IN4 Group and Ithra partner to accelerate innovation in immersive technologies

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), Saudi Arabia’s leading cultural and creative destination for talent development, and IN4 Group, an award-winning UK technology group, have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish Ithra’s immersive digital and creative media programmes supporting Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Ithra is committed to making a tangible and positive impact on human development by inspiring a passion for knowledge, creativity, and cross-cultural engagement. Launched in 2021, Ithra’s purpose-driven Creative Solutions programme promises to enrich, educate, and inspire creative individuals by developing digital immersive content that connects the participants with global experts and investors to promote and nurture new and innovative products.

The year-long initiative is designed to boost Saudi’s creative economy by empowering digital content creation in immersive technologies. The programme focuses on building an ecosystem of innovators working on artificial intelligence, haptics and virtual, augmented and mixed reality, as well as immersive audio.

This pioneering collaboration will forge stronger ties between Saudi Arabia and the UK and aims to create jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities in immersive and creative media technologies, further boosting the Kingdom’s economic growth.

As part of this, IN4 will be supporting and accelerating Saudi’s Vision 2030 commitment to female empowerment, through its award-winning accelerator programmes, nurturing female entrepreneurs and freelancers to establish and scale their creative digital enterprises. At the heart of the partnership will be the values of humanising technology, by providing local people with fair access to technology futures; belonging in technology, connecting the place to the people; and creating a culture in technology that is equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

The partnership will give Ithra access to IN4’s innovation blueprint, which has a proven pedigree in enabling sustainable innovation ecosystems to generate prosperity. The blueprint consists of developing a highly skilled technology talent pipeline that fast-tracks career changers and career breakers into high-skilled tech career pathways. This activates industry technology adoption through use case development and proof of concept projects and nurtures start-ups to scale through innovation and investment.

IN4 Group and Ithra have already been working closely for over 18 months to support its Creative Solutions programme, which was designed to boost Saudi Arabia’s creative economy by empowering digital content creation in immersive technologies.

Led by IN4’s Immersive Technology Director Simon Benson, the former Director of Immersive Technology at Sony and founder of the PlayStation VR project, the programme delivered masterclasses and skills training in using immersive digital technologies to produce innovative content and experiences.

The Creative Solutions programme which showcased successful projects at Ithra and LEAP 2023, has engaged with over 90 creatives in Saudi Arabia and developed 15 working prototypes (five from the first year and 10 from the second year). Six of the 10 projects were developed through IN4’s Skills City bootcamps. The last cohort was highly diverse and had a strong reach across sectors including art, film, education, and healthcare with most of the participants being women.

IN4 Group is a leading innovation and digital skills provider in the UK that operates Skills City, one of the largest digital skills bootcamps in the country with faculties in Digital Engineering and Gametech. It also operates innovation hubs including HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology in MediaCity, UK, where it established the first UK Unity Centre of Excellence and delivers academic and gametech growth programmes through a state-of-the-art immersive campus and labs.

Mo Isap, CEO of IN4 Group, said: “It’s so exciting that Ithra has chosen us as their key partner to drive immersive innovation and skills as part of its ambitions for Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. Ithra is the epicentre of the Kingdom’s cultural and creative ecosystem, and this collaboration follows the fantastic work we have already established through the Creative Solutions programme, which has been pivotal in generating innovative ideas using the latest immersive technologies.

“We’re fully committed to investing in our long-term future in Saudi Arabia, where we plan to expand our operations and recruit local talent which will only further strengthen international relations between our two nations.”

“We are thrilled to partner with IN4,” said Miznah Alzamil, Head of Creativity and Innovation at Ithra. “The previous cycles have been an indication of how creative and technologically savvy the modern generation is across the Kingdom, and we believe that through this partnership we will continue to develop and showcase Saudi innovation and creativity.”