Resounding lift-off for Interactive Futures festival

"The festival resulted in the development of a number of new inward investment enquiries"

The first Interactive Futures festival in Leamington Spa was a resounding success - so much so that it's set to become an annual event with planning already underway for 2020 and 2021.

The event, at the Royal Spa Centre between January 31 and February 2, was a three-day festival which focused on games, culture and creativity.

It attracted industry-leaders and visitors from all over the world and further reinforced the standing of "Silicon Spa" as a national and international hub within the digital creative sector.

Over the three days more than 1,700 people attended the various elements of the event. Among them was a television crew from popular Channel Five television show The Gadget Show who coverage will be aired in March.

The atmosphere on each day was hugely positive with visitors eager to share knowledge and expertise. The event was truly a credit to the creative offer of the town and the region, as Warwickshire County Council inward investment officer Sim Lee explores further in his guest column.

Most significantly, the festival resulted in the development of a number of new inward investment enquiries - and even before the first festival was over,  new exhibitors were being signed up for the second, in 2020.

Interactive Futures was created and developed by local authority partners working closely with the private sector. It was organised by Sim Lee (Warwickshire County Council), Stacy O’Connor (Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership) and Suzee Laxton (Warwick District Council), in conjunction with a steering group of industry professionals, and delivered by Holland Alexander.

Each of the festival's three days had their own specific focus to appeal to different target audiences – academic, industry and consumers.

Day 1: (Academic Conference)

Hosted by Warwickshire College, this event looked at emerging topics in the UK games Industry including ‘Mixed reality for advanced medical training’, ‘The Britishness of ‘British’ video games’ and ‘Psychological motivations and drivers of play’. Speakers for this conference were from national and international institutions including Coventry University, Birmingham City University, Staffordshire University and Bahcesehir University in Istanbul.

Day 2: (Industry Day)

A conference and expo showcase held at the Royal Spa Centre. Exhibitors included Sega Hardlight, Playground Games, Ubisoft, Codemasters, Rebellion and many more. Two speaker tracks covered technical and business development sessions which were well attended.

Day 3: (Consumer/public day)

Day three was more focused on inspiring the next generation of talent and included a variety of workshops to give students and children a hands-on experience. Many of the workshop sessions sold out and additional time slots were added due to high demand. Talks on both stages were also extremely busy and at times completely full, Ubisoft even repeated one of their talks during the lunch hour due to the talk being completely full first time around.

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