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Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange Projects

Details of the awards made under the collective banner of Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange (CE KE) Projects.

In 2013 these 12 projects took forward innovative knowledge exchange activities developed from a number of high quality proposals to the call for Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy.

CE KE Projects align with AHRC’s ambitions to strengthen the impact of arts and humanities research in the creative economy and form a key part of our strategic portfolio of support in this area. Specifically they will deliver a diverse range of new partnerships and complement the activities of the AHRC’s four Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy.

Collaborative Arts Triple Helix, Dr Richard Clay, University of Birmingham

The CATH project used a voucher scheme and a series of four cross-sector workshops to establish 19 small-scale teams that enabled academics from Birmingham and Leicester to work in partnership with an SME and a Small Cultural Organisation (SCO) to explore productive collaborations.

The team also conducted research relating to the barriers to such collaborative work experienced by stakeholders in each of the three partner sectors (creative SMEs, SCOs, academics), and the ways in which such barriers can be and are overcome.

Stories of User Appropriation, Dr Sharon Baurley, Brunel University

The project aims to transfer knowledge about creative innovation processes from the creative economy to the wider economy, by combining design-drama techniques with digitally-enabled open innovation platforms to engage users in the design process. Through this, the project will stimulate exchange between research from user-centred design, drama and film, as well as from the digital economy, and SMEs. As a focal point of ‘creativity’ the creative economy has a vital role to play in innovation across the wider economy. This project will focus on the healthcare domain as a particularly appropriate area for innovation in KE practices to be achieved through the co-development of digital platforms that make user-centred design techniques accessible, and thereby providing a case study on B2B linkages between creative businesses and healthcare firms.

For further information, please see the project website.

The Creative Economy, Digital Technology and Innovation, Professor Simon Goldhill, University of Cambridge

The rapidly unfolding revolution in digital technologies continues to have profound effects on the major institutions of the creative economy, especially the library, the publishing house, the museum and the institutions and businesses involved in the development of digital technologies. One of the major aims of this project is to link these institutions and utilize the untapped potential in knowledge exchange by creating an active interface for users and producers within the creative economy.

The project:

  • explore the potential in the technology of the mobile phone and tablet application where there is a huge creative opportunity to create apps which give much deeper object histories, which link producers of knowledge with archives and offer multi-medium experiences to enrich the experience within the museum or library. The aim is to develop work which will stimulate, educate and direct future development in this area.
  • develop a "best practice" document for such technology investigating the tensions between democratic ideals of open and free access to knowledge, and exchange of knowledge versus the demands of copyright together with the concern for the circulation of illegal or damaging materials that requires regulation. The document will aim to lay out the issues and solutions in a systematic way.
  • research the complex legal issues of copyright in the sophisticated and rapidly changing world of digital humanities and explore the issues of practical regulation e.g. can sensible regulations be established which take account of the demands of copyright and the power of the phone for visual reproduction?

Supporting Creative Businesses: the cultural enterprise office and its clients, Professor Philip Schlesinger, University of Glasgow

The Cultural Enterprise Office (CEO) was established in 2002. It was supported by Creative Scotland, Aberdeen City Council, Dundee City Council, The City of Edinburgh Council and Glasgow City Council and its services are delivered in partnership with the Business Gateway network. It supports cultural micro-businesses offering services - using specialist advisers - in digital development, equalities, finance, taxation, human resources, legal affairs, press and publicity, property, marketing and retail to a range of creative sectors. To understand how it fulfils its objectives and ask what strategic lessons may be drawn from its overall experience the CEO is making its rich database of relations with a wide range of clients across a gamut of cultural practices available for analysis with a view to increasing the CEO's effectiveness and its understanding of the tacit and implicit knowledge that is used in dealing with clients. The research team will offer real time analysis of interactions between clients and the CEO's executive and advisory teams to assess areas of success and those that might be improved. The research will therefore constitute an unprecedented analysis of the workings of a cultural support body and how it engages in knowledge exchange in the creative economy. At the same time, because the research will add very significant new analysis to the CEO's knowledge base, it also exemplifies how academics can engage in highly constructive KE with a cultural support body.

This project constitutes an exceptional and timely opportunity to undertake a full-scale case study that scrutinises how contemporary policy is understood and implemented institutionally and organisationally by a publicly funded cultural agency.

Northumbrian Exchanges: Creative community engagement in rural Northumberland, Professor Eric Cross, University of Newcastle

This project responds to identified needs of various partners in rural Northumberland (the sparsest populated county in England), exploring new models of knowledge exchange relating to rural cultural economies and a desire to develop new ways of working relating to local communities. Bringing together multi-disciplinary research excellence in creative practice and theory, it focuses on the under-researched contribution of culture, particularly visual arts practice and music, to rural development and the mechanisms by which this is enacted, using the expertise of staff, students and partners to understand creative engagement within rural contexts and test practical ways of addressing needs. A variety of delivery mechanisms will be used such as a participatory action research group, networking events, classes and workshops, student placements and artist residencies. The aim is to build a critical mass of cultural activity, skills development and learning over the short term which can build on the current wave of interest amongst rural researchers and policy makers in this area, exploring new opportunities for rural development drawing on indigenous assets and traditions and promoting different funding streams for rural artists and communities to tap into.

