At the annual Showcase event at The Junction in Cambridge, REACTOR – the regional development project which supports the growth of the games sector in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – announced a partnership for 2018/2019 with Cambridge Wireless (CW), and officially launched the Big Gamification Challenge 2019.
Keynote speaker, Cambridge Wireless’s Chief Commercial Officer Abhi Naha, addressed the audience: “At Cambridge Wireless we are passionate about strengthening the UK technology community, through the development of strong inter-organisational networks, the delivery of events that enable individuals to share expert knowledge with their peers and facilitating business growth across all corners of the industry. Encouraging and equipping entrepreneurs to develop tech-based concepts that will improve experiences, raise living standards and enhance the world is an ambition that we share with REACTOR. Combining CW’s well-established relationships with technology leaders and REACTOR’s reach into the next generation of technology talent makes perfect sense and we look forward to seeing what positive disruption the upcoming cohort of Big Gamification Challenge contestants produces.”
“I have seen first-hand the positive impact tech based solutions can have. From co-designing an adaptive sensory smartphone for an ageing population of 1 billion+, to co-designing and testing a multi lingual education, employment and healthcare voice based platform for blind women in India, I have seen the potential for tech to be used for good. Further significant, positive disruption is completely within reach and I can’t wait to see what local SMEs and start-ups produce, with the support of Cambridge Wireless and REACTOR, in the coming year.”
Also speaking at the Showcase event, Jan Storgårds, REACTOR Project Director, Anglia Ruskin University, unveiled the theme for REACTOR’s Big Gamification Challenge 2019: “Connectivity plays a fundamental role in driving progress – whether in creating and sharing big data to inform systems or in the sharing of knowledge and resources – and so I am delighted to announce that the theme for the Big Gamification Challenge 2019 is: Connectivity. Connectivity is not simply defined, but SMEs and start-ups will be tasked with using systems thinking; working together for shared purposes; and sharing responsibility for driving progress. Everything on the planet is interconnected – people, machines, nature, built environments, other species, even androids – and we want to inspire our local creative and tech clusters to crowdsource ideas, interests, challenges, and solutions for the benefit of us all.”
As part of the Showcase event nine SMEs presented the products and services they have been devising, developing and refining, with REACTOR’s support, in recent months. Pantea Lotifan spoke about how, with guidance from the team at REACTOR, she has adapted her initial strategy board game concept to support her business strategy work for Camrosh, incorporating more of the joy of games – to boost participation and increase the value of playing.
Oscar Gillespie presented The Theatre in the Clouds, which went live this month, and which stages Shakespeare plays in a web browser, for the purpose of increasing access and understanding. The Theatre provides an interactive, visual representation of the plot, with an accompanying guide to support exploration of the dialogue. Gillespie has taken advantage of the REACTOR match-funded grants to recruit graphic designers and a Shakespeare expert, and will continue to receive business development support from REACTOR in the year ahead.
Olu Orugboh, CEO of Synergy Organisational Solutions, is incorporating game theory and Artificial Intelligence into her customer service business to increase affordability and availability for her clients. Orugboh said: “Without REACTOR I would not have been able to move forward with my concept. I would have had to pay an enormous sum of money to consultants, which I couldn’t afford as a small business, or my idea would have been resigned to the ‘future projects’ category – probably to never be seen again. But, with REACTOR’s business development mentoring, events focused on refining and practising pitching, I have been able to progress my idea – REACTOR has been invaluable in my business development.”
Storgårds added: “We have seen the success that is possible for start-ups and SMEs when their ideas are combined with access to mentors, networks, support and funding. We are pleased to announce an increased upper limit to the match-funded grants eligible SMEs can apply for, from £6,000 to £12,000. With the ingenuity and determination of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough tech clusters, combined with support from REACTOR and Cambridge Wireless, our ambitions for the year ahead are even loftier, as we promote Connectivity to spur greater uses of tech for good.”
REACTOR is a regional development project led by Anglia Ruskin University and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and, since the project’s launch last year, 39 eligible SMEs have received support, accessing REACTOR’s network of business mentors, game designers and entrepreneurs. REACTOR participants have benefitted from £36,000 of match-funded grants to date, attended practical workshops to develop business know-how and to refine skills in pitching to investors, and have put those skills to the test at events ranging from informal meet-ups to Concept Development Workshops and the annual Showcase.