Following its recent acquisition by Toadman Interactive, Antimatter Games is gearing up for unprecedented growth. MD Rich Barham explains what this means for Cornwall’s largest games studio – and why he wouldn’t be based anywhere else.
Released to overwhelmingly positive critical and player reviews, Rising Storm 2: Vietnam was among 2017’s most celebrated online multi-player shooters.
But its developer, the Falmouth-based Antimatter Games (AMG), hasn’t rested on its laurels. Instead, Cornwall’s largest game development studio has negotiated its strategic acquisition by Swedish studio Toadman Interactive – a deal that was completed earlier this summer.
Over the next few years, this will lead to a $5-10 million investment in AMG’s operations and offices.
A potential £30 million boost to the Cornish economy
Such substantial Foreign Direct Investment will clearly have a transformative effect on AMG. But it’ll also have a transformative effect on the local area, bringing jobs, prosperity and growth.
Indeed, AMG’s acquisition has the potential to deliver over £30 million in added value to the Cornish economy. “We are pleased to see Antimatter Games expand its UK footprint,” says Bjorn Axelsson, Senior Investment Adviser at the Department for International Trade in Sweden, “This shows the strength of the UK’s creative industries and is a testament to the attractiveness of Cornwall as a region.”
A new era for Antimatter Games
For AMG itself, the acquisition means an opportunity to substantially expand its team while drawing on Toadman Interactive’s deep expertise in games industry marketing and business development.
But, as Managing Director Rich Barham explains, there’s a more profound reason AMG is thrilled to belong to its new parent company.
“Being owned by Toadman Interactive means we can build games based on our own IP, with full artistic control. And that’s a vital step on our way to becoming a world-renowned studio.”
Building a world-class game development studio in Cornwall
Barham has a track record in delivering exactly this kind of success story; prior to the launch of World of Warcraft, he helped build Blizzard Entertainment Europe from a team of four to a team of over a thousand.
During a career which has also included leadership roles at both Bethesda and Riot Games, Barham has found himself based in LA, Paris and Copenhagen. But he’s always wanted to live in Cornwall, and believes the Southwest of England is an attractive prospect for many in the gaming industry.
“There are a lot of people who don’t want to spend two hours a day on the Underground because they can’t afford a house closer to work.” says Barham. “Being in Falmouth, we appeal to those people – experienced industry professionals who are ready for a healthier work/life balance.”
AMG’s commitment to delivering this balance is clear. The company offer flexible working hours and dog-friendly offices – and, as it seeks larger premises in the Falmouth area, it’s looking for a location with the space for a company gym.
Expanding the Antimatter Games team
Since it was founded in 2013, AMG’s focus on employee wellbeing has helped it recruit and retain a 21-strong team, bringing together both industry veterans and enthusiastic young graduates.
To meet its ambitious growth targets, AMG is now hiring once again – in earnest. As it seeks to more than double its headcount over the next 15 months, it will be advertising everything from graduate roles at the living wage, through to senior roles commanding extremely competitive, highly paid salaries.
“We’re looking for people who’ll be a good fit for our culture,” says Barham, “but also people who know that Cornwall is where they want to be, long-term. Antimatter Games has an incredible staff retention rate and we want to ensure it stays that way.”
If you’re interested in applying to AMG – or you know someone else who would be – you can view the company’s current vacancies here.
’83: Bigger, better, and built in Cornwall
The first task for AMG’s expanding team? Make good on its ambition to deliver a game based on its own IP – namely, the ‘cold-war-gone-hot’ themed ’83.
Building on AMG’s deep experience in developing online, multiplayer military shooters, ’83 promises to be the studio’s most expansive and ambitious project to date. The comments on the game’s announcement trailer, which has more than one million aggregated views, reveal the high levels of anticipation already building among fans of the genre.
Drawing on local networks
For any game development studio, it’s not just hiring the right people that’s key – it’s having access to the right infrastructure. “Cornwall’s superfast broadband network has enabled us to stay in the county,” says Barham, “even as our business and our ambitions have grown.”
Today, AMG is also keen to make strong connections of a different kind. “We’d love to drive even greater collaboration within the Cornish technology sector,” says Barham. “We can make experiences and simulations as well as games, and we’re always delighted to hear from local organisations who need our skills.”
