A fledgling university spin-off enterprise which specialises in facial mapping technology has the gaming industry in its sights after becoming one of the first firms to benefit from a new fund to support innovation and product development in the West Midlands.
Expert image analysts Fizzog, based at the Venture Centre on Sir William Lyons Road in Coventry, have received a £30,000 grant through the new £5.8 million Advantage Concept Fund, to help develop a new application of biometric algorithms to rapidly map and render 3D models of players for computer games and Internet applications using webcams.
The new fund, which is overseen by the University of Warwick Science Park, has been established by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, with backing from the European Regional Development Fund, to help firms investigate, advance and protect early stage innovative business ideas and to commercialise new innovations.
Dr Li Wang, Chief Technology Officer at early start-up company Fizzog, said: “We are delighted by the support Fizzog has received through the Advantage Concept Fund. The grant is helping us to take our expertise in facial mapping and develop innovative products with strong potential for commercial application.
“We are hopeful the final products will reach the market relatively quickly and easily and be extremely appealing. We are already working closely with the mobile phone gaming industry and have high hopes for our ability to move with the speed of the market and shape trends in gaming. This is a fantastic opportunity for Fizzog.”
David Grindrod, Director of the Advantage Concept Fund and Deputy Director of the University of Warwick Science Park, said: “All high quality applications will be considered regardless of sector, however, priority may be given to the five key technology areas: advanced materials; healthcare technology; energy technology; transportation technology; and digital media.
“We encourage applications from both start-up and trading companies and will endeavour to make the process as straightforward as possible. We will discuss the project early on, ensure detailed application forms are filled in only when we are confident there is a realistic prospect of success, and will provide consultants to help provide guidance in the completion of fund forms.
“Most importantly, we will work with applicants to structure projects to ensure the grant fits in with companies’ business needs.”
Nick Paul CBE, chairman of Advantage West Midlands, recently experienced Fizzog’s technology for himself. Mr Paul said: “The Advantage Concept Fund is designed specifically to support innovative businesses like Fizzog, to help them develop the new products, processes and services which are essential to the successful economic future of the region.
“For companies like Fizzog, innovation drives their economic growth and we are delighted to support this project.
“The Advantage Concept Fund allows Advantage West Midlands to share some of the risks of innovation in SME companies. We know that by the nature of innovation not all of it will succeed but we aim to make a difference by encouraging commitment to new ideas. This enables work to be done earlier than companies could otherwise afford, and often helps to lever in external finance into some early stage enterprises.”