Two experts from the digital and creative industry are to drive forward an increasingly important sector for the area as part of the reset agenda for the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP).
Malcolm Barnes, a director at Meriden-based Hollywood Gaming, has been appointed as the new chair of the CWLEP’s Digital and Creative Business Group, and Clare Green, who leads the University of Warwick’s Creative and Digital Communities programme, has become vice-chair.
Sarah Windrum, who previously led the group, succeeds Nick Abell as chair of the CWLEP from April 1.
Malcolm has spent his entire career in the digital sector through working in the airline industry and with internet service provider Freeserve before working with start-up businesses.
Ten years ago, he joined Hollywood Gaming which has an international reputation for its work as games developers in the amusements industry and its expertise in providing virtual reality and immersive experiences for cultural and heritage destinations.
Clare moved to Leamington three years ago after previously running the creative industries network Creative Front and the international student games festival Brains Eden at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.
She has helped to establish creative incubators at the University of Warwick and at 1 Mill Street in Leamington as part of the University’s Creative and Digital Communities initiative, and she is also a Women in Games ambassador to encourage more women to consider the creative industry as a career.
Malcolm said Coventry and Warwickshire’s national and global strengths in the digital and creative fields should not be underestimated.
“This is all about bringing all the talent in the creative and digital sector in Coventry and Warwickshire together,” he said.
“We have a great cluster in Leamington but we want to expand that to create other places of infrastructure, such as Coventry or Warwick, to join all the pieces together to become a centre for creativity in a digital world because there is a massive amount of talent in this area.
“In the past, London attracted all these talented, creative people but that is no longer the case and we want to help connect the region in a positive way.
“Clare and I want to drive forward with real, positive initiatives because this business group has already proved it isn’t just a talking shop. It is about using our relevant skills in the right way to drive the CWLEP’s reset agenda.
“Becoming involved in the CWLEP is about giving something back to the region where I’ve worked for ten years.
“It is only in the last 18 months that I’ve felt really connected to the region and I think that’s partly because the area has evolved a lot more and it has become a lot more connected. That is something we must build on to help everyone recover from the pandemic.”
Clare added: “I think it is about evolution. Sarah, along with support from Stacy O’Connor, made a great impact on the digital and creative sector, so we have big shoes to fill.
“I have been part of the business group for the last 18 months and have really enjoyed being part of a network which has raised the profile of our programmes at the University of Warwick as well as having an opportunity to collaborate with other businesses.
“I’m really excited about this role and how the group will grow and evolve. There will be some really exciting projects happening in the region if funding bids are successful that could be a springboard to a strong future.
“The Digital and Creative Business Group has brought together a group of passionate people and we are always keen to hear from potential new members.”