Seven Dunedin game developers have been granted almost $450,000 from the Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) contestable funding round, run on behalf of Dunedin City Council's Enterprise Dunedin.
The funding, which is part of a wider $10 million allocation, is designed to create and nurture the game development industry in the region.
The grant recipients are a mix of both established and startups. The funding grants were divided up into two categories: Start Up funding, and Kickstart funding.
Start Up funding is designed for experienced game developers who want to work on their own ideas. Two recipients received this grant, which offered between $50,000 to $150,000 per applicant.
The Kickstart funding is designed to help local game developers who have a proposal but require more funding or investment to develop a prototype. CODE says that five applicants were awarded Kickstart funding, ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 per applicant. CODE also expects that up to five new studios and potentially twelve new jobs could be created as the result of the funding.
A third funding category called Scale Up is currently being developed and will open for applications in 2021. This will be designed for game studios and will 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.
“There were strongly localised themes within the successful applications, variously featuring the natural environment to support tourism and conservation, Māori partnerships, sustainability, health, education and civic awareness,” explains CODE establishment director Tim Ponting.
“Our city's stories and our strengths clearly have a universal and commercial appeal. The industry has shown sustained growth over the last ten years from the largest companies in the sector. CODE is focused on developing a pipeline of the next generation of studios and in doing so they will create employment and grow.
The grant funding will be paid incrementally to successful applicants as different milestones are met. CODE will also provide mentoring from industry experts to help the grants' recipients.
Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins says CODE has a purpose to grow a $1 billion games industry in New Zealand.
“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. As a result, Dunedin's reputation as a hub for skills and talent will rise in a thriving international industry.
CODE notes that it received 56 expressions of interest in the Kickstart and Start Up finds. It also states, ‘Industry commentators have indicated that the level of interest from local developers in Dunedin is high compared to similar initiatives in Australia.'