HOST launches drive to nurture talent and increase diversity in tech

The Esports Festival at MediaCity

HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology, at Salford’s MediaCity, has launched Gametech MediaCity, an accelerator that will scale 30 of the most exciting technology start-ups.

It is part of a drive to encourage the next generation of MediaCity’s tech experts and harness new technologies in the creative digital industries.

MediaCity is home to more than 250 creative and tech businesses and an 8,000-strong community, with plans for a £1bn investment in the next decade which will see the internationally recognised destination continue to grow.

The new initiative is also aimed at tackling the lack of diversity and inclusivity in the gametech and esports sectors.

HOST, operated by IN4 Group, has committed to ensuring everyone has access to the skills, jobs and business opportunities that exist in the thriving creative industry.

In the UK games industry, 67% of the workforce is male, 30% female and three per cent non-binary.

Representation from ethnic groups remains similar to two years ago, with 66% of the workforce reporting that they are White British, 24% as White Other, five per cent as Black, two per cent as Asian, two per cent as mixed/multiple ethnicities and two per cent as other.

The HOST initiative aims to bring together the gametech, esports and creative digital communities so there are tangible opportunities made available for individuals and groups, such as women and those from under-represented backgrounds who would not normally have access to traditional funding and support.

This includes the creation of 3,000 highly skilled jobs over two years, the upskilling of diverse local talent through Skills City’s bootcamps and apprenticeships, and the securing of public and private sector investment into the rapidly growing sector.

Gametech MediaCity was announced at HOST’s inaugural Esports Festival, held as part of Digital City Festival.

The 30 start-ups will be immersed in a three-month growth and innovation programme to develop their cutting edge technologies, IP ownership and prepare for investment. As well as a training ground for esports, including professional teams and local tournaments, HOST will act as a central gateway for stimulating skills and employment routes for young people to get into these emerging sectors.

Mo Isap, CEO of IN4 Group, said: “Building on the incredible success of MediaCity, we’re now attracting the best global leaders and partners in gametech and creative digital sectors to achieve this great vision, which will ensure that every person has fair access to the immense skills, jobs and business opportunities that the industry provides.

“Our ambition is to create an international beacon of creativity, innovation and prosperity. A place where we can start to converge this community and evidence the transformational impact of what gametech, esports and immersive technologies can bring to the region, the economy and society.”

Stephen Wild, managing director of MediaCity, said: “The scale of the new and inclusive opportunities for growth generated from the gametech and esports campus will be transformational for MediaCity as we look forward to welcoming some of the most forward looking enterprises in this sector.

“Our continued partnership with HOST provides a unique offering, as the most exciting and long term impact of this journey will be the creation of sustainable jobs and the development of professional skills in one of the fastest growing technology sectors in the world.”