If this has made you want to know more about what Cornwall has to offer, please get in touch with the CTI team today.
A new screen agency, designed to develop Cornwall as a leading rural hub for film, TV and digital technologies, is being set up to build on its reputation for creative talent.
Cornwall Council along with the Cornwall and Isle of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership are proud to be two of the founding partners of the new screen agency. Cornwall is already well represented in TV and film, with hit shows including Poldark and Doc Martin being filmed in the region as well as Cornish director Mark Jenkin’s feature BAIT premiering at Berlin Film Festival earlier this year and being released in the UK by the BFI
A diverse range of films have also been filmed here, including The Kid Who Would be King, Make Up and Film London short NAPTHA which recently screened at Semaine de la Critiques at Cannes Film Festival.
Now Screen Cornwall is being launched to promote all screen industries including TV and film, digital media, video games and immersive technology. The agency will initially be hosted by Creative Kernow as part of its creative sector support portfolio and in its first year will be building key relationships with the wider creative sector in Cornwall to ensure it embeds huge added value to this exciting growing sector
Screen Cornwall ’s objectives include:
Councillor Bob Egerton, the Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Culture, Economy and Planning, said: “Cornwall is already well placed in the screen industry. The diversity of productions filmed with our stunning landscape as a backdrop and the talent emerging through the skills and education offer provided by Falmouth University and our colleges, makes it one of the fastest growing sectors in our creative economy. Screen Cornwall will help develop the sector further, and is another step towards creating the dynamic, self-sustaining economy Cornwall needs to be to face the challenges of the 21st Century.”
Glenn Caplin, Chief Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, added: “It is vital that we recognise and support the importance of the creative industries in Cornwall. They contribute nearly £90 billion to the UK’s economy annually, and have seen employment growth almost four times higher than average in the past few years. Here in Cornwall we already have growing tech and content production sectors, and Screen Cornwall will enable us to grow this further, creating a self-sustaining organisation which will make a positive contribution to Cornwall’s growing creative economy.”
Phillippa Giles, Chair of Screen Cornwall, and high end TV producer of Sky One’s ‘Delicious’ with Dawn French, adds: “Cornwall’s got soul! It is a unique and staggeringly beautiful place to base a production, as we have discovered through three series of Delicious. Now, as Chair of the new screen agency, I am delighted we will be able to provide focused support for a whole range of projects considering shooting in the region. Screen Cornwall will also provide training, skills development and business support to further develop the sector and to enhance Cornwall’s already strong reputation for both creative and production talent.”
If you want to find out more, please contact the team today.
UK will play a leading role in the new space age, with new support for domestic satellite launch capability, space weather forecasting, and a National Space Council, the UK Government announced today.
The government is ensuring the UK plays a leading role in the new space age as part of its modern Industrial Strategy, with new support for domestic satellite launch capability and space weather forecasting, as well as a new National Space Council to improve UK space strategy.
There are significant opportunities for the growing UK space sector as commercial space activity increases globally and the United States leads international efforts to return humans to the Moon by 2024.
Spaceport Cornwall and Virgin Orbit
The UK Space Agency and Cornwall Council intend to make available up to £20 million for Spaceport Cornwall and US launch operator Virgin Orbit to develop facilities and operational capabilities that would enable small satellite launch from Cornwall in the early 2020s. This investment remains subject to business case approval processes, including from Cornwall Council later this year.
The funding would consist of up to £12 million from Cornwall Council and up to £7.85 million from the UK Space Agency, including a contribution of £0.5 million from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.
Spaceport Cornwall could create 150 jobs and enable the UK to compete for a share of the global market for launching small satellites worth a potential £3.9 billion to 2030. Launch from the UK will be an opportunity to inspire children and young people to take up careers in science, engineering or even as space entrepreneurs.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: ”Space is not only about pushing the boundaries of human knowledge, it is a rapidly growing sector of our economy which plays a key role in our modern Industrial Strategy, promotes global Britain and ensures our national security. These exciting plans from Spaceport Cornwall and Virgin Orbit to make horizontal launch a reality from Cornwall will help further our position as a leader in the new space age. Alongside our commitment to the proposed vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland, this is making the UK the most attractive place in Europe for those looking to Earth’s orbit and beyond.”
