MIDDLESBROUGH, UK - 11 September 2007 - A start-up videogames firm has won a Dragon's Den-style contest to find the hottest young talent in North East England's videogame development sector.
The 'Game Academy' competition, run by games industry business network Codeworks GameHorizon, saw local companies and graduates practise pitching their ideas and concepts in a live situation and gain valuable feedback from an expert panel.
Lo-Jen, set up by Teesside University graduates Caleb Lowe and Tom Jenns along with University of East Anglia graduate Jesse Roberts, took first place, beating off stiff competition from five other start-up companies and graduates.
The industry panel consisted of Pete O'Donnell, chief games designer for leading UK publisher Codemasters; Tom O'Connor from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE); Darren Jobling, director of business development at Gateshead-based driving game specialist Eutechnyx; and Tony Parkes, executive producer at Midway's Newcastlestudio.
Lo-Jen's pitch, a remix of the classic turn-based strategy genre aimed at the handheld console market, was seized on by the judges as a strong and commercially viable proposition, winning them the first prize of a training and mentoring package worth more than£2,000.
Jesse Roberts (22), managing director, said: "Winning Game Academy is an important step for Lo-Jen. The chance to get in front of industry professionals, to take on board their criticism is extremely useful, and to win is a satisfying validation of our ideas.
"We hope the prestige of winning this award will give our games and our company a major boost as we seek to break into the market."
Caleb Lowe (21), operations director, added: "We're surprised and thrilled to win the competition against some big local names.
"The feedback on the day from the likes of SCEE and Codemasters was fantastic, but to win the additional mentoring package means we'll have expert support to help turn our ideas into reality."
Nina Cliff, business development manager of Codeworks GameHorizon, awarded the prize to Lo-Jen. She said: "Game Academy helps these talented businesses ensure their products are up-to-scratch by giving them invaluable experience of a live pitch situation and feedback from industry experts.
"What's more, the format has already proven successful. Last year's winner, Teesside University graduate Jeremiah Alexander, used his prize to set up an educational games company, Babel Digital."
Notes for editors
PHOTO CAPTION (clockwise from front): Jessie Roberts, Caleb Lowe and Tom Jenns of Lo-Jen; Nina Cliff of Codeworks GameHorizon.
Lo-Jen Ltd is a new independent computer games development company based in the North East of England. With a well-rounded team of talented artists and designers Lo-Jen is taking advantage of a range of creative opportunities.
About Codeworks GameHorizon
Codeworks GameHorizon, based in Sunderland, is an association of videogames development companies whose remit is to strengthen, support and promote the exciting and growing games sector - a sector that creates high-quality jobs and brings vital export revenues to the region. www.gamehorizon.net
Codeworks is working in partnership with regional development agency One NorthEast to develop the technologies, businesses and people that will lead to the continued growth of the North East's digital industries.
To arrange interviews with Lo-Jen or Codeworks GameHorizon, and for more information:
DD: 0191 556 1128