A national testbed for innovation in Dundee has triggered “significant” growth for the UK video games industry, according to a new report.

InGAME (Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise) R&D centre was established in 2018 by Abertay University, in collaboration with the University of Dundee, the University of St Andrews and industry partners.

The project is part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Creative Industries Clusters Programme, funded by the UK Government, and receives additional investment from the Scottish Funding Council.

A report from BiGGAR Economics published on Wednesday has shown the economic and societal impacts of the project, concluding that companies collaborating with InGAME are expected to generate an estimated £84.7m GVA for the UK economy over the 10-year period 2023-2032, with £55.3 million GVA and 115 jobs to be generated within the Tay Cities Region alone.

In its impact analysis, the report noted that for every £1 of UK public funding invested, InGAME is expected to generate a total of £15.90 GVA for the UK economy and stimulated £2.08 of R&D investment from industry partners.

InGAME launch event. Image: Alan Richardson.

InGAME’s goal was to prove the impact R&D can have on a city video games cluster, increasing scale and value in Dundee through product, service and experience innovation via:

  • collaborative applied research
  • video games cluster development support
  • innovation challenges

To date, more than 177 research projects have been funded through InGAME’s innovation voucher scheme and more than 2,200 games industry professionals and researchers have been upskilled through training and engagement activities.

A survey carried out by Interface showed that 76 per cent of companies that have worked with InGAME have developed one or more new games, products, services or original pieces of IP, with 72 per cent developing new tools or technology.

Director of InGAME Sean Taylor said: “The video games industry holds massive value for the UK but it is a sector that must keep up with the rapid pace of digital innovation and increasingly tough competition from overseas games development hubs.

Director of InGAME Sean Taylor. Image: Alan Richardson.

“Since its launch, InGAME has grown to become a convening power at the heart of the Dundee cluster, working with the region’s talented video game studios to address strategic challenges, unlock potential, and broker valuable new partnerships – both within the games industry itself and with wider UK industry.

“The success of the InGAME cluster underlines the creative, cultural and economic importance of our world class video games industry and demonstrates the value of AHRC’s sustained investment in the UK’s creative sector.”

AHRC executive chair Professor Christopher Smith said: “This impact report underlines the tangible value of cultivating an innovation ecosystem for each of the UK’s games clusters.”

Helen Cross, the Scottish Funding Council’s director of research and innovation, said: “These figures confirm the positive impact InGAME’s research and development has had on the UK games industry and on the economy of the Tay Cities Region.

“We’re proud to have been involved in the project from its earliest days and to be continuing to make an investment in its success.”

Abertay University says the impact of InGAME was instrumental in it securing preferred bidder status to host one of four new UK virtual production labs.

Funded through UKRI’s Convergent Screen Technologies and performance in Realtime (CoSTAR) programme, the Dundee lab will specialise in research and innovation for virtual production, a new cinematography technique that uses computer-generated imagery (CGI), LED screens and motion capture to create virtual movie sets.