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Games developers in £55k boost

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edwinahart1CHRISTMAS has come early for three Welsh games developers that have been awarded grants totalling £55,000 to build new gaming titles for Microsoft under an initiative supported by the Welsh Government. Dojo Arcade & Wales Interactive Ltd based in Pencoed Technology Park and Sky Fish Studios Ltd of Cardiff are the first in Wales t o participate in the Microsoft Greenshoots programme. Greenshoots is an incubation programme that has partnered with Creative England over the past two years and is now being piloted in Wales with support from the Welsh Government.

Microsoft’s Greenshoots programme provides young games development businesses and start ups with the funding, business support and mentoring they require to make commercially successful games for the Xbox One via the ID@Xbox programme, in addition to PC and mobile platforms. The three companies that successfully bid for funding will now get access to Microsoft’s BizSpark programme that will support the studios with a wealth of development software, expert guidance, technical advice and an introduction to investors. Agostino Simonetta, ID@ Xbox Regional Lead for Europe, said: “Following the on-going success of Microsoft Greenshoots in partnership with Creative England, we’re thrilled to be piloting the first cohort with the Welsh Government.

The participating studios are perfect examples of the kind of raw talent this industry attracts, and we look forward to working with them to bring their projects to market.” Cardiff based Skyfish Studios is a small start-up company that has three members of staff, all of which have graduated from the University of South Wales. Their firs gaming release, A Mechanical Story, which was released in November 2014, recently picked up a BAFTA Cymru for the Games and Interactive Experience category, and they are hopeful of similar success for a title to be released next year. Yucel Karamanli co-founder of Skyfish said: “Getting accepted by Greenshoots is a great step for our new game Elise: Unpainted Memories and incredibly encouraging. The funding will allow us to fully concentrate on making the game without worrying about the financial burdens we have as a small studio. This is a dream come true for any Indie developer studio.” Dojo Arcade was previously supported by the Welsh Government’s Digital Development Fund, and is now rapidly expanding and is a registered Nintendo developer. Tobias Johnson, of Dojo Arcade, said: “We are very lucky to be selected for the Microsoft Greenshoots and Welsh Government funding as the Wales games industry is rapidly growing.

It will enable us to complete our current title Creature Battle Lab and give it the polish it deserves.“ Wales Interactive has received five BAFTA Cymru commendations and a BAFTA Cymru Games Award, amongst others. It’s Managing Director David Banner, said: “We are delighted that Soul Axiom has been chosen as one of the recipients of Microsoft Greenshoots in partnership with Welsh Government. This is a another great achievement for our company and Greenshoots will not only help us take an exclusive version of Soul Axiom to Xbox One but will also give us invaluable international exposure for the title.” At the announcement of the news Economies Minister Edwina Hart added: “Games development is a rapidly growing sector of the creative industries in Wales and a highly competitive arena so I am delighted that some of our most promising companies will benefit from this initiative. “The grant funding, coupled with expert support from Microsoft, provides a tremendous boost for these Welsh indigenous creative businesses. Working with one of the world’s leading technology companies will provide them with a great development opportunity and an invaluable experience. “It will also help raise their professional profile amongst the international gaming community and I am delighted that support from the Welsh Government enabled this pilot to go ahead in Wales.”

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Freeport status ‘key’ to unlocking potential

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FREEPORT status for Pembroke Port could unlock a multitude of employment and economic opportunities for the local area.

That’s the belief of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Senedd candidate Samuel Kurtz.

While freeports are a Westminster policy, the Welsh Government are involved in the process but they have been far from enthusiastic over its potential benefits. 

Commenting, Cllr Samuel Kurtz said: “Freeport status for Pembroke Port would turbo charge the recovery of the local economy, helping to boost employment opportunities for people in Pembroke, Pembroke Dock and the local area.
“That fact that the Labour government in Cardiff have sat on their hands over freeports, while England has already announced its freeport locations, shows the party has little regard for helping the economy recover and grow. 
“This is a key policy that shouldn’t be overlooked simply because of party politics. Recovering from the effects of the pandemic needs collaborative work between Cardiff, London and local authorities.”  

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Port of Milford Haven confirms compliance with National Marine Safety Code

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THE PORT OF MILFORD HAVEN has confirmed its compliance with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC).

The confirmation comes following an audit by leading maritime consultants ABPmer.

The Port Marine Safety Code is a national standard that applies to all harbour authorities. The Code and its accompanying guidance provide an essential toolbox to ensure the control of risk and the maintenance of safety in ports and in the marine environment.

Port of Milford Haven’s Harbourmaster and Marine Director Mike Ryan is proud of the Port’s continued compliance with the Code.

“This is further endorsement and confirmation of everyone’s commitment here at the Port of Milford Haven to providing a safe operation for all port users,” said Mike.

Monty Smedley, ABPmer’s Lead PMSC Auditor, who conducted the audit, said: “I am very pleased to confirm to the Port of Milford Haven’s Board that their harbour operations demonstrated compliance with the requirements of the Code, with many examples that we considered to be industry best practice.”

The MCA’s Ports and VTS Policy Manager, James Hannon, who leads PMSC compliance for the UK government said: “The Code is recognised across the industry and has been developed in partnership by the UK government and industry over the last two decades. The resources set out how ports can assess risks, design safety management systems, and also install governance processes to ensure that a Designated Person is able to evaluate controls and report directly to port duty holders and boards.”

The Port of Milford Haven’s Board formally declares its compliance with the Port Marine Safety Code to the MCA every three years.

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Pembrokeshire business encourages others to take advantage of free courses

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IN LIGHT of the recent Welsh Government announcement on the re-opening of the Welsh tourism sector, Wales. A Food Destination is running a number of masterclass sessions tailored for the hospitality sector.

Wales. A Food Destination is a project which specialises in supporting retail and hospitality businesses to source, serve and sell Welsh food and drink through cafes, restaurants, shops, farmers markets, food festivals, B&B’s and tourist attractions.

Throughout April virtual workshop sessions will take place, covering a variety of areas such as local food and drink pairing, breakfast menu inspiration, how to offer the best customer experience possible, through to creating an authentic local eating experience, with a particular focus on sourcing local ingredients.

According to Laura Alexander, co-coordinator for Wales. A Food Destination, the aim is to give a helping hand to those in the sector looking to source, serve and sell Welsh food in a post Covid world,

“It is great that we are able to offer such a diverse range of training opportunities to hospitality businesses in Wales as the sector prepares to re-open. We know that a lot of businesses have been closed for a long time now, and are looking forward to re-opening and refreshing what they have to offer. We are keen to support them with opportunities for learning.

“The masterclass sessions will hopefully assist businesses in recognising how our first rate produce can make their offer even more attractive and help in boosting the sector at such a crucial time.”

One business who have benefitted from attending one of the recent workshops is Melin Tregwynt, based in Haverfordwest.

“It was great to take the time to look at what we can do to prepare for whatever re-opening throws our way this year. Also to be able to access such a brilliant resource of recipes, information and ideas. Thank you to all involved in delivering these courses.”

The good news is that all courses are delivered virtually and are fully funded for any business who sources, serves and sells Welsh food.

For a full list of courses available, please visit https://www.foodskills.cymru/wales-a-food-destination/events/

Wales. A Food Destination project offers fully funded one-to-one consultations, so if you are a retail and hospitality business and are looking for support or advice then please contact Laura Alexander at wales@lantra.co.uk.

Wales. A Food Destination is a project funded by the Welsh Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. Its aim is to support businesses source, serve and sell Welsh Food & Drink.

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