University of Warwick invests £275,000 in new esports centre research hub and competition venue, grand opening takes place in September

uni warwick esports centre

Update (September 6th 2021): The University of Warwick is set to celebrate the opening of its new esports centre with a two-day celebration of esports and technological innovation in its region.

An official opening for the press and regional stakeholders will take place on September 14th from 10am to midday, local residents and the wider public will be welcomed to the esports centre on September 15th from 11am to 5pm. The public event will include an afternoon of talks from leading esports figures and tournaments – and will include the awarding of the NSE’s BUEC trophy.

See more: Warwick crowned NSE’s UK Esports University of the Year for third year in a row

Guests on September 14th will include Professor Stuart Croft (Warwick’s Vice Chancellor), Joy Seppala (CEO of Sisu Capital), and Sarah Windrum (Chair of the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership).

Original article (May 18th 2021):

The University of Warwick is investing £275,000 of its own income into establishing a new esports centre to be located at the heart of its campus.

It will operate alongside new facilities, including a refurbished basketball court, as part of the newly named ‘Junction’ facility.

Warwick is one of the most decorated UK universities when it comes to esports success. Last month, the University of Warwick retained its title as NSE’s UK Esports University of the Year, winning the award for the third year in a row.

The new esports centre aims to build on this success, by focusing on training and research into esports, as well as acting as a medium-sized esports competition venue. On that note, it will also be specially configured to allow equipment to be ‘easily and quickly relocated to a larger venue on campus, or elsewhere, for grander scale events’.

The University’s investment will provide all the initial physical infrastructure and equipment for the centre, ‘making it the equal of any other such facility in the UK and the first at a Russell Group university’, according to a press release.

Within the US collegiate scene, university investment is driven by varsity programs and aims to attract player talent. In the UK, university esports investments have surrounded esports degree programmes. However, the University of Warwick is choosing to break away from this norm.

The focus of the facility will be on providing opportunities for the wider community, as well as for students and the esports society. This will include outreach programmes with local schools, community groups and larger bodies such as Women in Games.

Clare Green, a Women in Games ambassador and creative & digital communities manager at the University of Warwick, said: “Unlike traditional sports, esports is a level playing field. Whether you are neurodiverse, whether you are male, female, physically disabled, or able bodied and regardless of age, all people can play together. This is what is so exciting about the esports industry.

“There is a lot of work to do in terms of diversity and inclusion, but this centre provides us with a genuine opportunity for positive actions and change.”

To support their efforts in bringing esports to communities beyond the campus, the university is now seeking launch sponsors to support the centre in providing bespoke coaching, training and development activities that will be accessible to all.

“There is a lot of work to do in terms of diversity and inclusion, but this centre provides us with a genuine opportunity for positive actions and change.”

Clare Green, University of Warwick

These activities will work to support a range of esports careers, as well as players. In order to provide a talent pipeline and remain connected to wider industry, all launch partners will form an advisory board to embed the facility in the wider esports infrastructure.

Jack ‘Coach’ Fenton, a consultant on the esports centre project and a past president and co-founder of the University of Warwick Esports Society, commented: “Considering the multi-disciplinary nature of esports, a vast range of external stakeholders have been identified that we are seeking to partner with. These represent external bodies that include corporate organisations, those committed to equality and diversity, national organisations that promote esports, regional and national skills councils, local schools and charities.

“The University of Warwick Esports Society itself has already raised thousands of pounds for the charity Special Effect, which works to adapt gaming materials to suit people with disabilities. By working with these great foundations, we want to continue to foster relationships that help promote diversity and inclusion in esports.”

The University is planning on establishing a scholarship scheme focused on diversity and inclusion.

Coventry, Warwickshire, and the West Midlands are already aware of the potential economic benefits of this and of related industries. Warwickshire’s Silicon Spa is an internationally recognised games cluster, and the new esports centre will seek to work closely with regional and national partners including CWLEP, Create Central and WMCA to lead on esports.

Yinsu Collins, a University of Warwick graduate and award winning esports journalist and host, said: “I wished I’d known at university that I could do the things within my career that I do today. There are so many opportunities to do different things within the esports industry, covering everything from playing to media, PR, graphic design and streaming through to writing, presenting, events, sales and marketing. The possibilities are endless.

“It’s narrow-minded to look at esports and just focus on games and players as there are so many well-paid jobs – it’s so much more than the games.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring the new centre can contact the Creative Futures team at [email protected].

The esports centre forms part of Creative Futures, the gateway between the University of Warwick and the creative and digital cluster in the region. It ‘inspires, educates and incubate’ on campus and at 1 Mill Street, a new co-working space in Leamington Spa offering business advice, mentoring and networking.

Related article: In other UK esports education investment news, Queen Mary’s College in Basingstoke will open its new esports facility later this month, which is part of a £700,000 project.

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