Over $5 million of investment is being used to develop Calgary’s digital media scene with a new hub at Bow Valley College, a city-owned investment fund announced Thursday.
The Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund said it’s investing $5.5 million into Bow Valley College’s forthcoming Calgary Entertainment Arts Production Hub — a facility that will provide training for programs including 3D animation, virtual reality and esports.
Opening downtown in 2024, the hub is expected to train 675 people and support over 125 companies over the next four years, OCIF said in a Thursday news release.
It has the potential to create over 300 jobs, the statement added.
“This investment is a game changer for our students, faculty, and researchers who will go on to contribute their talent and skills to a thriving sector of our economy,” said Misheck Mwaba, president and CEO of Bow Valley College.
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The program will offer training, reskilling and upskilling programs including 3D animation and visual effects, game development, post-production, augmented and virtual reality, motion capture, esports and podcasting, among others.
“Disruptive technologies are transforming the way content is produced, distributed and monetized around the world,” Brad Parry, president and CEO of OCIF, said in the release. “By investing in talent development and boosting entrepreneurship, we can capture the economic growth and investment attraction potential these changes bring.”
The centre will also help with “business incubation, applied research, community-building, and youth engagement,” the release says.
Mwaba said it will be a “world-class” hub that will provide cutting-edge technologies.
OCIF is a $100-million fund started in 2018 by the City of Calgary, of which $82 million has been allocated over 26 projects.
The fund says its investments have created $800 million of investment and the creation, training and retention of more than 3,000 jobs.
Several local companies such as MPhasis and Plug and Play have received funding from OCIF. In 2021, Calgary became the first municipality to invest directly in a venture capital fund to support local tech sector growth, but the fund has also been criticized for investing in corporate giant IBM.
The provincial government has also been exploring resurrecting a digital media tax credit, which was slashed in 2019 by the Jason Kenney government. The program was initially designed to help the digital media sector attract workers and scale up.