We went to Newcastle, home of our inaugural Creative Cities event, to find out what attracts creative businesses to the region.
Nosebleed Interactive is a gaming company that, with the help of Creative England's Pioneers Programme, was able to secure further funding to create and publish their own game.
We met company director Andreas Firnigl to discuss why he chose to work in this up-and-coming area, what it has to offer emerging creative businesses and what he loves most about working in Newcastle.
How long have you been working in Newcastle for?
We’ve been working in the city’s West End since the company founded almost three years ago. It’s a slightly run down bit of town and our headquarters aren’t quite as plush as the usual design agency type offices. We like to think of it as shabby chic but it’s a really cool area and in the next few years, with the huge “Science Central” re-development going on just down the street, it’s going to be a great place to be.
Why did you decide to set up shop there?
Partially for personal reasons; it’s a really fun city with a lot of entertainment, arts and events going on all the time. Also, because it’s got great transport links to the rest of the country (and internationally). You can hop on a train and two and a half hours later you’re in central London. Head the other way and it’ll take you an hour and a half to Edinburgh.
Is there an accessible pool of talented people in the area?
The North East is a really big hub for game development (more so than a lot of people realise) with some major companies (Ubisoft, Unreal, CCP, etc) all within a few miles of each other. The studios all know each other and there’s definitely quite a collaborative atmosphere with regular meet-ups and idea sharing. There are also several really good universities who’s output has (in our experience) been phenomenal!
How supportive is it to emerging creative companies?
The city has quite a few incubator-type spaces with a raft of creative companies sharing offices or being based in the same building. In terms of the games industry, there’s quite a good symbiotic relationship between the bigger studios and the smaller ones, with opportunities for work-for-hire and outsource contracts happening frequently.
Does it offer creative hubs and a creative community?
Again, alongside a multitude of events, groups and meet-ups, the number of incubators or office spaces set up specifically for creative companies means there’s always someone within reach who can lend a hand.
What makes it a great place for creative companies to work in?
All of the above. Plus it helps that rent and the general cost and standard of living is good.
Is Newcastle a good place for making contacts within the gaming industry?
Most definitely! As well as regular meet ups of developers, networking events and creative spaces, Newcastle has hosted GameHorizon, a world class 2 day conference with hugely influential speakers.
What about accessing finance and support?
As a company that started out during the peak of the recession with little more than a credit card, some good ideas and a lot of talent we’ve managed to grow into a sustainable and stable business. We’ve never found it particularly difficult to access finance when we’ve needed to and there seems to be a lot available if you know where to look. Fortunately if you’re not sure where to look, there are a lot of people who do, and won’t mind helping you.
Why do you love working in Newcastle?
As a city it’s got a really strong identity but it also has a real sense of diversity. It’s a really fun and vibrant city. I’ve always said it feels like a big city but it’s compact and very friendly. You’re only 10 minutes to the beach or stunning countryside if that’s your thing. There is a constant influx of great talent coming through the various universities. There’s a collaborative, exciting atmosphere and there’s always someone nearby that is happy to lend a hand.
By Simon Bland, social media manager, Creative England