An investment fund with a mandate to diversify Calgary’s economy is dedicating part of its funds to a new digital media and entertainment arts production program.
On Thursday, the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) announced a $5.5 million investment that will help create the Calgary Entertainment Arts Production Hub at Bow Valley College.
Calgary Economic Development President and CEO Brad Parry called it a “significant investment” in growing the city’s creative economy.
“We are seeing disruptive technologies reshaping the way content is created, distributed and marketed around the world. Emerging technologies in this sector continue to attract more and more capital investment. We are seeing entirely new creative industries and sub-sectors emerging,” Parry said.
“That’s why we need to foster this incredibly important economic opportunity.” »
The hub aims to train people in areas such as 3D animation, visual effects, game development, motion capture, augmented and virtual reality, esports and podcasting. The hub is also designed to facilitate business incubation, applied research and engagement.
Nikola Florez, a visual effects student at Bow Valley College, said the studio-quality technology planned for the center will be a boon to his and his fellow students’ careers.
“When we try these technologies, it will be next to blockbuster films. So it’s amazing,” Florez said.
A former successful director and screenwriter in Colombia, Florez came to college with an interest in virtual production and creating films for a wider audience. He said the new center would help him realize his dreams.
“This opportunity is the first step to actually getting into the industry, it’s the first step for all students to actually conquer their dreams,” he said.
The president and CEO of Bow Valley College called the initiative “groundbreaking.”
“What we are going to do is bring students, startups, industry expertise, investors and other stakeholders into this environment where they can collaborate, where they can network, where there will be knowledge sharing and business partnerships,” Dr. Misheck Mwaba said.
“This space will be a space where talented individuals, who otherwise would never have met, will come together and create worlds and characters that most of us can only dream of.
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“This cross-pollination of ideas and this collaborative approach to creation will make Calgary a player in the creative economy.”
The first phase of construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and the second phase is expected to be completed in 2025.
Mwaba described the OCIF investment as “seed funding” intended to help the college build a sector of the creative sector that is expected to grow. He said the college had begun discussions with the federal government and industry for future funding.
“For us, we look at how can we scale? And if we want to evolve, then we need to look for other resources that can actually help us evolve.
Between 2024 and 2028, the center plans to train 675 people and support more than 125 companies. OCIF said these efforts could create more than 300 jobs.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she expects the center to benefit the city’s downtown.
“This announcement today is fully in line with our strategy to revitalize the city center,” declared the mayor. “This supports our belief that if you provide a strong element to your town center that attracts people, you can ensure your town center is vital. »
The Calgary Entertainment Arts Production Hub is one of dozens of investments made by OCIF, an independent subsidiary of the City of Calgary created in 2018 for an initial $100 million.
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