New £6.3m ‘digital academy’ including Esports arena opens at college in Northampton

“Gaming is no longer a hobby – it’s a genuine career choice.”

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 2:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 2:14 pm
The new digital academy.

A multi-million-pound ‘digital academy’ has opened at Northampton College including one of the region’s first dedicated Esports arenas.

Partly funded by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership’s (SEMLEP) Local Growth Fund, the £6.3million digital academy at Booth Lane includes a TV studio, digital workshops, a Mac suite and a digital design studio and a range of specialist facilities and equipment.

The new academy was opened on Tuesday (November 23) by chair of SEMLEP, Peter Horrocks CBE.

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Peter Horrocks of SEMLEP opening the new Digital Academy with Northampton College principal Pat Brennan-Barrett.

Principal of Northampton College, Pat Brennan-Barrett, said: “Our digital academy is far more than classrooms and computer screens – it is a place where the future will be created before our very eyes.

“We live in a world where the rapid development of technology allows us to be smarter, more connected and more ambitious than ever before, and our new digital academy is fully equipped to train the next generation of digital experts.

“Our courses and apprenticeships allow individuals to explore digital careers and progress through a pathway of qualifications leading to higher education, apprenticeships and employment.

“By working closely with industry professionals to develop each of our programmes, these courses will lead to real-life job opportunities for our students.”

Flagship programmes to be run in the multi-million-pound digital academy include Esports and Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, alongside the college’s already-popular Games Design courses.

The fully equipped Esports arena will allow students to take part in competitive gaming against other colleges across the country.

Jake Zelkowicz, assistant principal for the school of Arts, Digital and Creative Industries at Northampton College, said: “Gaming is no longer a hobby – it’s a genuine career choice with potentially significant rewards, and Northampton College students will be at the forefront of this growing industry.

“They have access to a state-of-the-art learning environment which perfectly prepares them for 21st century working life, sparking their imaginations to produce a new generation of digital pioneers that will shape our futures.”

Guests at the opening were also able to see a demonstration from the team behind the network of Starship delivery robots and a performance from college music students before watching games design students take part in an online ‘Valorant’ tournament in the Esports Arena complete with live ‘shoutcasting’ and production in the purpose-built control room.