Only in Catalunya there are more than 74 videogame companies that employ almost 1,000 people and have combined revenues of more than €70 million. Gaming companies such as Socialpoint, Akamon, King.com or Ubisoft are headquartered or have offices in Barcelona, showing the importance of gaming in the region. And Gamebcn wants to join the party.
Gamebcn describes itself as “gaming the incubator for the South of Europe” and is currently looking for 10 talented teams and early stage projects that want to validate and grow their product. The initiative is run by Barcelona-based accelerator Incubio with the help of Venture Capital firm Caixa Capital Risc and other public entities.
The incubator is aimed, although not exclusively, towards gaming projects that have been developed at universities or educational institutions that are not yet fully-fledged startups. For four months the ten teams chosen will be based at Barcelona Growth Center and will receive €4,000 for free to cover “living expenses” and mentorship from various local entrepreneurs, including Gerard Fernández (CEO of Omnidrone, who raised $2 million in March from London Venture Partners, Kibo Ventures and Nokia Growth Partners), Daniel Sánchez Crespo (Novarama), Xavier Carrillo (Digital Legends) or Ramón Nafria (A Crowd of Monsters).
As usual, the teams will pitch their startups in front of the press and investors at the end of the program. The three best teams (there’s no indication on what criteria will be used to choose them) will have the opportunity of participating in a acceleration program that will last an additional eight months. I asked members of Caixa Capital Risc what the conditions of the accelerator part will be and I was told that “they have yet to be specified”. The firm did say that “the idea is that Gamebcn’s associates will invest in the companies via convertible notes”.
Vertical accelerators and Barcelona’s gaming ecosystem
Gamebcn is the first gaming incubator/accelerator to be launched in Spain and one of the few to be specialized in a particular vertical or industry. Startupbootcamp’s Internet of Things and Big Data program is another example of this trend and will also be located in Barcelona. At a European level Gamebcn will compete with Gamefounders, launched in 2012 and based in Tallinn.
That said, the city of Barcelona doesn’t need an incubator to validate its position as a true European gaming hub. King.com -which recently went public- and Ubisoft have studios in the city that employ more than 150 people and local startups such as Akamon ($4.6 raised and expected to surpass $20 million in revenue in 2014), Socialpoint ($44 million raised from Greylock Partners, IDInvest Partners and others) or the aforementioned Omnidrone have helped put Barcelona in the map.
Let’s hope Gamebcn is able to provide help at the early stage and increase, even more, the talent in the region.