotlight on the world of virtual reality in film, games, TV and animation.


Set to become a major annual event in the industry calendar, SouthWest VR Conference attracted leading lights from the industry to Bristol on 24 February, with the line-up including Sony Computer Entertainment, Bossa Studios, Atlantic Productions’ Alchemy VR, Unity 3D, nDreams and Innerspace.


New innovations launched at the conference included the VRgo chair, a hands-free, wireless chair offering an improved VR experience with huge potential to shake up the gaming market and beyond. Joe Ryan, the inventor and founder of the VRgo chair, is based at the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol, the studio which also produced the highly successful AlphaSphere musical instrument.


The new survey, commissioned by inward investment agency Invest Bristol & Bath in partnership with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, is designed to identify the skills, training and recruitment needs in the games, animation and VFX (visual effects) sectors in the West of England.


The findings of the survey will create a more detailed picture of the skills and competencies of these industries, helping to attract further investment and greater business opportunities to the region.


Ben Trewhella, managing director at award-winning Opposable Games, which organised SWVR and is based in Bristol, said:  “The Bristol and Bath region is already becoming a global centre for virtual reality – the region hosts a growing number of experimental games and interactive developers, established TV, film and animation producers, a thriving developer scene with some of the UK’s brightest mobile app developers, and a background of engineering and entrepreneurism in chip design and product design – all the skills needed to create the next generation of consumer VR experiences and applications.


“We’re at the start of a hugely exciting time in technology – virtual reality and augmented reality games, experiences and applications are about to explode like the web, social and mobile before them.”


David Maher Roberts, digital sector specialist at Invest Bristol & Bath, said:


“The Bristol and Bristol region is in a prime position to capitalise on the huge opportunities advancements in gaming and virtual reality are expected to bring across a multitude of disciplines including entertainment, architecture and aerospace. The region’s thriving tech hub has the skills and experience, as well as the collaborative and innovative approach required to become one of Europe’s leading gaming and VR hubs.


“The region already has a world-class reputation for creative and digital production, high tech, and aerospace and advanced engineering. Only recently Bristol and Bath were named as being home to the largest digital cluster outside London in a new report by TechCityUK. The region has seen a 65% increase in new digital companies incorporated between 2010 and 2013 and was recently chosen to host a testbed for cutting-edge Future Cities technology, including driverless cars.


“This survey will help create a more detailed picture of the strengths and needs of gaming, animation and visual effects industries in particular, helping to further build the region’s reputation as a leading hub for technology and innovation.”



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