UK’s first-ever Centre of Excellence at MediaCityUK, accelerating innovation in video gaming, digital media and immersive technology

New facility and training programme for upskilling Unity developers, set to boost investment and establish the north as a global leader in real-time development.

HOST, Salford’s Home of Skills and Technology at MediaCityUK, today (26 March) announced its partnership with Unity (NYSE: U), the world’s leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D (RT3D) content, to establish the first Unity Centre of Excellence in the UK.

The Centre of Excellence at HOST will offer extensive in-person support to students, professionals and small businesses with a mission of becoming the ‘Beacon of the North’ for best-in-class technical skills and innovation across industries.

City Mayor Paul Dennett welcomed the announcement which comes just days after the BBC said it would expand its operations in Salford Quays. He also spoke about the scheme in a YouTube video.

“The gaming industry added billions to the UK economy in 2020 and is a global industry which shows no sign of slowing down - but there is a skills shortage.

“The industry is crying out for skilled and talented workers, particularly in the use of real-time game engines - the single most important skill for creating immersive or virtual reality gaming.  Unity has that expertise and Host was launched as a base for digital and high tech, high growth businesses. To bring those together and create the first Unity centre of excellence in the UK and only the eighth in the world here in Salford is an absolute game changer for our city.

“Host and Unity will collaborate to make sure Salford and Greater Manchester people are first in the queue for these exciting jobs and grow new talent to create games we cannot even imagine right now.

“They will also launch the Unity Cadets for 50 Salford young people, working with them from year 10 to year 13 to educate and inspire them to have a career in the gaming and immersive technology sector. It’s all part of our commitment to ensure Salford is a digital city encompassing everything from the high tech skills for the future to making sure people can get online safely and confidently to do the basics of everyday life.”

According to XQ Institute’s report High School and the Future of Work, the biggest change between the workforce today and the workforce in 2030 will be the demand for advanced IT and programming skills.

This Centre of Excellence will upskill learners to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, promote immersive technology usage across sectors, create highly skilled jobs and establish a central home for the thriving UK video games industry at MediaCityUK.

Creators, ranging from game developers to artists, architects, automotive designers, filmmakers, and more, use Unity to make their imaginations come to life, with an average of five billion downloads every month in 2020. The UK video games market hit a record high of £7 billion last year as lockdown caused an unprecedented surge in the popularity of mobile games, consoles and virtual reality headsets.

In line with HOST’s commitment to removing the present barriers impacting diversity and inclusivity, the Centre of Excellence will launch a comprehensive training programme working with UK universities and industry to deliver professional Certified Unity training.

Additionally, the Unity Cadets will support 150 disadvantaged youngsters from Greater Manchester in Years 10 to 13, to educate and inspire career starts in the gaming and immersive sector. 

“This is an incredible coup for us, we are immensely humbled and privileged for Unity to have chosen us. We can now massively accelerate startup growth, business innovation, incentivise the creation of thousands of jobs, and provide fair access to high-quality career starts with ground-breaking initiatives such as the Unity Cadets,” said Mo Isap, CEO of IN4.0 Group, operators of HOST. “Unity is the leader in real-time 3D development so the Centre of Excellence at HOST will establish MediaCityUK as a global destination for the growth of the gaming and immersive technology industry. The Centre of Excellence is another major asset in our world-leading digital city region. Designers, developers, and artists collaborate through Unity and create a fantastic bridge between creative and technical worlds. Greater Manchester is blessed with the most integrated and diverse digital ecosystem, a foundation upon which our partnership with Unity will drive a job-rich recovery.”

“Immersive technology such as AR and VR is developing and diversifying at breakneck speed, transforming all sectors, including gaming, entertainment, health, education, retail, manufacturing, and more,” said Ryan Peterson, Vice President, Solutions, Unity. “The most exciting and long-lasting impact will be our work to create sustainable job opportunities in the local sector and, in tandem, develop professionals with the skills to take on those opportunities.”

HOST, formerly known as The Landing, has also secured a partnership with Gameopolis, the largest video games community and network for developers and publishers across the North West. It is also working in partnership with the University of Salford and former Sony PlayStation ‘imagineer,’ Dr Maria Stukoff, who is supporting with the development of its esports and XR immersive community.

Stephen Wild, Managing Director of MediaCityUK, said: “This partnership is transformational for the scale and quality of immersive content which will be generated from MediaCityUK. We are already seeing dock10 trailblaze in their virtual broadcasting capabilities and coupled with advancements in video gaming, esports and immersive technologies, MediaCityUK will be firmly positioned as the UK home for immersive entertainment. It will also drive job creation and many opportunities for like-minded SMEs to cluster around.”

About HOST, the Home of Skills and Technology

HOST, the Home of Skills and Technology, is an innovation hub in Salford, formerly known as The Landing. Operated by IN4.0 Group and located at the heart of MediaCityUK, it offers five floors of innovation support for people and businesses, from start-ups and SMEs through to established businesses.

With labs, research and development and prototyping environments, affordable workspace, specialist advice, technology training and social spaces for connecting and collaborating, HOST is an inclusive community of innovators in data analytics, cyber, AI, gaming and immersive technologies. HOST is part of the wider Salford Innovation Triangle, and sits alongside Salford Royal Foundation Trust, with its global-leading innovation factory; Salford University, the fastest-growing University in the North West; and MediaCityUK, the tech city that’s home to 250 creative and digital businesses. 

About IN4.0 Group

IN4.0 Group is an industry 4.0 training, consultancy and digital transformation services provider that specialises in three key areas: applied learning, digital solutions and skills recruitment. Its mission is to establish the UK as the place for pioneers in the fourth industrial revolution by supporting businesses to be early adopters of industrial digital technologies, building a workforce that will support innovation and creating exciting new job opportunities that keep talent in the region. IN4.0 has offices at HOST, MediaCityUK and the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.

About Unity

Unity (NYSE: U) is the world’s leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D (RT3D) content. Creators, ranging from game developers to artists, architects, automotive designers, filmmakers, and others, use Unity to make their imaginations come to life. Unity’s platform provides a comprehensive set of software solutions to create, run and monetize interactive, real-time 2D and 3D content for mobile phones, tablets, PCs, consoles, and augmented and virtual reality devices. The company’s 1,800+ person research and development team keeps Unity at the forefront of development by working alongside partners to ensure optimized support for the latest releases and platforms. Apps developed by Unity creators were downloaded more than five billion times per month in 2020.

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Date published
Friday 26 March 2021

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