Game Academy, Social Impact and Zinc, the “company builder”

Game Academy
4 min readJun 19, 2019
Zinc Mission 2 Cohort, October 2018, London

This year’s Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, the world’s largest IT leadership survey, pin-pointed skills shortages as a major limitation on the performance of business and industry. Shortages are now at their most acute since 2008. 67% of businesses have a critical issue.

With Amazon recently rolling out 200,000 robots across 50 warehouses and two NHS hospitals in London introducing software to automate certain back office functions, the concept of a “robot workforce” also appears now to be rapidly becoming a reality.

Two priorities for the global economy are clear. First, source workers with appropriate technical and digital skills. Second, grow a workforce of people who can work well with machines and embrace a new era of collaborative robotics, bots and processes that adapt to real-time data.

Game Academy is a new ‘sidecar’ tech companion for video gamers and part of Zinc, an astonishing organisation in London that helps entrepreneurs build new companies with a social purpose.

We say: to address skills shortages and the workforce challenge of the future, look no further than the ranks of video game players. What’s more, make a big social impact along the way.

Zinc founders creative insight meet-up, Spring 2019

Founded by investor entrepreneur Saul Klein, social policy and government advisor Paul Kirby and start-up entrepreneur Ella Goldner, Zinc is a process that enables entrepreneurs to find co-founders, build a business idea, test it and render it investment-ready.

We’ve benefitted hugely from the programme.

Since October 2018, Zinc has inspired us to address the issue of the impact of automation and globalisation on society by developing a new venture to enable video gamers to capitalise IRL on their in-game talent.

Over 70% of people who run businesses in the UK say they can’t find the right people with the right skills; and research proves that many gamers have those skills — be they digital, technical, ‘soft’ or slave to solving complex problems.

What’s more, over half of the population in the UK plays video games, with a bias towards people living and working in places whose economies are exposed especially to the impact of globalisation and automation.

Neuroscientist and AI expert Dr Vivienne Ming, Zinc, 2019

In starting our venture, Zinc has provided us with insight from exceptional tech entrepreneurs and professionals, be it the founder of Monzo, senior employees past and present of the likes of Google and Amazon, top-class investors and others changing the weather of culture and commerce.

We’ve benefitted from top-class mentorship, access to resources, knowledge, contacts, a community of driven entrepreneurs and much much more.

Two Game Academy Founders (centre) — Saar Shai & Irina Agafonova, Spring 2019

Thanks to Zinc, our team at Game Academy has had an opportunity to grow an unique 30k+ dataset that correlates game play with career choices.

We’ve built exceptional insight based upon research into the talent of gamers and an early community of confidantes of 50+ mid- and hardcore players.

And we’ve started to design and test a prototype service for gamers and employers that will feature online courses, live streams, achievement analytics, unique talent indexes and more.

Another Game Academy founder — David Barrie, Winter 2018

As games get bigger and bigger as a phenomenon, with 2.5bn players around the world and worth up to $138bn in 2018...

As games become social networks, communications platforms, places of sport and spectacle and a big driver of the future of ‘the cloud’…

As the likes of Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon grow their presence in the market…

…now is a good, if not the best, time to build out the engagement and experience of users.

Now is also a time to pay attention to the value of games, as a media that demands talent, expresses talent and harbours the hidden talent of millions of people, in their homes, neighbourhoods, schools and places of work.


Zinc’s next mission is “to add 5 more years of high quality to later life”. — and the company builder is looking for “talented and ambitious people who want to start new companies.” #ZincM3

For more on Game Academy, follow us on Facebook. If you’d like to work with us more closely on development of the venture, do join our private Facebook group.