Virtual reality gaming entrepreneurs will share in £150m of Government investment targeted at UK creative industries ahead of Brexit.
Ministers are aiming to double Britain’s share of the global creative immersive content market by 2025, which is forecast to be worth more than £30bn by 2025.
The funding boost is part of the Government’s creative industries sector deal to be announced on Wednesday by Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, Business Secretary Greg Clark and co-chair of the Creative Industries Council, Nicola Mendelsohn.
A dedicated £33m will develop immersive technologies such as virtual reality video games, interactive art shows and augmented reality experiences in tourism.
The Government will also support the UK Games Fund with an additional £1.5m over the next two years to help young entrepreneurs and boost new product creation in the sector.
Cities and towns looking to invest in creative projects, meanwhile, can now bid for money from a new £20m cultural development fund.
As ministers map how to up-skill the UK workforce pre-Brexit, a new London Screen Academy, with places for up to 1,000 students aged 16 and over, will also open in September 2019. The curriculum will include UAL Creative Diploma and A-levels.
Up to £2m will also be made available to boost industry-led skills, including a creative careers programme to reach 2,000 schools and 600,000 pupils over two years.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said the measures would cement the UK’s reputation as “one the most creative places on earth” but Labour claimed the deal was a “disappointing suite of re-announcements and recycled money”.
Clark said: “Our creative industries have been, for centuries, world renowned and at the forefront of innovation. That’s why I was determined to place the creative industries at the heart of our industrial strategy.
“To boost this innovation, we put the creative industries at the heart of our ambitious industrial strategy and this joint deal is a landmark moment for our relationship with this world-leading sector. By working together with universities and industry, and by investing £150 million, we will unlock growth across the UK.
“The deal is evidence of our continued commitment to our world leading creative sector, establishing a partnership that can build on the UK’s position and reputation as one the most creative places on earth.”
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said the cash would help creative businesses compete with their counterparts in emerging economies.
He said: “Britain’s creative industries are an economic and cultural powerhouse and this ambitious deal will make sure they continue to thrive as we build a Britain fit for the future.
“Our creative industries will help develop the talent of the future, ensure people are rightly rewarded for their creative content and give our firms the support they need to compete on the global stage. Millions of people around the world enjoy our world-class artistic and cultural output and we want Britain to stay a frontrunner in these vibrant sectors.”
Nicola Mendelsohn, who, as co-chair of the Creative Industries Council and vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Facebook, worked with the Government on the sector deal, said: “This breakthrough deal represents a huge vote of confidence in our creative industries to continue to deliver the world class economic performance and workforce that the UK needs.
“We look forward to working together with Government to realise its full benefits and the potential of the creative industries in all parts of the UK.”
Kevin Brennan, Labour’s Shadow Arts Minister, said the announcement is “months late and hasn’t lived up to the hype”.
He added: “There is an abject lack of funding or ambition for creative education and skills from this Government. Labour will be holding its own series of roundtables with creative industry sectors and will be bringing forward an alternative sector deal later this year.
“The Government promised a blockbuster for the creative industries but this disappointing suite of re-announcements and recycled money is destined to go straight to DVD.”