By LAURA LOREK
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
Officials with the United Kingdom, which is comprised of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, showcased some of the opportunities U.S. companies, and in particular Austin-based companies, have in expanding their operations into the fifth largest single market.
For UK day, the British Consulate held a series of events on Wednesday including an open for business British breakfast, a lunch on animation and gaming and a gin tasting at Old School Bar & Grill on Sixth Street downtown.
Last year, the U.S. British Consul Office in Houston opened an office in Austin. Haileigh Meyers, vice consul ICT & Creative Media, heads up the local office. She organized the events for Austin Startup Week.
To kick off the animation and gaming luncheon presentation, Hannah Perrin-Haynes, vice president of Scottish Development International, gave a presentation on the benefits of locating operations in Scotland. It is the biggest hub for game development in Britain.
Scotland has a robust video game development industry with more than 100 companies, Perrin-Haynes said.
“It’s a growing sector,” Perrin-Haynes said.
The country’s skilled, talented and creative workforce attracts multi-national companies to locate operations there, she said. Also, costs are low and it’s a stunningly attractive location and they’ve got scotch, she said.
CGI last year opened an open source software development center in Glasgow that is expected to create around 250 jobs, Perrin-Haynes said.
And many people might be surprised to learn that the hit video game franchise Grand Theft Auto was created in Scotland. DMA Design created the game in Dundee, a former shipbuilding city. The company is now part of Rockstar Games.
And 4J Studios, another Dundee-based gaming company, created Minecraft for Xbox 360. Swedish programmer Markus Persson created the original version of Minecraft.
London is also a draw for international gaming and animation companies, said
London is home to gaming studios from Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. And King.com created the wildly popular Candy Crush Saga. London also has 26 meetups geared to the gaming and animation industry and several conferences, said James Cummings, vice president of business development with London & Partners.
London has the seed funds, technology accelerators, support of the government, Tech City and coworking spaces for a vibrant technology and gaming cluster, Cummings said.
“Everything the cluster needs to develop extremely well is in London,” Cummings said. “We’ve attracted more international gaming companies than any other international city.”
London has a cluster of 83 international gaming publishers in London, more than Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tokyo, Seoul or Vancouver, Cummings said.
“London attracts creative talent that is looking to innovate,” he said.
The UK is the easiest place in Europe to open an international office, said Mark Barron, partner with TaylorWessing, a London-based law firm. The U.K. also offers tax credits and low tax rates to international firms doing business there.
“The U.K. is a great springboard to the rest of the world,” Barron said.
It takes a day to set up a business in the U.K., Barron said.