Dunedin’s Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) has announced a new funding programme for Dunedin’s game development community, which is worth $700,000. The money for the funding is being drawn entirely from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund.
Dunedin was confirmed as New Zealand’s new Centre of Digital Excellence in October last year and will act as a national hub to support the development of a $1 billion video game industry over the next ten years. It was backed by $10 million from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, from which the funding is being drawn.
Dunedin City Mayor, Aaron Hawkins, says he is delighted with the scope and timing of the funding programme, which opens on Tuesday 23 June for expressions of interest.
“This is a real boost for Dunedin at a time when we are experiencing, like the rest of the country, some very real economic pain and challenges. CODE’s funding programme provides some tangible opportunities to develop the kind of low weight, high value exports that can support a sustainable economic recovery”.
CODE Working Group and New Zealand Game Developers Association Board member, Tim Ponting, says current economic conditions created through the COVID-19 crisis brought the timing for developing and launching the funding programme forward.
“Grants were included in CODE’s business case and scheduled to follow CODE’s establishment period, which is currently in its final stages. However, it made sense to bring them forward given the current economic challenges and the team have worked really hard over the last few weeks to do this. The funding programme is a fantastic opportunity to support the local industry and help stimulate the local economy”.
Mr Ponting said game development, as a ‘weightless export’ and rapidly growing industry both nationally and globally, provided Dunedin with an excellent opportunity to grow existing studios, develop new ones and provide employment to people from a broad range of backgrounds - from coders, artists and designers, to business analysts and marketers.
“This is a really exciting industry to be part of and it’s still growing, in spite of the current challenges. It also provides an opportunity for Dunedin to build on its key strengths around education and health - including the hospital rebuild - through the development of serious games. It’s worth noting that some of the technology used to support alternative ways of working during COVID-19 - such as messaging app Slack - had their origins in the game development industry.”
He said there are three funding types available as part of the programme - KickStart, Start Up and Scale Up.
“The KickStart and Start Up funds open now, while the Scale Up fund will become available later in the year. I strongly encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible for one of these funds to go to the CODE website and check out the criteria and to get in touch with us if they need further information or support to make an application. We’re here to help every step of the way.”
The funding programme is part of the overall effort to build an ecosystem for game development, with strong local roots growing from schools and tertiary networks, and nurtured with funding and wrap-around mentorship, for new, young or growing companies. Further funding programmes will be available in subsequent years, Mr Ponting said.
The first stage of the application process requires the submission of an expression of interest by 14 July. For more information on the different funds and application process can be found at www.dunedinnz.com/code/code-funding