17 May 2022

New deal calls action on making Canberra digital arts capital

| Ian Bushnell
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Canberra Innovation Network members at the AIE campus

Making connections: CBRIN members at the AIE campus in Watson for the partnership announcement. Photo: CBRIN.

The Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) has formally joined the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) as its education partner – an arrangement designed to help Canberra’s budding digital entrepreneurs develop products and businesses.

The mutually-beneficial arrangement is a step forward in Canberra’s march toward becoming a national film production centre and gaming capital.

Watson-based AIE is a non-profit vocational education provider founded in 1996 to grow the creative digital sector and now has a national and global reach.

It offers nationally accredited training in game development, visual effects, filmmaking and virtual production. It supports independent developers and studios through its Game Plus co-working spaces in Canberra, Sydney and Adelaide.

Recently, the Academy established the AIE Institute, an accredited degree-granting institution that is taking expressions of interest for courses commencing in 2023.

It is also amid a campus redevelopment to secure its future in Canberra.

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CBRIN CEO Petr Adamek said the network and AIE had been collaborating but the new arrangement would take this to the next level and help students and graduates to grow their business skills.

AIE graduates wanting to commercialise their own IP and grow their start-up enterprises would benefit from developing custom programs supported by the Network.

“We will develop programs together and include more of their students and graduates in the mainstream Innovation Network programs,” Mr Adamek said.

“We also want to do a big picture training program for the gamers and developers who are traditionally good at creating games but not good at talking about their business and help them to become more entrepreneurial, so they can build companies based on their digital skills.”

AIE founders John and Vicki De Margheriti, ACT Chief Minsiter Andrew Barr, Chair of CBRIN Hala Batainah, COO of CBRIN Sharyn Smith and CEO of CBRIN Petr Adamek

AIE founders John and Vicki De Margheriti, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, CBRIN chair Hala Batainah, CBRIN COO Sharyn Smith and CBRIN CEO Petr Adamek. Photo: CBRIN.

AIE founder John DeMargeriti said the new partnership with CBRIN would “facilitate opportunities for AIE graduates to expand their networking and pitching opportunities to become more investment-ready”.

Mr Adamek said CBRIN also wanted its members to experience the exciting digital infrastructure at the AIE campus, such as green screens to provide film background settings.

He said the partnership was part of ambitious plans for Canberra.

“We want Canberra to be the headquarters of digital creativity and connectivity,” Mr Adamek said.

“By connecting them to the universities and knowledge centres here we have a chance to develop new products and digital solutions.”

CBRIN said statistically, two in three workplaces used games as a platform for training, which highlighted the impact and emergence of serious games.

It said the AIE’s multi-million-dollar campus renewal positioned Canberra as a precinct for games and film and provided a connection point for traditional start-ups seeking games and film expertise.

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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT Government supported the AIE and the revitalisation of its campus in Watson through an existing agreement, allowing the Academy to retain its global headquarters in Canberra.

“The AIE’s accession to the Canberra Innovation Network will further strengthen connections and collaborations within the ACT’s innovation ecosystem and support further jobs growth in the creative digital sector,” he said.

The Canberra Innovation Network was established in 2014 by Canberra-based research and higher education institutions, including the ANU, UC, UNSW Canberra, CSIRO and CIT to connect, promote and accelerate the growth of the Canberra Innovation ecosystem.

According to a 2021 PwC study, CBRIN‘s impact includes $100 million added to the Gross Domestic Product of the ACT in 2021 and 400 jobs in innovation companies.

It provides programs and support to entrepreneurs, innovative businesses and researchers.

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A good start for the endeavour to make Canberra a digital arts capital could be to introduce community television featuring arts, or reintroduce if there had been one before, of which I vaguely remember there might have been some years ago in ACT. This could be done through streaming platform that can be accessed globally.

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