By Daniel Hunter

East Kent has an opportunity to be a home for creative and digital innovation, but it must take action now. This was the message from industry experts gathered at the Kent Digital Conversation in Margate.

Over 50 entrepreneurs, creative and digital experts, educators and public sector representatives gathered together for the event, which was an exclusive preview ahead of the annual gaming summit GEEK.

Guests took part in roundtable debates and heard from experts from across the UK, including Ashley Stockwell, Guest Academy Director of Wayra, Gina Jackson, CEO of Women in Gaming Jobs and Mark Jennings, digital entrepreneur and founder of #themeetup140.

The sessions, which were chaired by John Newbigin, Chair of Creative England focused on how digital communities can be nurtured, how to encourage collaboration and the importance of education and skills creation.

Mark Jennings said: "Coming to an event like this and seeing the ideas reach across the room is so important in creating a community - it feels like there's the birth of something pretty awesome here."

The event hosted in association with the Grow for It campaign — which encourages business to move or expand their business in East Kent.

The conversation was part of the launch of the GEEK 2013. The annual gaming exhibition featuring retro and modern consoles, artistic innovation in gaming, and highlighting the contribution of gaming and the creative industries to the UK economy

GEEK Organiser Kate Kneale, Director, Marine Studios said: “We look forward to growing GEEK into a major national showcase of digital innovation and creativity. It would be great part of the event included working with companies based here in the S.E

“Alongside the Digital Sector Conversation we ran GEEK2013. GEEK was a four day festival of play and games featuring innovative new public games by international artists and over 1000 retro games and consoles, it attracted over 3000 visitors from France, Holland and Sweden as well as the UK.”

Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr Clive Hart, said: “Hosting this event in Margate was really fitting. We’ve already shown what’s capable of being achieved by encouraging the creative industry to develop here. It’s important that we continue to make the most of new creative and digital opportunities to firmly establish Thanet as a viable place to do business and a fantastic place to live.”

Cllr Mark Dance, cabinet member for regeneration and economic development in East Kent said: “East Kent is a brilliant place to do to live and work, hopefully today will encourage businesses in the digital industry to use the Regional Growth Fund to create a digital hub here in East Kent.”

Nicola Sharman, Genetic Moo, who moved her business from London to Margate six months ago was a guest at the event. She said: “There’s a lot of activity going on here and we’ve easily connected with a lot of people involved with digital arts and IT.”

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