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Southwest Creative Technology Network

The Southwest Creative Technology Network seeks to build links between researchers, businesses and investors with a focus on enhancing innovation in technology and enterprise.

About the project

The South West’s plan to be a world leader in the creative use of digital technology has received a significant boost, with the Government announcing a major funding award to strengthen the region-wide creative technology sector – and Bath Spa University will be one of the lead project partners.

The Government award comes via Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF), which encourages collaborative projects between universities and other partners to drive forward world-class commercialisation of higher education research and practice.

The South West project is one of just 18 selected for support from across England, and the only one which includes a focus on the creative industries. £4.6m has been awarded to the networking project from the CCF, with universities and other partners contributing an additional £1.8m.

The three-year project will focus on building better links between researchers, businesses and investors through activities such as joint research, seed funding for new business ideas, consultancy and training, the creation of new companies and social enterprises, and public and community engagement.

"We are delighted to be working with organisations across the South West on this innovative project which plays to our region's world-leading strengths. This funding will help initiate and strengthen collaborative projects between higher education and the wider community, generating new opportunities to transform how people engage with digital technology.”

Kate Pullinger, Director, Bath Spa's Centre for Culture and Creative Industries

Fellowship Themes

Year one: Immersion

Year One: Immersion (2018-19)

Please see our Frequently asked questions to find out more.

From spatialised sound to augmented reality overlays, emerging technologies give developers, creatives and performers new ways to blend physical and virtual worlds.

However, to fulfil their potential in terms of use, design and implementation, we need to explore immersive experiences from multiple perspectives and in different domains. While significant investment is being made in a range of platforms to deliver immersive experiences, we want to enable bold, interdisciplinary thinking around future content, tools, services and applications. If the potential of immersion is to be fully realised in new markets and emergent forms of cultural experience, bridges between arts and digital technology, marketplace and research, need to be built.

Our interests in immersive work are wide-ranging, inclusive of VR, AR, Mixed Reality, fulldome, projection mapping, ambient technologies, sound, performance and other creative and exploratory approaches. We are also interested in immersive experiences outside of the creative industries, for example in health, training, distributed manufacture, heritage and education.

The kinds of questions we believe require exploration are:

  • What new understandings of immersion do we need?
  • What blueprints do we need to ensure that immersive applications create convincing and accessible experiences?
  • What technical challenges need solutions to support such experiences?
  • What modes of storytelling are required?
  • How can social, multi-user immersive experiences be created?
  • How do we ensure that the design and implementation of immersive experiences across multiple industrial sectors retain a core focus on human experience?
  • What new tools, products and services can be created?

Year two: Automation (2019)

Year Two: Automation

Why Automation?

Automation is changing the way we live; it is increasingly important within the Creative Industries as well as manufacturing, retail, financial services, healthcare and many other industries. Automation could be seen as the ‘quiet’ revolution - working in the background to assist in creative processes, or gradually transforming agriculture through robotics, or re-imagining how we search the internet. We are looking for people to explore the frontiers of automation technology and its applications.

We are excited about innovative uses of technologies that engage users in hybrid experiences that are ethical, promote wellbeing, connect us to one another and create value (this could be money, enjoyment, understanding, or something else you think the world needs more of). SWCTN is rooted in the creative industries but aims to make connections into other sectors. We want to generate shared knowledge, boost creative thinking and expertise, and create new commercial products and services that no one has thought to make before.

The emerging technologies of Automation give developers, creatives and performers new ways to create work, engage audiences and develop relationships across disciplines. Our interests in Automation are wide-ranging, inclusive of robotics, animatronics, analytics, generative and procedural media (such as games, music and video), literature, conversational Artificial Intelligence, online experiences, installations and performance. We are also interested in Automation experiences outside of the creative industries, for example in health, training, distributed manufacture, heritage and education.

We are interested in how Automation innovates through the application of algorithmic and predictive machine learning systems to cultivate new forms of entertainment, games, cultural analytics, advertising, marketing and its increasing capacity to be a ‘creative assistant’.

There is already ground-breaking Automation work coming out of the South West through the application of autonomous systems to a broad range of areas, from fabrication, health, FinTech, transportation, legal services, agriculture, marine, and robotics. Whilst there has been some innovation in machine learning and algorithmic processes across these sectors, such as social robotics and e-Health, our ambition is to grow new relationships and encourage innovation in other areas.

The kinds of questions we believe need to be explored are:

  • What new understandings of automation do we need?
  • What technical challenges need solutions to support experiences and relationships with and through autonomous systems?
  • What are the ethical, creative and social impacts of automation?
  • How can meaningful experiences be created through a dialogue with Artificial Intelligent systems and physical robots
  • What new roles do authors, creatives and audiences play in an automated world?
  • What new tools, products and services can be created?

Year three: Data

Fellowships: call for applicants now open

SWCTN is offering up to twenty-four paid fellowships around the theme of Automation. More information can be found in the Call for Automation Fellows (PDF).

The South West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN) will offer three one-year funded programmes around the themes of Immersion, Automation & Data. As new technologies raise new challenges and opportunities for businesses, this partnership is designed to respond to industry needs across the creative industries, health and manufacturing sectors and drive productivity and innovation.

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. This new network is led by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), in partnership with Watershed in Bristol, Kaleider in Exeter, Bath Spa University, the University of Plymouth and Falmouth University.

Each year-long programme will be led by a team of producers working across the region to build creative capacity, generate shared knowledge and maximise potential for specific commercial impact.

Each programme will offer 24 R&D Fellowships worth £15,000 each (8 creative industry Fellowships, 8 academic Fellowships and 8 new talent residencies at graduate level). This fellowship programme will co-design a call for 8 prototype products or services with business partners worth £30,000 each.

Sample timeline (example for Immersion)

  • Brainstorming and thinking will occur between October - December 2018.
  • This will be followed by a sharing amongst the cohort, who will then co-design a call brief with the producers and University leads around what should be made in response to the brainstorm period.
  • They will then have a chance to pitch to this call for a prototype grant from a £240k funding pot
  • There will then be an Open Call for any remaining prototyping grants in January 2019
  • Prototyping for all participants will run through March, April and May 2019
  • An industry showcase will be held for all 8 prototypes in June 2019

The Automation and Data themes will run along a similar schedule across 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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