Bristol’s creative talent plugs into digital project to put South West at the leading edge of screen media

June 26, 2020

A pioneering project involving many of Bristol’s leading creative businesses, alongside both its universities and a number of its arts groups, is aiming to make the South West an international trailblazer in screen-based media.

The MyWorld initiative could generate more than 700 jobs across the region through new digital formats and technologies, creating innovative experiences across fiction, documentary, games, and live performance. 

The aim is to develop major new research and development (R&D) facilities and partnerships connecting the region’s universities and other regional and national partners with global tech giants, including Netflix, Google and Microsoft.

The hub is predicted to boost the regional economy by £223m by sparking collaborations between world-leading academic institutions and creative industries on pioneering technological innovation, creative excellence, inclusive cultures and knowledge sharing.

The £46m, five-year project, which is due to start by the end of this year, will be led by the University of Bristol in collaboration with UWE, University of Bath and Bath Spa University, who will provide advanced training programmes and talent development which will feed into an extensive knowledge exchange network.

Also taking part in what is being described as a unique cross-sector consortium will be the Bristol Old Vic, the BBC, Bristol-based Aardman Animations, BT, the government’s Digital Catapult, along with a host of other creative companies and sector organisations, including Bath Theatre Royal Trust.

Accessible facilities are also planned, with Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, the city’s Bottle Yard film and TV studios and Bath Spa University as key focal points.

The project will be led by Prof David Bull, director of the Bristol Vision Institute, which brings together 170 experts from the worlds of engineering, computer science, biological sciences, psychology, ophthalmology, history of art, film & television and medicine with the aim of addressing grand challenges in vision research.

He said: “The South West is already a creative capital in the UK and MyWorld aims to position the region among the best in the world, driving inward investment, increasing productivity and delivering important employment and training opportunities.

“This is the beginning of an exciting journey, which will align research and development endeavours across technology and the creative arts, to help businesses realise their innovation potential, raise their international profile, and maximise the advantages of new technologies.”

Prof Hugh Brady, vice-chancellor and president of the University of Bristol, added: “This funding award is tremendous news for the university, the city of Bristol, and the entire South West region, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty that could hit the creative sector hard.

“In recent weeks, screen-based technologies have transformed the way we interact with each other professionally and personally, providing a lifeline in so many different ways.

“Uniting Bristol’s world-leading interdisciplinary research with the very best creative talent, locally and further afield, will strengthen and expand these relationships, allowing us to collectively cross new frontiers.”

Some £30m funding for the MyWorld creative hub has come from the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) with a further £16m from an alliance of more than 30 industry and academic partners.  joining forces in the five-year scheme

The initiative is among seven projects nationally selected to share £186m government funding as part of the UKRI’s SIPF. The successful projects have all been under development with UKRI pilot funding since last year.

David Sweeney, Research England’s Executive Chair, who leads the Strength in Places Fund, said: “UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund is distinctive in specifically targeting investment to foster the local research and innovation ecosystems that can support sustained growth.

“All of these projects have the potential to deliver research and innovation that will transform activity within their target industries, in a way that is deeply rooted in local strengths and well linked to wider local economic plans.”

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