Cronos Group sets up investment fund for Belgian gaming industry, together with partners

13/10/2021

The university college Howest, the technology investor Cronos Group and BNP Paribas Fortis want to give Belgian game companies a boost through an investment fund. The capital of ForsVC can reach up to 15 million euros in the coming years.


174.9 billion dollars. That's how much turnover the global video game industry recorded in 2020. By 2024, it would be 218.7 billion. Video games generate a lot more revenue worldwide than film and music together," says Arne Ottoy, executive director of ForsVC. This new investment fund will be presented on Wednesday at the Unwrap Festival in Kortrijk. There the gaming, film and music sectors gather for panel discussions, keynote speeches and networking events.

In recent years there has also been an explosion of video game start-ups in Belgium. In addition, a top training program for game makers is located in Kortrijk. Digital Arts and Entertainment (DAE) at Howest University of Applied Sciences was recently named the best video game design and development program in the world for the third time by The Rookies, a community of digital artists.

The college Howest, the technology investor Cronos Group and BNP Paribas Fortis want to give Belgian game companies a boost through an investment fund. The capital of ForsVC could reach 15 million euros in the coming years.

174.9 billion dollars. That's how much turnover the global video game industry recorded in 2020. By 2024, it would be 218.7 billion. Video games generate a lot more revenue worldwide than film and music together," says Arne Ottoy, executive director of ForsVC. This new investment fund will be presented on Wednesday at the Unwrap Festival in Kortrijk. There the gaming, film and music sectors gather for panel discussions, keynote speeches and networking events.

In recent years there has also been an explosion of video game start-ups in Belgium. In addition, a top training program for game makers is located in Kortrijk. Digital Arts and Entertainment (DAE) at Howest University of Applied Sciences was recently named the best video game design and development program in the world for the third time by The Rookies, a community of digital artists.

Howest, the Cronos Group and BNP Paribas Fortis are setting up the ForsVC fund. This will invest in the growing Belgian games sector. The global sector is larger than the film and music business combined.

The fund will amount to EUR 10 million to EUR 15 million. It will attract institutional investors and family offices as investors.

ForsVC will take minority participations and do project financing.

Yet Belgium is lagging behind, according to the founders of the fund. ForsVC wants to change this. 'The intention is to have more strong gaming companies in Belgium and in West Flanders,' says Lode De Geyter, general manager of Howest. '60 percent of our students do an internship abroad. Many talented graduates stay in centers like London, Montreal and Singapore.'

With ForsVC funding, the sector in Belgium should become so strong that international students decide to build their careers here. 'Games don't just need to be made, they need to be discovered. Sufficient talent must be attracted, but now there is a brain drain to foreign countries. Studios need to learn to make market studies before they start projects,' says Ottoy.

ForsVC is raising 6.5 million euros to start with. 'After that, closings may follow to land on a total of 10 to 15 million euros,' says Sam Bambust, who is a director of the fund and a partner at the Cronos Group. The funds come from institutional partners and family offices. 'The total amount is tailored to the size of the sector,' says Bambust. 'If this is a success, there will be a successor fund fairly soon,' adds Ottoy.

The Cronos Group has strong representation on the management team. Ottoy, a tax lawyer, has set up a tax shelter intermediary within that group, and Kristof Vaes is helping to guide its merger and acquisition strategy. Still in management is Demis Holvoet, who manages the gaming cluster in the group. Michiel Houwen comes from DAE Studios, a joint venture of Howest with the Cronos Group and the Ghent game company Larian. 'The Cronos Group is co-founding, but the fund will pursue an independent course,' Bambust stressed.


Source: De Tijd, translated by Leuven MindGate