£6.5m project aims to drive digital innovation in the South West

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A project worth £6.5million is being launched across the South West to expand the use of digital technologies throughout the region’s creative, health and manufacturing sectors.

The new Creative Technology Network will bring together universities and industrial partners, pooling their research and innovation expertise to develop cutting-edge practices, techniques and products in creative digital technologies.

Supported by a grant from RESEARCH ENGLAND, and led by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), the three-year project is a partnership with Watershed in Bristol, Kaleider in Exeter, Bath Spa University, the University of Plymouth and Falmouth University.

UWE Bristol Professor Jon Dovey is leading the project for the DCRC

As new technology, including automation and big data, raises new challenges and opportunities for businesses, this partnership is designed to respond to industry needs across the health and manufacturing sectors and the creative industries, driving productivity and resilience.

The grant is part of RESEARCH ENGLAND’s Connecting Capabilities Fund, which supports university collaboration and encourages commercialisation of products made through partnerships with industry. The funding will kick-start the project, which begins in April.

Professor Martin Boddy, who is Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Business Engagement at UWE Bristol, said, “We are immensely proud to be taking the lead on this exciting project which builds on UWE Bristol’s vision to work with partners to enhance innovation across the region and nationally. This new network will stimulate the regional economy and will undoubtedly lead to new products and new ways of working, all thanks to shared research experience and technical expertise.”

Professor Jon Dovey, who is Professor of Screen Media at the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries, and Education at UWE Bristol and leading the project for the Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC) said, “This project will bring together the best and the brightest researchers in creative arts, technology and design to work with companies old and new to show what new kinds of value can be unlocked by the application of creative technologies.

“We are going to be working with immersive media, processes of automation and the new availability of big data to support business to find new ways of working with their customers and our citizens. Watch this space for the amazing new products and services we invent in the next three years.”

 

Enterprise network helps creatives develop ideas into sustainable businesses

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Creative entrepreneurs and small companies in the West of England looking to develop their ideas into a sustainable business are invited have the opportunity to join the Network for Creative Enterprise.

This tailored programme of SME support is designed to help creative practitioners access knowledge, expand their network and benefit from invaluable business support to help their venture gain momentum.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Arts Council England, the scheme is a partnership between the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and the Watershed. It also incorporates incubation ‘hubs’ operated by Knowle West Media Centre, Spike Island, and Pervasive Media Studio – all based in Bristol – and The Guild, located in Bath.

ArtfulInnovationExports_shamphat_photography-logo-gradientThese creative hubs offer tailored events, workshops and mentoring for individuals and small enterprises to support their business development from the idea stage through to start-up and on to growth.

“I am delighted that UWE Bristol is working with partners to support entrepreneurs in the creative industries sector through this project and helping to drive innovation and growth,” said Professor Martin Boddy, UWE Bristol’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Business Engagement. “The Cultural Industries across the UK are a very significant and fast-expanding sector, with Bristol a key centre of national and international importance. We will be working hard to help the sector innovate and expand, with a number of further important initiatives already in the pipeline,” he said.

The four creative hubs provide unique opportunities for creative entrepreneurs. While The Factory at Knowle West Media Centre offers facilities such as product design and prototyping services, Spike Island is an international centre for the development of contemporary art and design with opportunities for artists to take up residency. The Guild is a co-working space for start-ups – not just creative – and the Pervasive Media Studio hosts a community of people exploring creative technology as they work in a collaborative studio where they can explore and test out new ideas.

Whichever hub individuals are associated with, they can attend any of the workshops and mentoring sessions that take place across the four locations throughout the year. These sessions cover useful topics such as how to build a brand, writing good design briefs, business models, and mapping business growth.

The Network for Creative Enterprise is delivered by a team of producers. Their role is to spot creative potential, make connections across the region, deliver one-to-one support for the resident businesses and nurture the development of their creative ideas.

Watershed Managing Director Dick Penny said, “Growth in the cultural and creative industries relies on a constant supply of talented people with great ideas, often working freelance. Network for Creative Enterprise will build on the work of the consortium partners to create an innovative networked incubation approach, developing and growing creative micro enterprises which are often the invisible engine of the creative economy.”

The programme runs until June 2019. To apply for one of the residency opportunities, click here.

Network for Creative Enterprise is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Arts Council England. It will be receiving up to £500,000 of funding from the ERDF, as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014-2020. Established by the European Union and Managed in the UK by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that support innovation, businesses, job creation and local community regeneration.