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

Professor Mike Phillips, Director of Research at i-DAT at the University of Plymouth

A £6.5million project 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.

As new technology, including immersive, automation and big data, poses fresh challenges and offers opportunities to 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 Mike Phillips, Director of Research at i-DAT at the University of Plymouth, said:

“Digital technologies are transforming the way we work and play, and this collaborative initiative focuses on some of the most exciting aspects of this evolution. The use of Data to improve our understanding of complex problems, the ability to generate powerful immersive experiences and the insights generated by artificial intelligence provide completely new perspectives on the world. We look forward to focusing the wealth of research experience we have in these areas to nurture innovation across the region.”

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 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."

Professor Tanya Krzywinska, project lead for Falmouth University, said:

“Falmouth University is geared for digital creative innovation, so we are delighted to be part of this initiative. The creative economy provides one in 11 jobs and is one of the fastest growing sectors of the UK economy. Building on the region’s well-established digital expertise, this collaborative project offers real opportunities to deliver economic impact for the South West.”

Professor Kate Pullinger, Director of the Centre for Culture and Creative Industries at Bath Spa University, said: 

“The creative industries – from the smallest micro-businesses to the larger players – are a hugely important asset for our region and the UK as a whole, and this collaborative project is going to generate new opportunities which will transform how we engage with ideas and digital technology across the sector. We are delighted to be working with colleagues across the South West on a project which plays to our region's world-leading strengths.”

Institute of Digital Art and Technology (iDAT) 

i-DAT is an Open Research Lab for playful experimentation with creative technology.
We co-create and share technological prototypes and practices, that push and challenge the boundaries of digital arts and creative media practice. Our main focus is on making ‘data’ tangible, playable and readily available as a material, to generate new meaning and inform participation, audience engagement and innovation in the arts.