Game plan to boost local jobs

September 1, 2000

Students at the University of Abertay Dundee are being given the chance to develop the next Lara Croft or Earthworm Jim with the help of the university and Scottish Enterprise Tayside (Set).

The joint project, to encourage the formation of computer design and development teams, aims ultimately to persuade bright young graduates to stay in the region and develop their businesses locally, creating jobs and benefiting the local economy.

Some 20 students are in six teams, with development funding to carry out a ten-week project involving a network game, mobile telephone/WAP game or service, hybrid CD/www-based entertainment or service, an "edutainment" project, or a www-based service.

A pilot project last year focused on postgraduates on Abertay's masters programme in computer games technology, but this year's project includes undergraduates and students on other computer-related courses.

In last year's pilot, a three-member team formed a limited company called Monkeys@Keyboards Ltd, which is based in Abertay and is supported by the university's commercialisation office. The team hopes to follow in the footsteps of other games developers from Dundee, such as DMA Designs and VIS Interactive.

Local computer games developers are acting as mentors to this year's teams.

Joyce Matthew, Set company development manager, said: "This is a wonderful way into digital media for students who are interested in forming a company but may not know how to go about it. The project introduces would-be entrepreneurs to the rigours of business but at the same time gives them funding support and the advice, materials and facilities to develop innovative ideas."

Ms Matthew said it was vital that the computer games and design expertise being nurtured in Dundee was retained in the area to help create a culture of computer innovation.

Ian Marshall, head of Abertay's school of computing, said: "We were very pleased with the success of last year's exercise. It confirmed that this is an ideal way to encourage graduates and undergraduates to think entrepreneurially about how they can apply the skills and creativity they learn on our courses to create business opportunities and employment for themselves and others."

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