One of the pioneers of the UK games industry has told North East business leaders that companies must think creatively in order to be successful.

Ian Livingstone CBE, who has launched games including Tomb Raider and Dungeons & Dragons, was speaking at the launch of the latest highly successful Leading Growth programme run by Teesside University.

Leading Growth is a fully funded leadership and management programme designed specifically for SME business leaders in the Tees Valley.

As well as hearing from Ian Livingstone, the event also gave interested SME owners/managers the chance to learn about Leading Growth 2018, which provides a blended approach to learning and includes an overnight experiential, site visits, think tanks with expert facilitators, business coaching and action learning sets.

Ian, who co-founded Games Workshop as well as authoring the Fighting Fantasy books and helping set up computer games company Eidos, spoke to the audience about his career and also the importance of creative subjects in the school curriculum.

He said that while the creative industries and the skills which underpin them are often dismissed by the media as frivolous, or not important, the creative sector is one of the most lucrative sectors of the UK economy and deserves to be treated as such.

He also advised businesses that where possible they should always look to retain control of their intellectual property.

He said: “The value of any businesses is in its IP. The creative economy is where the majority of the value of any company is.”

He added that there needed to be a greater understanding of creative sectors by finance companies. At the same time, many creative companies lack the skills to make themselves investor-ready.

Laura Woods, Director of The Forge, Teesside University’s business hub, said: “Ian has had a fantastically successful career, founding a number of extremely innovative and creative businesses.

“He gave some invaluable advice to the SME owners and managers in the audience.

“The Leading Growth programme has been specifically designed for small businesses in order to help them meet the challenges of expanding their business and attracting investment.

“Through our networks and development programmes, we‘re able to give SMEs real practical help in overcoming the obstacles to growth that Ian identified.”

For more information on Leading Growth and the business engagement services offered by Teesside University visit