Major award aims to give arts in Edinburgh a creative edge

Creative Informatics hub to be developed at Merchiston

Date posted

7 September 2018


A pioneering initiative that seeks to enhance Edinburgh’s reputation as a world-class centre for the creative industries has received a multi-million pound boost.

The funding will create a partnership that uses data from a range of organisations to encourage innovation across the sector. The award will help to create jobs and transform the ways that people experience culture, project leaders say.

The award is part of an £80 million nationwide creative industries initiative from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) – the largest-ever single investment in the sector. The Scottish Funding Council will provide further financial support.

Edinburgh Napier will work with experts at the University of Edinburgh, Creative Edinburgh, and CodeBase, the largest technology incubator in the UK. The new Creative Informatics R&D Partnership will serve the city and its surrounding region.

The cash injection will support the development of a studio space at the Merchiston campus which will become a hub for Creative Informatics, as well as strengthening links between the university and the creative industries.

A key strand of the partnership will be a scheme to improve data literacy in Edinburgh. It will bring together more than 25 organisations – including the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fruitmarket Gallery and the BBC.

Over the next five years, it will also seek to create more than 60 new businesses. These will use data-driven technology to develop new products, services and visitor experiences.

The funding will also encourage entrepreneurs to work in innovative ways with the city’s festivals, to collaborate with museums, libraries and galleries, and to create new tools for the city’s design community.

Project leaders suggest that the collaboration could lead to new commercial products for home entertainment, new ways to buy products and services by experiencing them first, and innovative online experiences for remote participation.

It will also help to explore new synergies in the digital archives of the national collections, for example National Museums Scotland’s unique archive of the work of fashion designer Jean Muir.

Dr Michael Smyth, Associate Professor in Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing and Project Co-Director, said: "This major new funding will contribute to the development of a dedicated studio space at Edinburgh Napier’s Merchiston Campus. This will become an important hub for the Creative Informatics Partnership, and it will be a fantastic resource for exploring and developing new forms of data-enabled products and services.

“As well as working with the creative and entertainment industries, our research will cut across the disciplines of computing and design. Together with existing facilities such as design and fabrication workshops, and the Sensorium - a specialist lab for evaluating User Experience - the new studio space will play an important role in the university’s plans to develop the creative campus at Merchiston. 

"The exciting links that will be developed with the creative industries will offer students an insight into how this important sector functions, and how it contributes to the wider UK economy.”

The Creative Informatics Partnership is one of nine AHRC clusters across the UK, designed to encourage collaboration between internationally-renowned creative industries and universities.

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