A collaboration between West of England universities and businesses in the creative technology sector will benefit from a multi-million pound investment from the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Creative Industries Clusters Programme, to support, connect and boost regional strengths in this area.
The Bristol and Bath Creative Industries Cluster is a new programme designed to improve the performance of the creative industries in and around the region. It combines research from the universities of Bath and Bath Spa, with that from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). It also brings together the Watershed in Bristol and a host of companies working across design, broadcast, performance, technology, publishing and other sectors.
Through recent reports, the creative sector in the region has been highlighted as having huge potential for international growth in the coming years and significant competitive advantage. ‘Bristol & Bath Creative R&D’ builds upon the success of the AHRC-supported REACT programme, a four-year initiative to increase industry - academic collaborations which has generated over £7.5m of economic activity.
Building on regional creative strengths
Building on existing thematic strengths in the region including XR (immersive experiences), live performance and 5G, the injection of new funding, announced today (Friday 7 September) will support new development labs, fellowship schemes and large project funding. A key element to this will be in partnering with industry to understand user engagement in new platforms, which will draw on work in VR and immersive technologies already happening at the University of Bath.
Professor Danae Stanton Fraser (Department of Psychology) who leads the CREATE Lab on Human Computer Interaction along with Professor Darren Cosker (Department of Computer Science), Director of CAMERA, will both head up this work for the University.
Professor Stanton Fraser said: “The University of Bath has a key strength in interdisciplinary research with the creative industries, exemplified by a number of UKRI research projects such as Virtual Realities, CAMERA, the Centre for Digital Entertainment and the REACT Hub. We are very excited about the potential of this new programme of work to deliver transformative research with the creative industries in Bristol and Bath.”
Professor Darren Cosker explained: “This is an excellent opportunity to truly leverage the academic and industrial strength in the region, which will lead to innovative new research and productions. The creative industries are one of the jewels of the UK economy – with the South West playing a leading role. The cluster programme will help us maintain our global competitiveness at a time where new and exciting opportunities such as XR are emerging.”
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jonathan Knight added: “This new AHRC funding is a fantastic endorsement of the already-excellent work taking place across the region in creative technologies. We’re excited to continue to build our strength in this area at Bath while partnering with colleagues at other universities and from industry to help scale-up research that will contribute significant economic returns as part of the Industrial Strategy and set a course for the future direction of travel for creative technologies.”
Partnering with business
Business partners in designing and delivering the programme include BBC, BDH, Crack Magazine, Creative Bath, Open Bionics, YellowDog, TLT, Drummer TV, Silverback Films, Audible, Aardman, Xmos, RSC, Yogscast, Sensible Object, Strange Thoughts, Mayk, Knowle West Media Centre, and Creative Youth Network.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which is part of UK Research and Innovation, funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects. The Industrial Strategy sets out a long term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. It sets out how we are building a Britain fit for the future – how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure.