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The West Midlands has agreed on a 10-year Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) with the Global Esports Federation (GEF), accelerating the region’s commitment to driving international growth in the rapidly developing industry.
The partnership will see the West Midlands join a network of global hubs, including GEF’s headquarters Singapore and continued developments in Brazil, China, Turkey, Japan, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, among others.
The agreement, led by the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC), will cement the region’s position as a hotbed for the esports and gaming industry, with the West Midlands already responsible for one quarter of the UK’s output in the sector.
The partnership builds on the West Midlands’ position as a gaming and esports hub within the UK, with the region playing host to a total of 130 games companies – predominantly clustered around Leamington Spa – including the likes of Codemasters, Ubisoft, Playground, Sega Hardlight and others.
The sector employs a workforce of more than 3000 games professionals in the region. The University of Warwick has also been recently named the UK Esports University of the Year for the fourth successive year, following significant investment in state-of-the-art facilities and talent.
Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers has also committed heavily to Esports, hosting its own esports organisation with teams in the UK, Europe and China, as well as announcing last year a partnership with North American Esports giant Evil Geniuses.
Paul J. Foster, CEO of Global Esports Federation, said: “The GEF President, Chris Chan and the entire Board of the Global Esports Federation have earmarked strategic global hubs as anchors for our development of esports, sports, immersive technologies, innovative entertainment, and adjacent sectors. The leadership in the West Midlands continues to demonstrate a strong collective ambition and the diverse capabilities of this dynamic region. Through our partnership with the Commonwealth Games Federation for the upcoming Commonwealth Esports Championships and this historic Strategic Framework Agreement, we are proud to bring our support, expertise, and strong, tangible commitment to this region, unlocking a decade of limitless opportunities and accelerating growth for the people and businesses who are lucky to call it home.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I was thrilled when we confirmed that the first ever Commonwealth Esports Championships would be staged this summer right here in the West Midlands and this exciting partnership with the Global Esports Federation showcases the scale of our region’s ambition – to be a global leader in what is the world’s fastest growing entertainment sector. We’re fortunate to already have huge gaming names like Sega Hardlight and Codemasters on our doorstep all contributing to the West Midlands’ growing status as an esports hub. Now we’re taking the next step by partnering with the Global Esports Federation to drive investment and create high-quality, state-of-the-art jobs in this incredibly dynamic sector. These are momentous times for the West Midlands, and I cannot wait to see this sector continue to thrive.”
Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “With Birmingham and the wider West Midlands synonymous with youth, vibrancy and pioneering new innovations, our region is well-placed as the new strategic centre of UK esports. Through our partnership with the Global Esports Federation, we’re turning this rapidly growing, global economic and cultural opportunity into a regional blueprint for growth. The 10-year commitment will help us to deliver more major events in the city – driving international footfall into the region – and includes the development of a new Esports Innovation and Research Centre, which has the potential to galvanise local tech capability. We look forward to bringing esports to new audiences of fans and talent, right here in Birmingham, starting with the inaugural Commonwealth Esports Championships this August.”