Singapore to grow games talent

Singapore to grow games talent

Summary: Government to tackle the first key issue in establishing the island-state as a digital media and games hub, which is to develop a talent pool big enough to attract venture dollars.

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TOPICS: SMBs
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SINGAPORE--The Singapore government plans to develop the island-state into a knowledge hub for games and digital media business, and the first step is to ensure that a pool of local and foreign talent is readily available.

Speaking to reporters at the Games Convention Asia 2007 show held here Thursday, Singapore's Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, said the first priority is to develop local expertise, as well as attract foreign talent, "to create productive teams from day one".

Building Singapore's talent pool is important, because "venture capitalists (VCs) basically go to where talent is", the minister explained. "Once they (VCs) see that you've got good people [with] good ideas which are commercially viable, smart money will come."

The government announced in July 2006 that S$500 million (US$325.7 million) would be allocated over the next five years, to fund Singapore's research and development (R&D) activities in interactive and digital media (IDM).

According to Dr Balakrishnan, the program aims to generate a market worth of S$10 billion (U$6.54 billion), as well as to create some 10,000 new jobs in Singapore by 2015.

A key initiative under the R&D program is Media Development Authority's (MDA) collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to develop the Singapore-MIT International Game Lab (SMIGL), also known as GAMBIT (gamers, aesthetics, mechanics, business, innovation and technology) game lab, based in the United States.

Through this partnership, students and researchers from Singapore have been able to work alongside MIT professors and game professionals on research projects. ZDNet Asia understands that Singapore's GAMBIT game lab is expected to be established in the republic later this year.

In addition, the government kick-started a new program--dubbed INVIGORATE--in December last year, to help local talent make their mark in global mobile games development. The objective of the scheme was to provide aspiring mobile game developers in the island-state with funding of up to S$25,000 (US$16,250) for each project.

Building an ecosystem
To facilitate business collaboration among it members, the Games Exchange Alliance today signed a memorandum of intent (MOI) with several Asia-Pacific game associations.

Through the GXA network, alliance members such as games service providers, publishers, content developers and solutions providers are provided market access to more than 13 key countries in the region, including China, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Australia, said Dr Balakrishnan.

GXA, a Singapore Inc. network of companies, is an initiative by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) to help local game companies in channel distribution.

Heeding the Singapore government's call to develop the games industry in the island-state, PC gaming peripherals maker Razer announced Thursday plans to increase its research and development (R&D) capabilities in the island-state by investing US$12.64 million over the next three years.

Topic: SMBs

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