Award gives Edinburgh creative edge

​​​​​​​An initiative that seeks to make Edinburgh 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.

Major investment

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.

Experts at the University will work with Edinburgh Napier University, 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.

As a city, Edinburgh has had outstanding success in building technology driven companies, but there has been a huge amount of untapped potential within the creative industries to build disruptive and transformative businesses. This project will be a launchpad for some of the most exciting companies in Britain, and will drive the next wave of job growth in Edinburgh.

Jamie ColemanCoFounder and Chairman

Creative collaborations

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.

"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. 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.

Dr Michael SmythAssociate Professor in Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing and Project Co-Director

Enhancing entrepreneurship

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.

Data-driven innovation

The Partnership is part of the University of Edinburgh’s role in the recently announced Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, which aims to help 10 sectors, including the creative industries, to benefit from data-driven innovation.

It represents a foundational part of the University’s Edinburgh Futures Institute, which will open in the former Royal Infirmary in 2021.

This significant grant from AHRC will deepen our relationship with cultural partners and industries across the Edinburgh region and beyond. Together, we will cultivate and support the growth of data-driven innovation for, and across, the creative industries.

Project Director Professor Chris SpeedUniversity of Edinburgh Centre for Design Informatics

Nationwide initiative

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

A new Policy and Evidence Centre for the sector led by global innovation foundation Nesta, with partners across the UK, will connect organisations in the creative industries, research communities, and policy-makers to develop independent evidence and analysis that can inform decision-making across the industry and underpin future policy decisions.

This Creative Informatics cluster will help to deliver the objectives of the BBC-led Data Science Research Partnership, of which Edinburgh is a valued partner, in particular for developing new AI-assisted production methods. As we have tested at the Edinburgh Festivals, audiences also support these data-driven innovations that help them discover new content around live and catch-up events, and also allow their own user-generated content to be used to better effect using machine learning. For our audiences with accessibility needs, this R&D Partnership will test new ways of personalising the narrative, and making it interactive, using AI. With hands on involvement from BBC Scotland, BBC Online aswell as BBC Research and Development we will be supporting this cluster with end-to-end input from across the broadcasting chain.

Andy ConroyController of BBC Research and Development

Related links

Find out more about the AHRC R&D investment

Edinburgh Futures Institute 

Edinburgh Napier University 


Creative Edinburgh