CHRISTMAS 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.”
Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre
LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.
In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.
This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.
RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”
“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”
“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”
“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”
“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”
“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”
Beware of fake E.ON refund emails, warns Action Fraud
ACTION FRAUD – the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime – has said scammers are impersonating Eon in an attempt to steal the recipient’s money and financial details.
The UK’s energy crisis has seen household utility bills rocket following the price cap increase this April, scammers are seeing this as an opportunity to fleece unsuspecting residents out of their hard-earned cash.
Action Fraud said today it has received 449 relating to fake emails – known as phishing – purporting to come from E.ON.
The emails state that the recipient is owed an £85 refund due to an ‘overcharge’.
Action Fraud has said the links to the emails lead to a ‘genuine-looking website’ but they are designed to steal a personal details.
Phishing is a method used by scammers, using fake emails or web links which look trustworthy and familiar, to gain access to sensitive information such as passwords and bank details or to infect your device with malware.
Phishing emails are a very common type of cyber attack and because they’re made to look like they’re from an official source, they’re easy to fall victim of.
They could be from a business you’re a customer of – your gas and electricity supplier, for example – asking you to manage your account or pay a bill.
If you’ve had a suspicious email from someone claiming to be from E.ON, forward it to email@example.com for their cyber security team to investigate, if you’re a customer or not, and then delete it immediately.
Email safety tips
E.ON has listed four things you can check if you’ve received an email claiming to be from us.
- Check the sender’s address
The senders email address may look trustworthy at first, but the name after the ‘@’ (the domain) can give you a clue as to whether it’s bogus. For example if the email is sent from: @eonHelpDeskUK.com, this is likely a malicious phishing attempt, as we’d only send emails from @eonenergy.com.
- Is the greeting personal?
A genuine email will address you by your full name, and not a generic term like ‘sir’, ‘madam’, or ‘loyal customer’.
- Be cautious
If you’re using a mouse, hover over any links you’re unsure of before clicking on them, just to see if the link address looks genuine. If you’re unsure, go to the website directly instead of using the link in the email.
- How does it look?
Check the grammar, tone and design of any emails which you receive. Look out for inconsistent fonts, unusual characters and punctuation.
Remember, if you’re unsure, forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org and our cyber security team will investigate.
Ownership change for 200-year old hotel in Llanelli hotel following significant funding deal
A 200-YEAR-OLD hotel in Llanelli is set to get a new lease of life after its new owners secured significant funding from NatWest.
Nickesha Graham-Burrell and Balfour Burrell obtained a £420k funding package from the bank to purchase The Ashburnham Hotel in Pembrey following the retirement of its previous owners.
The Burrells plan to strengthen the impressive reputation and operation of the £650,000 annual turnover business including considerable investment in landscaping and internal refurbishments at the seven-acre site, and a future vision to add guest lodges to the grounds.
The couple also plans to improve sustainability by installing electric vehicle charging points on-site.
Balfour, a former construction project manager, will take over as general manager. All current staff will be retained as part of the changing of hands, while the new owners hope to create more jobs in the local area as the business expands.
Built as an independent inn in the early 1800s to provide accommodation for businesspeople in the area, the hotel inherits its name from the Earl of Ashburnham, who lived at Pembrey house until the 1920s. Most notably, the property accommodated aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart for an overnight stay following her transatlantic flight in 1928, where she became the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
The deal was completed in March 2022 and secured the freehold of the hotel alongside all existing furniture and fittings. Jo McCarthy, commercial finance broker at B2B Finance, Andrew Styles, business development manager and Paul Dunne, relationship manager, both at NatWest, supported the transaction.
Nickesha said: “Ashburnham Hotel is an extremely important business in the local area and sits in idyllic surroundings close to Pembrey Country Park and Ashburnham golf course. It is rich in history and still plays a huge part in the local community offering everything from weddings to business meetings and dining opportunities.
“The hotel has seen many changes over the years and will undergo internal and external refurbishment to create a sophisticated and luxurious feel. We’re excited about the future of the business and are committed to ensuring it remains authentic as the operation expands.”
Paul Dunne, Relationship Manager at NatWest for Carmarthenshire, said: “Working with Nickesha and the team to secure this funding package has been a pleasure. I am confident the funds provided by NatWest will help to inject refreshed life back into the much-loved hotel and encourage additional employment opportunities in the area.
“The hospitality sector has faced a particularly challenging time on a national scale, however, SMEs such as The Ashburnham Hotel will play a huge role in our economic recovery and Natwest is delighted to support this venture.”
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