The UK government is working with the United States to establish the necessary technical and legal safeguards for US space launch vehicle operations from UK launch sites. The US State Department has already approved a Technical Assistance Agreement (TAA) allowing detailed technical discussions and strategic planning to commence. This would allow Virgin Orbit, which is also investing around £2.5 million in the project, to operate its LauncherOne system and Cosmic Girl carrier aircraft from Cornwall Airport Newquay. A maiden US launch is expected later this year.
Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit, said: “We are very proud to play a role in bringing space launch back to Britain – with a revolutionary new level of flexibility and responsiveness. The Virgin Orbit team has now demonstrated every major assembly of our LauncherOne system and are within arm’s reach of bringing to the UK. We’re thankful for the leadership of Minister Skidmore, MP Steve Double, Cornwall Council, the LEP and the UK Space Agency in making this partnership a reality.”
Last month Science Minister, Chris Skidmore, visited Cornwall Airport Newquay to meet some of those involved in Cornwall’s thriving space sector and hear more about their ambitious plans for horizontal spaceflight.
Julian German, Leader of Cornwall Council, said: “Cornwall is the birthplace of innovation and technology and space is at the heart of our 21st century economy. With assets like Spaceport Cornwall, world-class mission control facilities at Goonhilly Earth Station and superb digital connectivity, Cornwall will play a vital role in the growth of the global space economy.”
Mark Duddridge, Chair of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership said: “This announcement is the culmination of 5 years’ hard work and will be transformative for Cornwall. It puts us and the UK at the heart of the international satellite launch market, offering affordable access to space, and will inspire a generation.I am excited to announce that today the LEP have committed a further £0.5 million to the funding package as a Growth Deal investment into Spaceport Infrastructure.”
St. Austell & Newquay MP Steve Double said: “This is great news for Cornwall. The Spaceport has the potential to transform our economy, creating new well-paid career opportunities and inspiring young people for generations to come. Through education outreach the Spaceport can work with Cornish schools and new space visitor experiences will support our tourist industry.
“In particular, I am keen to see the local stakeholders, working in partnership with universities, to build on Cornwall’s historical strengths for science and innovation; to become a global centre for space communication, spaceflight and space mining.”
Aviation Minister Baroness Vere said: “The development of Cornwall’s horizontal launch spaceport is a fantastic example of the UK spaceflight industry’s innovation and expertise.
“Government support and collaboration with operators like Virgin Orbit will help cement the UK’s position as an aviation world leader, unlocking potential and creating jobs.”
As well as opportunities, space also presents threats. Space weather occurs when the Sun sporadically ejects material and radiation which can be hazardous to astronauts and disrupt electrical infrastructure, communications, aviation and satellite navigation.
The UK Space Agency is providing €8 (£7) million funding for leading scientists at UCL to develop a new instrument – a ‘plasma analyser’ – to monitor space weather. When placed in space between the Earth and the Sun, this would give early warnings to allow industry and space operators to take corrective action to protect assets such as power grids.
The UK Space Agency and European Space Agency (ESA) will collaborate closely on science, space and ground systems technology with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States. In the next 5 years NOAA and ESA, with support from the UK, are planning to launch 2 complementary space weather monitoring spacecraft.
National Space Council
The UK can use its space capabilities to promote security, prosperity and science, as well as trade, international partnerships and global influence.
A new National Space Council, to be established later this year, will provide strategic leadership on space across government, coordinating all aspects of the UK’s space strategy, investment and use of space through a new National Space Framework.
Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: “As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, these announcements demonstrate the UK government’s commitment to space. Satellite technology is crucial to our daily lives, for observing the Earth and gathering vital climate change data, and the space industry is growing rapidly with 42,000 jobs across the country. Establishing a National Space Council is a landmark occasion and will help put space at the heart of government policy.
“The UK will remain a leading member of the European Space Agency and is also considering a national investment programme to forge new international partnerships, position the sector to access more than £70 billion of emerging commercial opportunities and foster crucial industrial capabilities.”
