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High profile industry expert joins British Lithium team

British Lithium Ltd (BLL) has appointed John Walker as Strategic Advisor, effective immediately.

Cornishman John Walker started his career at Imerys in St Austell in 1990. He went on to become general manager of the company’s tableware division in Belgium, before moving to the US and taking charge of Imerys North American Ceramics. In 2011, he joined The Quartz Corp (TQC) and led the implementation of a significant expansion of the company’s production capacity and was subsequently appointed as CEO. TQC is a joint venture between Imerys and Norsk Mineral that supplies high-purity quartz to the solar, semiconductor and optical markets. Over six years in that role, John oversaw TQC’s development from new entrant to a global market leader.

John will draw on his wealth of experience to assist BLL as the company moves towards production, which also includes his role as Chairman of Exawatt, a provider of strategic consulting and research in the battery, power electronics, electric vehicle and solar photovoltaic (PV) industries.

“We’re delighted to welcome John to our team,” said BLL Chief Executive Andrew Smith. “He has enormous expertise in our sector, knows Cornwall well and has the knowledge and contacts we need to help BLL progress from meticulous analysis and economic feasibility to operational status within the next three years.”

As the first company in the UK to explore for hard rock lithium and the only one so far to have established a resource, Roche-based BLL was recently awarded a £500,000 Innovate UK Smart Grant from the Government.

“I’m delighted to be working with BLL at such a milestone moment in their development,” said John. “Over the last three years, BLL has been quietly getting on with the job of testing a unique process for extracting lithium from micaceous granite. There is no battery-grade lithium production anywhere in Europe and the advantages of establishing an operation capable of producing 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate in Cornwall are huge – not just for the local community but for the whole of the UK. That’s why BLL’s plans are attracting so much investment interest at national and international level and why I’m passionate about being involved in what I regard as an unfolding story of technological and metallurgical success.”

Lithium is a highly reactive and relatively light metal that is ideal for use in batteries – including those that power electric cars. Whilst 2020 has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of petrol and diesel cars sold, sales of zero-emission vehicles increased by nearly 160 per cent. Cars represent the UK’s largest export by value and car manufacturers co-locate with battery makers. A number of large lithium-ion battery plants are already under construction in Europe, with two gigafactories being proposed for the UK.

For more information about BLL, visit www.britishlithium.co.uk

Three start-up companies from Falmouth University’s Launchpad programme have been shortlisted for this year’s Tech South West Awards.

Community seed sharing platform Plotty is up for the Sustainable Tech award. Codices, which develops tools for online broadcasters to make live interactive gameshows, and visitor distribution app Data Duopoly are up against each other in the Innovation category. Codices is also in the running for the Best Start-up award.

Codices CEO and founder Tim Edwards said: “We’re delighted to have been nominated for the Best Start-up as well as the Innovation Award among some of the top businesses in the south west.

“At Codices, we’re pushing the boundaries in entertainment, delivering cutting-edge interactive show formats to millions of viewers each month. It’s great that our talented team are getting the recognition they deserve.”

The winners will be announced at a digital Tech South West Awards ceremony on Thursday November 26.

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.

Antimatter logo

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.”

St Piran's Flag

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.”

83 game still

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.

Gylly Beach Falmouth

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.

Gaming studio computer

’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.

83 the game still

 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.

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.

#1) Connectivity

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.

Nixon at laptop

#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.”

Meeting

#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.”

Falmouth University

#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.”

sea

#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?

Wrong.

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.

plane taking off

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.

Who are TigerX?

TIGERX is a visualisation studio, creating bespoke CGI / VR imagery and video for their clients. “What we’re doing is create advertising imagery really. The difference is that CGI is our tool. It’s about selling the dream.”

TIGERX was born in Hayle after Dougie Cross and his wife came to Cornwall on holiday and never left. Four sons later, they’re still here, two of their boys are now sponsored skateboarders travelling the UK on the professional circuit and the company is thriving. As for the name? “Tiger is what my dad used to call me as a kid,” Mr Cross said. The ‘X’ is cross which is my family name. It kind of stuck as a name but it also gives us great flexibility. It doesn’t pigeon hole us but while we’re known as a visualisation studio, it allows us to pursue whatever revenue stream we want.”

TIGERX employs 10 staff from designers, to people with backgrounds in architecture and gaming. Mr Cross said the gaming courses available at Falmouth University are increasingly delivering young people – especially young women – with the skills and know how needed by the growing industry.

“Traditionally it’s been difficult to recruit, but that’s changing and now we see more and more CVs from local guys and girls who have come out of gaming courses at Falmouth University. We’re pushing our skills and new technology because there is so much competition. It means the onus is on us to push for new markets but then again in 15 years we have not lost a single client and we’re winning new ones all the time. Our aim is to go into the hardware business so we sell the full package to clients. The VR, the technology, the full after sale care and maintenance. The lot. It is a brave new world for us.”

Falmouth Univeristy

What do they do?

The visualisation studio is increasingly moving into the virtual reality world,providing immersive walk throughs for clients keen to show off their waterside luxury apartments to prospective buyers. TIGERX is adopting techniques and technology from the gaming world too with live rendering the key to giving clients the most realistic experience possible – even though nothing they see is real.

“These things are always a bit faddy at first, but when you look at the considerable investment going into VR from the big boys like Facebook, Google or Apple, we know we’re on the right track. 3D probably had three false starts but look where it is now. It’s the same with VR. There is always this aspect of having someone having to put on goggles, but with what we do it puts clients in the driving seat. An image maybe very nice but VR puts people inside that image. It gives them a true sense of scale. You can add sound, touch etc. It’s about taking people from where they are into another environment without them leaving their office or living room.”

Sea waves

The company is also creating immersive training programmes for the offshore oil industry so drilling companies can train staff on virtual oil rigs before they are taken out to the real thing. It saves exploration companies a vast amount of money and improves staff’s knowledge with the equipment they will have to use in the real world. “Forewarned is forearmed,” Mr Cross added. “That’s the idea. We’re also developing way-finding solutions for people with mobility issues to help them navigate their way around a building like a train station.” The next stage is full interactivity in term of information access and real life shopping via the virtual world. Think Ready Player One,the recent Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi blockbuster or Second Life, the 3D virtual world where users can create, connect, and chat with others from around the world – but in full VR.

TIGERX has worked with interior designer Philippe Starck on projects showing off new apartments kitted out in the famous French designer’s style. It has also worked with the National Trust, the Mansell group, aeronautics giant BAe Systems and closer to home, Tate St Ives. Right back at the beginning it was tasked with creating imagery of what the new Tate would look like and how well it would blend with the rest of the seaside town. “The project in Dubai is about selling a lifestyle. They’re trying to sell a reality that could happen but actually doesn’t yet exist. From our office right here in Hayle we help them do just that.”

To find out more about how Cornwall can be the best location for your digital business, get in touch today. 

To read the full original article, visit Cornwall Live.

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