Blackburn tech firm strengthens Saudi Arabian ties with new deal

By Tim Aldred

07 Sep 2023

IN4 Saudi Aramco

Blackburn-based tech firm IN4 Group has secured a major deal with Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals companies.

The project will contribute to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 commitment of delivering 39,000 jobs in gametech, accelerating female empowerment and entrepreneurship.

IN4 Group has been chosen to boost immersive technology innovation, skills and start-up growth at The King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture (Ithra).

The company is already established in Saudi Arabia through its Gametech division, delivering a six-figure immersive technology training contract. It works with the video games sector, including subsidiary organisations of the Sovereign Wealth Fund which has invested $38bn to develop, publish and scale world-leading games companies.

IN4 was chosen to support Ithra’s activities due to its extensive experience in addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). Having achieved higher than average learner inclusion numbers in its Skills Bootcamps in 2022, with 41 per cent women and 53 per cent from ethnic minorities, it is also focused on empowering women through award-winning programmes such as FreelanceHER 100. The accelerator has supported 193 creative digital female founders over two years, fostering their growth and confidence.

IN4 has established one of the country’s leading tech hubs, HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology, in MediaCity, where it launched the first UK Unity Centre of Excellence and operates Skills City, one of the largest digital skills bootcamps in the country. 

Following on from the Unity Centre of Excellence, the group has now established Gametech on Campus across UK universities, which includes a train-the-trainer programme for academics, an industry syllabus, qualifications, spin-out and start-up support. 

The partnership will give Ithra access to IN4’s innovation blueprint, which has a proven pedigree in enabling sustainable innovation ecosystems to generate prosperity. The blueprint consists of developing a technology talent pipeline that fast-tracks career changers and career breakers into highly skilled tech career pathways. This activates industry technology adoption through use case development and proof of concept projects and nurtures start-ups to scale through innovation and investment.

IN4 and Ithra have already been working closely for over 18 months to support its Creative Solutions programme, which was designed to boost Saudi Arabia’s creative economy by empowering digital content creation in immersive technologies. 

Led by IN4’s immersive technology director Simon Benson, who is the former director of immersive technology at Sony and founder of the PlayStation VR project, the programme delivered masterclasses and skills training in using immersive digital technologies to produce innovative content and experiences.

Mo Isap, CEO of IN4 Group, said: "It's so exciting that Saudi Aramco has chosen us as their key partner to drive immersive innovation and skills as part of its ambitions.

"Aramco’s Ithra is the epicentre of the Kingdom’s cultural and creative ecosystem, and this collaboration follows the fantastic work we have already established through the Creative Solutions programme, which has been pivotal in generating innovative ideas using the latest immersive technologies.”

Miznah Alzamil, head of creativity and innovation at Ithra, said: “We are thrilled to partner with IN4. The previous cycles have been an indication of how creative and technologically savvy the modern generation is across the Kingdom, and we believe that through this partnership we will continue to develop and showcase Saudi innovation and creativity.”

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