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MP pitches ‘Silicon Spa’ as the place to be for video games investors – and stages debate in Parliament

MP Matt Western has called on new investment to boost the rapidly expanding Leamington ‘Silicon Spa’ gaming cluster.

The Labour MP has staged a debate in Parliament to reinforce the industry’s importance to the economy and the town’s history.

The cluster includes over 32 studios employing some 1,500 people – including a wider base of contractors.

It contributes more than £100million to the regional economy every year and, when viewed per capita, it is the largest gaming cluster in the UK – equating to more than 10% of the industry.

The Warwick and Leamington MP staged the debate in Westminster to boost the profile of companies in his constituency – and take forward their concerns.

Mr Western, who was yesterday appointed shadow universities minister, said: “In the last few decades, following inward investment and pioneering innovation, from the Silicon Spring in the 80s has gushed today’s ‘Silicon Spa.’

“Though the gaming sector has been one of the few to continue growing as the rest of our economy grinds to a half, it still requires support to stimulate growth even further.

“The government should consider increasing the rate of Video Games Corporation Tax Relief but also look to expand the UK Games Development Fund.

“I am also hoping to aid the development of the sector’s next bright stars through regional education in engineering and coding – and partnerships with universities.

“The gaming industry has thrust Leamington onto a global stage and must be protected at all costs.”

Leamington and surrounding areas are home to household names in the video games industry such as Codemasters, Ubisoft and SEGA HARDlight.
Classic games such as Far Cry, Little Big Planet and Forza were all conceived and developed in the town.

Last year the cluster gained worldwide attention after Electronic Arts’ (EA) acquisition of Codemasters for £1.2billion.

The chief executive of gaming firm Kwalee, David Darling, is one of the pioneers of the Leamington industry.

He and his brother founded Codemasters in 1986.

Mr Darling said: “Having been involved in the Leamington games industry from the very beginning, it’s amazing to see how much Silicon Spa has grown from the 1980s to now.

“What we would really love to see now is initiatives to improve the reputation of Leamington Spa as a gaming hub across the country, and even globally, to compete with the likes of San Francisco and Bangalore.

“In places like Quebec, where the government awards significant funding up to $1.5million per gaming project, we’ve seen the amazing things that can be created as a result.”