By Brigette Currin 5 minute read

Do you work in the the UK’s games sector? Would you be interested in helping to assess funding applications for business-led innovation projects? If so – read on!

The opportunity

We are delighted to announce that we are working with UKIE, the trade body for the UK’s games and interactive entertainment sector, to recruit assessors from the industry to help better inform our funding. These assessors will used across Innovate UK’s programmes, wherever there is a relevant technology, methodology or business models being used. It’s the ambition that we will have 100 new assessors on our books by the end of financial year.

This is inital stage of a pilot programme to improve connections, collaborations and knowledge exchange between this sector and Innovate UK, and the wider UKRI family.

Why is this important?

The UK’s Games Sector is an economic, innovative and societal goliath, which many other nations are rightly jealous of. That’s a rather bold claim, so let’s look at the stats:

  • The Games industry contributes £2.87 billion to the UK economy and supports nearly 50,000 jobs
  • The UK has the biggest games sector in the whole of Europe, double the combined size of France and Germany
  • 75% of its revenue comes from international sales, with 95% of UK games development studios exporting
  • It has a highly skilled, well-educated sector with 81% of its workforce with at least one degree, and Government backed apprenticeships and industry-led skills programmes.

These are impressive enough therefore it’s appropriate that there is specific support from Government, via Video Games Tax Relief and the UK Games Fund. However, these numbers don’t tell the whole story, regarding the sector’s tenacity with innovation.

To put it simply they are innovative by nature.

The economic numbers of impressive, but you may well ask what the sector’s role is in the innovation ecosystem. To put it simply they are innovative by nature. Let’s take AI for example, as the UK has just published the National AI strategy. Games playing and AI innovations have been intertwined since its inception. The first recorded example is Nimrod, a computer designed exclusively to play a game at the 1951 festival of Britain. Deep Blue demonstrated its technical advancements via a computerised version of chess – infamously beating Garry Kasaparov in1997.

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AI is now common in modern video games, controlling Non-Playable Characters (NPC) for pathfinding (determining how they get from one point on a map to another) to combat AI (learning how to ‘hunt’ and providing ‘survival instincts’). This sector could be our most mature when it comes it to AI adoption.

It’s not just AI, games engines which create 3D environments, such as Unreal and Unity – are the industry standard across multiple-sectors. They are the backbone to the Immersive Economy, which continues in key areas such as training, manufacturing and healthcare.

This technology is enabling innovators to transform industries, simply calling them games engines simply isn’t doing them justice.

It’s not just technological advancements, the sector is a primary driver when it comes to user behaviour research. User interfaces and reward system which are commonplace across the digital economy, and which keep us hooked to platforms like social media, all originated from this sector. As did innovative business models such as micro-transactions, which when applied correctly, boost revenues without adversely impacting consumers.

During my time at Innovate UK I have seen these practices being executed in sectors as wide-ranging as social-care, primary education, and mental health– demonstrating the somewhat unseen societal benefit this sector has on the UK.

As you’ve read, the games sector not only creates significant economic opportunities for the UK, but its innovations also have spillover value for other industries and society. Therefore, Innovate UK believes that this sector is perfectly places to add impact to our processes.

What does assessing entail?

Applications for Innovate UK competitions are peer reviewed by independent external assessors to ensure we support the best UK innovation. We are looking to recruit new UK-based assessors from the games industry, we are particularly interested in those that have experience in the beforementioned cross-cutting disciplines; games technology, user-behaviour, and business-model-development. This new games assessor group will used to accurately assess applications from the sector, as well as this it will be made available for every competition run where the applicant utilities technologies and methodologies pioneered in the games sector.

Assessors receive an appropriate remuneration for each application they review. We usually limit the number of applications to 10-15 per competition for each assessor and an experienced assessor tends to take around an hour to review an application. We match applications to assessors based on the subject area of the application and the expertise of the assessors – this does mean that we aren’t able to guarantee in advance that assessors will receive a particular number of applications to assess as this will depend on the applications we receive to our competitions. We respect how busy our assessor are, every opportunity to assess on our competition is optional, and it is absolutely fine if you turned down assessments. The assessor is in control of their workload.

Finally, I particularly welcome female applicants and those from an ethnic minority, as they are under-represented in this role.

How to get in touch for more details

If you believe you have the relevant expertise and experience and you are interested in finding out more about becoming an assessor, please contact Thushara in our team at the email address

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⌁ Tom Fiddian ⌁
⌁ Your favourite at Innovate UK™ ⌁ Digital Economy + Creative Industries ⌁ Form is temporary, class is permanent ⌁