iBurbia Studios and Salford Council in MediaCity dispute
The managing director of iBurbia Studios, Nigel Walley, has told Prolific North he now intends to sue Salford Council after his company pulled out of a contract to run the on-site innovations lab for The Landing at MediaCity, a development which has been part funded and is run by Salford Council.
iBurbia officially withdrew from the contract last November.
It describes itself as a “group of separate media strategy and research companies specialising in emerging, digital media”.
The company was founded in 1998.
iBurbia currently runs an interactive media and games testing lab in Chiswick and had bid for the Salford contract in the hope of establishing a similar presence at MediaCityUK.
However, after winning the pitch last July, Walley said they began to discover problems from early September that left the facility "unusable".
Walley said the facility should have been handed over to iBurbia by September, but claims there were "significant errors" relating to sound proofing in particular and to the lack of technology installed on site as promised within the contract.
Walley also claimed that Peel Media, the landlords, were not able to ensure access to key TV platforms at the lab such as Sky, Virgin Media, YouView and Freesat, which iBurbia required in order to undertake their consumer research.
Peel declined the opportunity to comment and a spokesperson from Salford Council said they were unaware of any existing legal action.
Walley added that iBurbia, whose Northern operation is currently based at Peel's Greenhouse development in MediaCity, now intends to set up a rival lab in the centre of Manchester and he is hoping to be able to confirm his plans in the next few weeks.
He said iBurbia would be investing up to £100,000 in equipment for the new facility which would initially create five or six jobs.
Separately and in an ironic twist of events, Walley has also been recently appointed by the trade lobbying body Manchester Digital, to chair its new TV Tech group, which was created to foster closer ties between the city's digital and broadcast communities. The new sub group was formally launched in Manchester's Northern Quarter last week at an event attended by numerous media companies including Sky, the BBC and ITV.
Jon Corner, chief executive of The Landing, also declined to respond to Walley's claims but did state that: “The interactive media labs at The Landing are the most advanced in the region and will be a fantastic resource for SMEs in interactive technologies and games.”