Andy Green, President of UKspace, said: “We welcome the government’s announcement to establish a National Space Council. Around the world governments act as key customers, enablers and regulators of space.
“The creation of a National Space Council is critical step to a more joined up approach across government to support the growth of the UK space sector and mirroring the approach taken in the United States.”
If this has inspired you to consider Cornwall for your business, or you just want to find out more information, get in touch with the team today.
In the world of healthtech, there’s a serious hurdle that can prevent even the most inspired innovations from reaching the hands of practitioners and patients – testing and evidencing how something will practically perform once its deployed. In the past, it’s been a classic catch 22 situation – solutions remain unproven because they’ve not been sold into an organisation or trust yet, and they’ve not successfully been sold in because they’re unproven.
Now, Director of eHealth at Kernow Health CIC Oli Sleeman has pioneered a new approach and offering that’s helping to put an end to that cycle, and vitally, bridge the gap between healthtech companies and the GPs and patients that will ultimately use their tools. We caught up with Oli to discuss this ‘sandbox’ approach, and take a look at the impact it’s already having on healthtech innovators in Cornwall and beyond.
What is the Kernow Health CIC Sandbox offering?
According to Sleeman, “Very simply, the KHCIC sandbox offer provides access to GPs at scale for healthtech digital research and trials, giving companies a way of practically testing their solutions and proving their ability to solve real healthcare challenges in the real world.”
The sandbox takes conceptual and unproven healthtech solutions and puts them in the hands of the people that will actually use them – providing both evidence of a solution’s efficacy, and enabling iterative improvements based on real-world feedback.
Ideas like this aren’t entirely new, but the way the sandbox is structured and funded means that previous issues such as a lack of GP time and engagement no longer impact the quality and outcomes of the testing.
“We incentivise practices to get involved with the sandbox testing program, so that GPs have the time and resources to focus on this sort of thing in detail. By handling the project management and ensuring GPs have the resources to cover their office hours, we enable them to provide detailed, high-quality input that’s extremely valuable to healthtech businesses” says Sleeman.
A new solution to a longstanding problem
It’s estimated that 70% of GP appointments could be better dealt with elsewhere – putting huge strain on already limited NHS resources. When it comes to ensuring people get the best help at the right time, technology undoubtedly holds the key. But critically, that technology needs to be embraced by people and fit for purpose when applied in a practical scenario.
“A solution could appear fantastic on paper, but once it’s in the hands of the demographics that will be using it, if it’s not intuitive and usable, it’s never going to get off the ground. The sandbox offering drastically reduces the chance of that happening.” Sleeman notes.
With limited funds and resources for digital transformation, the last thing the NHS needs is to take risks on unproven technology. The CIC’s sandbox offering puts a firm focus on uptake, ensuring that ultimately, any new tool or solution devised will actually be embraced by real users, and deliver measurable value for the GPs it serves.
Practical evidence meets academic research
Practical evidence is hugely important to ensuring user uptake of new healthtech tools. But when it comes to selling those tools into an organisation like the NHS, it’s still only part of the picture that’s required. Much like in the world of pharmaceutical testing, companies looking to bring something new to market need practical evidence, backed up by robust academic research.
To help meet this need, Kernow Health CIC is currently building a strong relationships with academic partners. With the GP sandbox providing reliable physical evidence, and academics conducting further theoretical research to back up a solution’s likely practical value, Kernow Health CIC is giving innovators a complete solution to turn their ideas and applications into proven tools that are market-ready.
Building a brighter future for Healthtech in Cornwall
Thanks to Kernow Health CIC’s sandbox offering, and the work Oli and the team are doing to improve this approach, Cornwall is rapidly becoming a rural hub for major scale digital trials of healthtech solutions.
Individual healthtech innovators in the region can now access a service offering that solves many of the biggest challenges with bringing a new healthtech solution to market. And for those moving to the region from elsewhere, the sandbox offering also provides a convenient, evidenced way of ensuring that any solution they’ve sold in other markets are also applicable and appealing to the NHS.
Pair the availability of that service with the fact that Cornwall is one of the simplest and most streamlined entry points for companies looking to sell solutions into the NHS, and we should expect to see significant growth in what is already a burgeoning healthtech community over the coming years.
