BBC announces first companies for @North initiative

Peter Salmon, Director, BBC North, today announced the first wave of companies that will be commissioned under the BBC’s @North initiative.

The @North digital initiative was launched by Peter Salmon in November 2009 to encourage and support the development and delivery of interactive content for CBBC and CBeebies. This first wave represents over half the money available, with a total amount of £500,000 earmarked for commissioning in the pilot of @North, and a further wave of commissions will be announced in the coming months.

The first companies to be commissioned are from Yorkshire, the North-East and North-West of England – Numiko and Brass from Leeds, The Workshop from Sheffield, Amaze from Manchester and Th_nk from Newcastle.

Peter Salmon, Director, BBC North, said: “The investment announced today marks a significant step towards realising the creative benefits that BBC North will ultimately deliver working in partnership with locally-based creative companies.

“The @North initiative has provided a valuable insight into how the BBC will work and engage with companies in the region to make the best content for audiences across the UK. I want to congratulate those companies whose ideas and creativity have been successful today and look forward to announcing the other companies in the forthcoming months.”

@North is a pilot project led by BBC Children’s, involving multi-disciplinary teams from across different divisions of the BBC including Future Media & Technology (FM&T) working collaboratively. The project also represents a new model of how the BBC will engage with independent companies and digital agencies across the north of England as well as with the regional screen agencies – Northern Film and Media, Screen Yorkshire and Vision+Media (North West).

Joe Godwin, Director, BBC Children’s, added: “@North has been a new way of working for Children’s and these companies have come up with some great ideas that will engage our young audiences and reflect how they consume content in the digital world.

“In addition to direct new commissions, @North has also enabled us to develop new relationships with small companies in the creative sector right across the north of England in addition to the companies that we already work with. This is an important part of our objectives as BBC Children’s prepares to move to our new home at MediaCityUK in Salford next year.”

Another key element of @North is to develop and strengthen relationships with companies beyond individual commissions. Since its launch the BBC has engaged with over 50 companies across the north of England through a range of workshops offering both creative and technical development expertise.

A networking event for games developers and web companies is being held at City Inn, Leeds on Wednesday 8 September 2010 from 5pm. The evening will be attended by representatives from the BBC, GameHorizon, Game Republic, Northern Film and Media, North West Vision and Media and Screen Yorkshire who will help facilitate introductions.

Peter Salmon and Sally Joynson, Chief Executive of Screen Yorkshire, one of the key partners in @North, met the three successful Yorkshire based companies at Screen Yorkshire’s offices in Leeds to mark today’s announcement of new BBC investment in the creative industries in the north of England.

Peter and Sally congratulated and discussed the project with: Andrew Brown, Creative Director from Leeds-based Brass; Jaron Ghani, founder and Technical Director of Numiko from Leeds; and Hannah Wysome, Content Producer for The Workshop from Sheffield

Sally Joynson, Chief Executive of Screen Yorkshire, said: “We are delighted to congratulate all five companies who have made it through to the commissioning stage of this groundbreaking initiative. The fact that three out of the five are from Yorkshire; two from Leeds; and one from Sheffield; is testament to the extraordinary creative talent that we have in the region.

“We are at a critical junction in the country’s economic recovery and Screen Yorkshire’s work with partners such as the BBC helps ensure that businesses in Yorkshire have the greatest chance of becoming world leaders in digital media – one of the fastest growing and rapidly developing industries in the UK.”

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