REACTOR incubator aims to gamify everyday life

PUBLISHED: 12:41 05 February 2018

Launch of the REACTOR Incubator at Compass house in Cambridge. Picture: Matthew Power Photography

Launch of the REACTOR Incubator at Compass house in Cambridge. Picture: Matthew Power Photography

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New funding opportunity for computer game start-ups and SMEs at Anglia Ruskin offshoot

Dr Jan Storgards, REACTOR project director. speaking at the Incubator launch. Picture: Matthew Power PhotographerDr Jan Storgards, REACTOR project director. speaking at the Incubator launch. Picture: Matthew Power Photographer

The REACTOR project, which is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Anglia Ruskin University, launched the city’s newest incubator at Compass House on Friday.

The aim of the Incubator Space is to “harness the power of games to create innovative solutions for human problems”.

A total of £1million is available to support and encourage the growth of the games sector into new marketplaces. SMEs and start-ups in the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire region will be able to access one-to-one advice along with “specific support to create a new applied games product or service, and apply for a REACTOR grant of £1,200 to £6,000”. Business growth and product development advice and mentoring is also available.

The REACTOR project, which has been going for just a year, has confirmed Anglia Ruskin University’s key role in the development of the games ecosystem in Cambridge.

Audience participation at Compass House for the REACTOR Incubator launch Picture: 

Matthew Power PhotographyAudience participation at Compass House for the REACTOR Incubator launch Picture: Matthew Power Photography

“REACTOR can provide business support from initial concept right the way through to product launch,” said Dr Jan Storgards, REACTOR project director.

“The official opening of the Incubator Space will be a great opportunity to learn more about joining our unique community of games producers, developers and entrepreneurs.”

The Incubator Space is aimed at the wider business community rather than the academic world.

“The incubator is run out of the university but SMEs and start-ups are the beneficiaries rather than the students,” said Dr Storgards just before the opening ceremony.

Pete Jenkins at the launch of the REACTOR Incubator Picture: 

Matthew Power PhotographyPete Jenkins at the launch of the REACTOR Incubator Picture: Matthew Power Photography

Speakers on the opening evening included Sam Goodall, international projects manager at Cambridge Cleantech; Pete Jenkins, founder of of Gamification+; Abhi Naha, chief commercial officer of Cambridge Wireless; and James Shepherd, founder and CEO of Cypherdelic, who previously ran Sony’s games studio in the city.

“I call Cypherdelic a bioscientific game,” said Dr Storgards. “James has been in the games industry for four years. The game shows you how to build a sea monster from a single cell, it’s one of the best examples where gamification is hidden in the program. You go on the journey and learn about life science on the way.”

“It’s not about making games,” said James Shepherd in his talk, “it’s about using technology to augment non-game experiences.”

The opportunity to network resulted in a full house on a Friday evening.

“Daniel Clarke (smart city programme manager for Smart Cambridge) is also here,” said Dr Storgards. “They can give support to start-ups, so if you have an idea of how to use data for infrastructure we can find people to work with you.”

The Incubator Space, which is based at Compass House, is the hub for this inter-disciplinary mix.

“We are taking the positive, optimistic side of gaming and applying it into new settings,” Dr Storgards said. “People are learning about consuming goods and services in a more enjoyable way – this means better engagement and a better experience.”

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