Culture Minister Ed Vaizey trumpets city’s creative and digital sector

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has been in Liverpool today getting to grips with the city region’s creative and cultural sector as part of IFB 2014’s Creative & Digital Week.

The minister toured the IFB Hub where me met a series of regional gaming companies at the UKIE Showcase and took part in a panel discussion which was part of the Digital Gaming – Internationalising UK Talent programme organised by the UKTI.

Of the city’s digital sector and how government can support it, the minister said:

“We’re doing a hell a lot to help the video game industry. We’ve introduced a tax credit for video games, which means we’re now one of the most competitive places in the world if you want to invest in video games. That’s the big win we’ve worked very hard to get through.

“We also have a range other ways to invest in video games, whether it’s the Enterprise Investment or the RND Tax Credit. We’re investing in skills, so we’re one of the first countries in the world to put computer science, programming into the school curriculum. We’re also investing in skills as people move through the pipeline from further education to university.

“Thirdly, of course, we have UKTI doing an amazing job of highlighting the cluster of video game companies in the UK, particularly in the North West, and encouraging them to base themselves here and take advantage of the massive talent pool that exists in this part of the UK.”

When asked whether he would visit more of the city’s companies in the future, he said:

“Yes, I’m always coming up to Liverpool for many different reasons. I think it’s a very important point to make that Liverpool and Manchester sitting side-by-side is a cluster of two very powerful cities.

“In my role as the Minister for the Arts, another reason I often visit Liverpool is for the national museums and the Tate gallery. Liverpool is a great place to live and to work, so if you’re thinking of basing yourself here or want to grow your business, you’ve got to think of the people who are going to work for you, relatively young people who really want to take advantage of the fantastic cultural opportunities that exist in the city. You’re never at a lack of things to do if you come up to Liverpool.”

Finally, in response to the Mayor’s establishment on Tuesday of a new Creativity and Innovation Commission which will review ways the city can maximise the potential of the industry, the minister said:

“Well, I know Phil very well, so my first piece of advice is to do whatever Phil tells you to do. He’s a great creative and cultural powerhouse of Liverpool, he’s passionate about this city, as is the Mayor. They both care hugely about Liverpool and want to the best for the city, and therefore those who want to live and work here. I think the fact that Phil has been put in charge of this commission shows just how serious local government in Liverpool takes creativity and culture as being at the beating heart of this incredible city.”

Among the companies the minister met, Liverpool-based Ripstone caught the minister’s eye. Phil Gaskell, creative director and co-founder said:

 “As a games publisher we’re proud to collaborate with the very best of the UK’s talent and help them launch their games. It was great to demonstrate PlayStation Vita games like Table Top Racing, developed by Liverpool-based Playrise Digital, to the minister who was very keen to understand how a British company like Ripstone is exporting digital technology to all corners of the globe.”

The minister’s tour later took him to the Studio School in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle which was hosting an event with Liverpool’s ‘girl geeks’ which has the stated mission of “to gather a community of ladies of all generations in the city engaged with and inspired by technology, gaming, design, programming and digital.”

Liverpool Vision’s Kevin McManus said:

“The sector is a key economic driver in the city and the more champions it has in the corridors of power, the better for the city, the companies and the many people they employ.”

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