To find out more about Kernow Health CIC and their sandbox offering, get in touch.
We all know about the beautiful countryside, the lifestyle opportunities and the stunning coastline – but Cornwall has so much more to offer than that. Once businesses arrive and begin working here, a huge wealth of benefits become clear – many of which the companies never anticipated.
Here are five surprising benefits that businesses new to Cornwall, quickly discover and grow to love.
Rolling hills and rural environments don’t exactly conjure up images of reliable high-speed broadband connectivity – but in Cornwall, that’s exactly what you’ll find.
Cornwall’s Superfast Broadband connectivity reaches over 95% of the region, including 30% of Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connections, making it the world’s largest rural fibre broadband network. With speeds of up to 330mbps, it’s enabling tech businesses to achieve amazing things from anywhere, with FDI Intelligence calling the region “among the most connected locations in the world”.
It’s had a huge impact on businesses like BAFTA nominated UK Animation Company Spider Eye. Empowered by Cornwall’s incredibly strong connectivity, they moved their whole business from London the most westerly town in Britain, St Just.
#2) There’s a real culture of collaboration
One of Cornwall’s major selling points that we’re always telling people about is its collaborative community. Businesses here like working together – it’s the reason we’ve seen the natural emergence of renowned industry clusters, and powerful peer and networking groups like Software Cornwall.
But Cornwall’s culture of collaboration runs even deeper than that. There’s open communication between all kinds of organisations including; business, academia and public sector – something that just makes doing business here easier.
When New Zealand-based Agritech company Agricultural Biosecurity Services moved operations into Cornwall, Director Michael Ross said “When it came to getting funding, the process was extremely simple here. Everyone involved spoke to each other, so everything was sorted with just a couple of meetings.”
#3) Cornwall is becoming a convergence point for great digital talent
With three major universities developing a wealth of specialism and attracting relevant businesses to Cornwall, the region is quickly becoming renowned for digital excellence. From individual creatives that have the option to work from anywhere, to new companies looking to base themselves right at the source of great emerging talent. Increasingly businesses from the UK, Europe and beyond are choosing Cornwall as a base for their operations with the ability to attract both local and international talent.
Josh Neve of Falmouth-based creative CGI agency Sanders Studios recently remarked “Years ago we had to focus on attracting talent down from London. Now, largely thanks to the universities, there’s a good supply of the skills our business needs locally.”
#4) The lifestyle and environment make it easier to hold onto great talent here
Of course, finding great people to help grow your business is just part of the battle. Once you’ve sourced talent with the right skills, you need to keep hold of it as your business grows. Fortunately, being in Cornwall helps make that easier.
For many people, being able to do something they love within a region like Cornwall is a huge benefit. Here, a huge range of people find a lifestyle and location they love, alongside the same great career prospects that they could find in a more urbanised area. So, when they find a job they’re fulfilled and engaged in, they stay.
For Penryn-based Radix Communications, this has been a huge advantage. The company has grown consistently over its 10-year history, while only ever saying goodbye to two employees – an incredible rate of retention in any industry. Managing Director Fiona Campbell-Howes says “by giving talented people the chance to develop professionally in a place they love being, Radix has achieved a level of retention that none of us ever really thought possible.”
#5) You’re closer to the city (and Europe) than you might think
Nestled right in the South-West of England, it takes a long time to get from Cornwall to London, Right?
With Cornwall Airport Newquay and Exeter Airport serving the region, fast direct flights are available that can get you to London in just over an hour. Plus, a huge range of major European locations can be reached in just a couple of hours.
There’s also an extremely robust rail infrastructure in place, operating fast services to the rest of the country all day, every day. So, however you prefer to travel, you’ll quickly find that Cornwall feels a lot more connected to the rest of the UK and European business environment than you might expect.
If you’d like to discover more great reasons to start doing business in Cornwall, or if you’d like some help exploring the opportunities available in the region, we’d love to hear from you. You can contact the Cornwall Trade & Investment team here.
Whether you’re looking to locate in Cornwall, or to start exporting beyond its borders, get in touch with our friendly team to talk through your needs.