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.”
National discounter One Below opens new store in Llanelli
ONE Below, the UK’s freshest new discount store chain will open its doors in Llanelli for the first time on Wednesday 3rd November 2021 at 10am.
Created by the original founders of national chain Poundworld, One Below will occupy unit 7B at the Cross Hands Retail Park, selling over 4,000 products for £1 and under. Plus, some incredible finds that go beyond a £1.
In a boost to the local economy, the fast-growing bargain retailer has invested a six-figure sum in the opening of the store, creating 30 local retail jobs for the town. The group is expanding following four successful store openings across the country.
Christopher Edwards, managing director of One Below Retail Limited said: “We’re thrilled to be opening our first store in Llanelli.
“Now more than ever, when times are financially tighter for so many families, we are proud to be offering incredible savings on hundreds of branded shopping essentials and on-trend items.
“It’s great to be able to occupy this space within the Cross Hands Retail Park, offering convenient value shopping for Llanelli locals. When other retailers on the high street are closing, we’re delighted to be able to create new retail jobs in the area.
“Almost 50% of our team are ex-Poundworld employees who lost their role when Poundworld went in to administration three years ago.”
For its opening on Wednesday 3rd November, One Below has implemented a shop safe policy with social distancing and hygiene measures in place so that customers can shop safely, in line with government guidelines.
The fresh up-and-coming discount chain has previously opened stores across the UK to queues of shoppers looking to bag a haul of bargains, thanks to its unique savings and product offering.
One Below will offer thousands of essential items acrossmany departments including essential cleaning, groceries, medical, home, pet care, health and beauty and DIY. The store will also stock a fantastic range of gardening, kids toys and summer items.
A wide range of favourite household brands such as Coca Cola, Pedigree, Heinz, Kellogg’s and Cadbury’s are available at incredible bargain prices to shop in store. Plus, many popular cleaning names such as Astonish, Fabulosa and The Pink Stuff, as favoured by social media superstar Mrs Hinch.
Since One Below’s launch two years ago, the independent retailer has opened over 80 stores UK wide with plans for further expansion in 2021.
Family of property developers sentenced for fifteen counts of fraud
Four property developers were sentenced on Friday (October 15) at Swansea Crown Court to two years imprisonment suspended for 12 months each for multiple counts of mortgage and investment fraud worth over £1m.
Audrey Osborne, 65, and her sons Gary Moore, 43, Clayton Moore, 46 and Ian Moore, 44 pleaded guilty to fifteen counts of fraud, including conspiracy to commit fraud, obtaining money transfers by deception and fraud, following an investigation by South Wales Police Economic Unit.
Osborne ran a mortgage brokerage business, Credence Finance Limited operating all over Wales. This company was used as a vehicle to submit multiple false declarations of income in support of mortgage applications.
In addition to the mortgage frauds, the family secured a number of investors in Dreamscape Homes, including family friends, employees and Credence customers. The investors provided amounts of around £25k, some re-mortgaging their own homes to do so. They received Share Certificates in return. None of the investors received a return as the land was never developed.
John Sheehan of the CPS said: “Between them, Audrey Osborne and her sons committed 15 offences of dishonesty, misleading mortgage providers and betraying the trust placed in them by friends, employees and customers. They did so for their own personal benefit and only admitted their wrongdoing late in the proceedings.
“The CPS will now pursue confiscation proceedings against them to ensure they have not benefitted from their criminal conduct and, if possible, to compensate the victims.”
The CPS is committed to working alongside the government and law enforcement to provide a multi-agency response to combat all types of fraud.
Specialist Fraud Prosecutors work to seek justice in a variety of cases including those that cause the greatest harm to the public, particularly involving vulnerable victims.
The prosecution of the case was led by the CPS Specialist Fraud Division, a dedicated CPS team playing a leading role in the fight against serious and complex economic crime and the financial exploitation of the public, using specialist legal expertise to deliver justice.
The full sentences imposed at Swansea Crown Court are as follows:
Audrey Osborne was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for 12 months.
Gary Moore was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for 12 months.
Clayton Moore sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for 12 months.
Ian Moore was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for 12 months.
University to host industry summit online
SUPPORTING industry’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic is a key priority for the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).
The University has a track record for working with industry through knowledge transfer, research innovation, workforce development and by providing a ready pipeline of skilled students and graduates, in partnership with employers.
In addition, UWTSD’s MADE Cymru initiative was established to support manufacturing industries in Wales to adapt to the challenges of Industry 4.0.
The initiative, funded by the EU via the Welsh Government, aims to support the economic recovery of manufacturers in Wales by offering part and fully funded training to businesses to upskill staff, as well as research and development that improves processes and products to reduce waste and costs.
In addition, UWTSD and MADE Cymru have organised an Industry Summit to be held online between June 8-10 to inform, engage and inspire businesses during this critical period of post-Covid recovery.
Expert speakers will be sharing their insights including James Davies from Industry Wales, Carol Hall, Regional Investment Manager, Development Bank of Wales, Chris Probert, Innovation Specialist, Welsh Government and Geraint Jones, Knowledge Transfer Adviser at KTN.
The line-up also includes Welsh manufacturers who will be sharing their own experiences, including Tim Hawkins, Managing Director, Markes International, Julia Chesney-Roberts, Commercial Manager, Riversimple, Angus Grahame, Founder of Splosh and Jacques Bonfrer, Co-Founder and Team Lead, Bot-Hive.
There will be guest talks from circular economy expert Eoin Bailey and lean author Daryl Powell and an opportunity to find out about the range of services offered by the University.
Graham Howe, Executive Head of the MADE Cymru project at UWTSD says: “This Industry Summit aims to explore issues and challenges facing manufacturing in Wales so that we can work together with employers to find solutions.
“We always start with asking a manufacturer what their biggest problem is today and look at how we can help them with it.
“We aim to unravel potentially confusing challenges like these. Our approach begins by looking at what companies need to increase their productivity and competitiveness.
“We aim to lead the businesses we work with through a journey of continuous improvement – a journey that makes the most of Industry 4.0 technologies and their ever-growing digital capabilities to help solve the specific problems faced by each company.
“All of the feedback we receive from businesses shapes our curriculum – we want to produce employable, digitally literate graduates who can contribute to their workplace from day one”.
Alison Orrells is CEO and Managing Director of Safety Letterbox and has been one of the organisations participating in the MADE Cymru initiative.
She said: “It was important to keep innovating and investing to set us apart and come out stronger. It’s been intense but we had a game plan – now it is all about business future-proofing, being agile, collaborations and being adaptable.”
Covid-19 has affected every part of a business and shifted the focus from production to survival.
UWTSD recently led a round table discussion with Welsh manufacturers about the future of manufacturing in Wales.
That discussion found that their outlook is positive about the future.
Manufacturers accelerated their adoption of new technologies to enhance and optimise production.
With many employees on furlough, managers took the opportunity to rethink and invest in better IT, particularly communications, training and diversified into new product areas. They looked to local colleges and universities to help shift perceptions of jobs in manufacturing and demonstrated the career opportunities and pathways available.
They also loosened their reliance on overseas imports and looked for suppliers in the UK to minimise future risk of disruption.
All sessions of the Industry Summit are free to attend and places can be booked on the UWTSD website: https://uwtsd.ac.uk/made/made-cymru-industry-summit/
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