Blackburn entrepreneur brings Silicon Valley tech giant to the North West

Mo Isap, CEO of IN4.0 Group and Dr Maria Stukoff, Director of the University of Salford’s Maker Space.

Blackburn entrepreneur Mo Isap, the CEO of IN4.0 Group, has established a partnership with Silicon Valley-based tech giant Unity, the world’s leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D (RT3D) content, to create the first Unity Centre of Excellence in the UK.

IN4.0 Group, a Lancashire training, consultancy and digital transformation services provider has offices at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and took over the management of innovation hub HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology, in October 2020.

The Centre of Excellence at HOST will offer extensive in-person support to students, professionals and small businesses with a mission of becoming the ‘Beacon of the North’ for best-in-class technical skills and innovation across industries.  

According to XQ Institute’s report High School & the Future of Work, the biggest change between the workforce today and the workforce in 2030 will be the demand for advanced IT and programming skills. This Centre of Excellence will upskill learners to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, promote immersive technology usage across sectors, create highly skilled jobs and establish a central home for the thriving UK video games industry in the North West.

Creators, ranging from game developers to artists, architects, automotive designers, filmmakers, and more, use Unity to make their imaginations come to life, with an average of 5 billion downloads every month in 2020. While the UK video games market hit a record high of £7 billion last year as lockdown caused an unprecedented surge in the popularity of mobile games, consoles and virtual reality headsets.

In line with IN4.0’s commitment to removing the present barriers impacting diversity and inclusivity, the Centre of Excellence will launch a comprehensive training programme working with UK universities and industry to deliver professional Certified Unity training.

“This is an incredible coup for us, we are immensely humbled and privileged for Unity to have chosen us. We can now massively accelerate startup growth, business innovation, incentivise the creation of thousands of jobs, and provide fair access to high-quality career starts,” said Mo Isap, CEO of IN4.0 Group, operators of HOST.

“Unity is the leader in real-time 3D development so the Centre of Excellence at HOST will establish the North as a global destination for the growth of the gaming and immersive technology industry. The Centre of Excellence is another major asset in our world-leading digital city region. Designers, developers, and artists collaborate through Unity and create a fantastic bridge between creative and technical worlds. The North West is blessed with the most integrated and diverse digital ecosystem, a foundation upon which our partnership with Unity will drive a job-rich recovery.”

“Immersive technology such as AR and VR is developing and diversifying at breakneck speed, transforming all sectors, including gaming, entertainment, health, education, retail, manufacturing, and more,” said Ryan Peterson, Vice President, Solutions, Unity. “The most exciting and long-lasting impact will be our work to create sustainable job opportunities in the local sector and, in tandem, develop professionals with the skills to take on those opportunities.”

HOST, formerly known as The Landing at Media City, has also secured a partnership with Gameopolis, the largest video games community and network for developers and publishers across the North West. It is also working in partnership with the University of Salford and former Sony PlayStation ‘imagineer,’ Dr Maria Stukoff, who is supporting the development of its esports and XR immersive community.

Stephen Wild, managing director of MediaCityUK, said: “This partnership is transformational for the scale and quality of immersive content which will be generated from MediaCityUK. We are already seeing dock10 trailblaze in their virtual broadcasting capabilities and coupled with advancements in video gaming, esports and immersive technologies, MediaCityUK will be firmly positioned as the UK home for immersive entertainment. It will also drive job creation and many opportunities for like-minded SMEs to cluster around.”