The Pixel Mill is open!

The Pixel Mill, a creative co-working space in Ormeau Baths Innovation Centre designed to hot house local game development teams, was officially opened on Friday 23rd November. Seven start-ups are already in place taking advantage of free working space, a business support programme which is second to none and access to finance to develop their ideas and games content. The Pixel Mill is funded by Northern Ireland Screen with support from the Department for the Economy.

Situated in Belfast City centre, facilities on site include a state of the art user testing lounge powered by Dolby, access to 100mb per second broadband, modern co-working space, breakout and creative spaces for informal working and meeting, boardroom and event space.

The seven occupant companies are; Blackstaff Games, Brain and Nerd, Capstone Games, Cupboard Games, Northern Softworks, Rocket Flair Studios and Whitepot Studios. Over the coming months it is hoped that more developers will take up residence in what is undoubtedly one of best supported games incubators in the UK and Ireland.

Speaking at the launch event, Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of UKIE (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment) said; “The global games industry is thriving and there has never been a better time to support emerging companies and talent so they can access the opportunities the global digital economy offers. Initiatives like this are critical in supporting young companies and creating a sense of community and potential collaborations between them.  This venture provides an opportunity to develop and support games clusters that are the building blocks for innovation and creativity, which can make a real difference to the industry right across the UK and Northern Ireland.”

Ormeau Baths is also home to Digital Catapult NI’s Immersive Lab which will give residents of The Pixel Mill the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the latest immersive technology including Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality enabling them to demonstrate, innovate and test their own business ideas and research.

The Pixel Mill is Northern Ireland Screen’s key commitment to the Future Screens NI programme, a creative industries R&D partnership between Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast and local industry, which aims to advance and grow the creative industries sector in Northern Ireland.

Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen said; “We are delighted to open Northern Ireland’s first games incubator, thanks to the Department for the Economy’s support of our Opening Doors Phase 2 strategy this has been made possible. We hope that being housed here with these wonderful facilities and alongside Digital Catapult NI’s Immersive Lab and access to R&D funding from Future Screens NI we’ll see these start-up companies grow to achieve global success.”

Steve Pette, co-founder of Ormeau Baths, said: “Our objective for Ormeau Baths is to be a thriving, diverse start-up community and a hub for talented tech entrepreneurs, so we are really excited that Northern Ireland Screen has chosen to establish the Pixel Mill here. Gaming is a multi-billion-pound industry which holds massive potential for Northern Ireland and with the Pixel Mill and Immersive Lab anchoring side two of the expanded Ormeau Baths building, we intend to play an active role in helping the sector move up to the next level.”

The Pixel Mill will also serve a larger role as a gaming community meeting place, a window to the Northern Ireland gaming ecosystem, and a platform for gaming initiatives here.


Mobile games publisher Boomdash Digital has announced the official release of a new action-packed VR game on Samsung Gear VR and Oculus GO. Based on re-imagining of the 1981 cult-hit horror film, Evil Dead: Virtual Nightmare is a soul-crushing mobile game brim to the edge with gleeful gore and terrifying twists.

The first-person horror game received funding support from the Northern Ireland Screen fund.

Players can discover increasingly challenging missions in the Book of the Dead, unlock charms, pick up new weapons and gather the courage to combat powerful bosses.

Gameplay features:

  • Intense, 1st person POV, puts players at the centre of the Evil Dead universe
  • Unnerving 360 experience of the iconic Evil Dead cabin
  • Access to classic Evil Dead weapons from a nail gun to the chainsaw
  • New upgraded weapons, including sights on all guns
  • Realistic 3D VR graphics and camerawork to recreate the look and feel of the movie set

Watch the gameplay trailer here.


Cross sector creative partnership, Future Screens NI – a collaboration between Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast and local industry partners – announces £13 million investment to secure the future of the creative industries in Northern Ireland.

The new Creative Industries R&D partnership has been established to accelerate growth through new product development, services and high value skills for jobs in a flourishing sector. With a multi-million pound investment from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and funding from industry, the £13 million Future Screens NI venture is the largest single investment in the creative industries in NI.

This innovative partnership brings together Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast and industrial partners at the forefront of the creative economy. The academic collaboration behind the venture is also behind significant project proposals for the Belfast Region City Deal.

Responding to industry needs, Future Screens NI will deliver expert technical skills, opportunity and growth across film and broadcast, animation, games and immersive technologies and industries.  Through the partnership, Northern Ireland’s creative companies will develop strategies to collaborate, grow productivity and maximise their global potential, delivering new jobs and a £400 million increase in GVA to boost the local economy.

Addressing challenges and building on existing strengths in creative industries in the region, areas of focus will include narrative and storytelling in digital content, applications of VR/AR in health, tourism and engineering, development of a games nexus, expanding capacity for large scale film and TV production and enhancing the high level skills pipeline in 2D and 3D animation.

Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor of Ulster University said:

“Future Screens NI is a unique opportunity to bring together our creativity with the expertise of industry partners to create a step change in the growth of a thriving sector with huge potential for our economy. The partnership will transform innovation and job creation across a range of exciting disciplines; and with creative industries hubs in Belfast, Newry, Coleraine and Derry~Londonderry, the impact will be region wide.

This welcome and unprecedented level of investment recognises how powerfully our two local universities underpin economic growth, matching our talents to high growth sectors.”

Ulster University’s Belfast campus, a long-standing creative hub for the city and region and home of the University’s founding school of design, today hosted a showcase featuring the market promise of virtual reality and immersive technologies, the flair of animation and the thriving games industry.

Welcoming the announcement Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, said:

“At Queen’s University Belfast we are delighted to collaborate with our colleagues at Ulster University and our key creative industries partners, who are crucial to the creative economy in the region, on this timely project supported by the AHRC.

“The Future Screens NI project brings together a wide range of complementary disciplines at both institutions in areas which are both industry-facing and world-leading in terms of their research and impact.  Future Screens NI will provide a unique opportunity to grow the creative sector in Northern Ireland, nurturing the development of our SMEs, enhancing our economic prosperity, and celebrating the creative talents of our region and our local people.”

Professor Andrew Thompson, Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said:

“Combining world-class arts and humanities researchers with our globally renowned creative industries will underpin growth in this vibrant and rapidly expanding sector within the UK economy.

“These pioneering partnerships between industry and universities are providing a huge vote of confidence for a sector that is vital to the future prosperity of the UK.”

Future Screens NI will place Northern Ireland’s creative industries in front of international markets and work with government and other agencies to create sustained growth. The collaboration is one of nine research and development partnerships in the AHRC Creative Industries Cluster Programme, part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, bringing together dynamic creative industries with world-leading university research talent.

Ulster University is also a partner in a new Policy and Evidence Centre for the sector led by global innovation foundation Nesta, with partners across the UK.  The Centre will connect organisations in the creative industries, research communities, and policy-makers to develop independent evidence and analysis that can inform decision-making across the industry and underpin future policy decisions.