Wales goes after IP

Led by film producer Linda James, the Wales Creative IP Fund has made its first investment in new media. Dave Keating reports.

The Wales Creative IP Fund, a new vehicle set up by the Welsh Assembly Government, has made its first new media investment. launching an investment strategy the Welsh Assembley Government says will jumpstart the creative sector in the country.

Jester Interactive Publishing, a Wrexham-based computer and video games software developer and publisher, has received an unspecified investment from the IP Fund to assist the company in producing a sequel to its TT Superbikes game.

Linda James, filmmaker and fund manager

The £7 million ($14 million) fund has so far only invested in feature films and TV productions, but its investment strategy is set to target new media and music projects as well. Since April the fund has invested more than £3 million into TV and film projects. Andrew Davies, Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks, estimates that such opportunities in the creative industries are worth more than £750 million. The video game market specifically is estimated to be worth £12 billion globally.

However it is uncertain how many Welsh opportunities there are in this sector. Jester is actually the only Wales-based company officially licensed to publish products for video game consoles. The company has met with undisputed success in this market however. Since its European launch in April 2005 the TT Superbikes game for Playstation2 now has sold more than one million copies worldwide. It entered the games chart at number five in 2005 and held a top ten position with industry leaders for four consecutive weeks. The game has a 3D motorcycle racing format. The next version, which is currently in production, is slated to have new features including five new racing circuits.

“The TT Superbikes game has been a real success for Jester and I am convinced the Fund’s investment will help Jester produce the TT Superbikes dequel so that it too will appeal to the original buyers of TT,” says Wales Creatie IP Fund manager Linda James. Aside from being a fund manager, James is also an award-winning independent producer. She has produced over 20 drama series, 5 TV movies and 2 feature films, and says she is now using this expertise to guide the fund’s investment in creative sectors.

One interesting aspect of the Wales IP Fund is the requirements for securing funding. A prospective company must secure a minimum of 60 percent of a proposed production’s budget from third parties, and it must be able to demonstrate that a proportion of the production’s budget will be spent in Wales.