The first wave of funding has been granted to seven Dunedin start-up digital game developers and is expected to create jobs and help grow a $1billion video game industry for New Zealand.
The funding, worth $450,000, is a part of the $10million allocated to Centre of Digital Excellences’s (Code) from the Provincial Development Unit (PDU) to establish, grow and support the Dunedin game development ecosystem.
Of the seven successful applicants, who were narrowed down from the 24 applications received, two applicants received Start Up funding which offers $50,000 to $150,000 per applicant.
The Start Up fund is aimed at experienced game developers wanting to branch out to work on their own game idea.
Five applicants were awarded Kickstart funding, ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 each.
It is for Dunedin-based game developers who have a proposal that needs further funding or external investment to develop into a prototype.
That funding is expected to create up to five new studios and potentially 12 new jobs.
There were 56 expressions of interest to the Kickstart and Start Up.
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said the funding was a step in achieving Code’s aim to grow a $1billion video games industry working from a Dunedin base, and maximise economic and social outcomes.
“It will encourage the development of new businesses, new studios, and new jobs, while growing the community of skilled digital game developers in the city.”
Code Establishment director Tim Ponting said there were strong localised themes among the successful applications, including the natural environment to support tourism and conservation, Maori partnerships, sustainability, health, education and civic awareness.
“Our city’s stories and our strengths clearly have a universal and commercial appeal.”
Code was focused on developing a pipeline of the next generation of studios, and in doing so would create employment and growth, he said.
After contracting, the grant funding will be paid incrementally to successful applicants as different milestones are met.
Mentoring from industry experts is provided as part of the programme.
A third funding category called Scale Up is being developed and will open for applications in 2021.
It will target studios and support them by matching their own funding input to push harder on a product or existing company to get it further on to the market.
The grants are part of an initial $700,000 earmarked for contestable funding in 2020 and 2021.
During the establishment phase, they are being facilitated by the Code project team, led by Dunedin City Council’s Enterprise Dunedin.