Archives, Assets and Audiences: new modes to engage audiences with archival content and heritage sites, Professor Steve Benford, University of Nottingham

The arts and humanities have a strong tradition of building, maintaining and using archives as part of their research. The creative industries also exploit archives, but refer to them as databases of assets from which they generate experiences for public audiences. In turn, social media now enable these audiences to contribute back to archives by commenting, tagging, annotating and uploading their own media. This project addresses the potential for a productive collision of archives, assets and audiences to the benefit of all concerned by bringing together academics with the creative industries, and engaging both with diverse audiences. It will focus on industrial heritage as a target sector of the creative industries, specifically on the three themes of

  1. enlightenment and innovation
  2. cultures of work, welfare and play
  3. the rise, fall and re-invention of industry.

This builds on the rich heritage of the region and the expertise of the university partners and the interests and resources of a wide network of industry and cultural partners.

The objectives are to engage external partners, (theme launch days and a final symposium); grow capacity for knowledge exchange through mobility and training activities (knowledge exchange fellowships and student internships); deliver a portfolio of demonstrator projects, and ensure the future sustainability including ingenuity and reflection workshops.

For further information, please see the project website.

Home Improvements: Improving quality and value in the provision of volume house building through architectural knowledge exchange, Professor Flora Samuel, University of Sheffield

This project will bring together Volume House Builders, built environment academia and SME architecture practice with the primary aim of improving VHB provision and knowledge exchange across partners. It aims to share good practice and model novel forms of engagement across an industry in critical need of innovation.

The built environment is perhaps the most ubiquitous example of the creative economy in modern Britain, yet is generally overlooked and undervalued in this context. The UK construction industry contributes around 10% of UK GDP. The work of the professions that drive it is therefore of vital importance but the market is shrinking (RIBA Building Futures Report, p.39). In 2007, the government set a target of building an extra three million homes in England by 2020 and at the same time it set up the framework to be world class in the delivery of zero-carbon homes by 2016. Local authorities look to housing associations and private sector developers such as the VHBs to help them achieve these demands however the recent recession means that house builders are struggling more than ever to minimize their costs. This is likely to impact on design quality which, as CABE research has indicated was poor, even before the recession. The project focuses on improvements to the supply chain. There is a great deal of research potential in SMEs in the architectural creative industries. Yet these practices are under threat - their traditional market is being taken over by large interdisciplinary conglomerates. The project will provide the necessary support to allow these firms to deploy their creative energy in a wider industry context, to build on their research base and to develop new business models.

Design with Heritage, Professor May Cassar, University College London

The project will challenge heritage disciplines to engage with digital design industries, thereby realising their potential to support the development and growth of the Creative Economy. It will promote the value of cultural heritage assets as a resource by utilising research to develop products and services, and to improve productivity and facilitate connections, communication and exchange between A&H research and Creative Industries and increase public engagement.

Uniquely, the KE Project will address the digital design sector engaging with cultural heritage and will address barriers to effective business engagement such as fragmented company base, cultural issues in academia and resource issues in the business sector. Knowledge Exchange activities will be delivered across 2 themes: Design for Enhanced Exhibitions and Design for Augmented Artifacts. Outputs from KE activities will include exhibition, case study, teaching, and web-based materials (e.g. apps). A final showcase event will disseminate and communicate public information in the form of a Symposium organised at the V&A, and an Exhibition with enhanced web presence.

Creative Exchange Lab, Professor Karen Fleming, University of Ulster

Through a series of extended residencies located in disadvantaged communities across Northern Ireland, academic practitioners and postgraduates from Ulster and Queen's will work together with professional artists on projects in music, film, drama, creative writing, fine art,to explore ways in which contemporary digital and non-digital arts can have a transformative impact on liminal communities and districts. Areas of specific interest include art and public art in local communities, the role of art in a post-conflict society, and the role that art can play in regenerating a region such as Northern Ireland. A key outcome from this work will be the potential to share ideas, activities and experiences with other international contexts which are already looking to Northern Ireland as an example of a post-conflict region. Each one will involve workshops, creative collaborative projects designed in association with the practitioners and conceived around local issues, histories and contexts.

A longitudinal study will document and report on the creative practice landscape for lone artists and practitioners, creative clusters and networks, and the relationship of these activities to academic research. The study will be explored in a wider regional and national government context for the creative industries whereby funding and support is targeted at SMEs and 'close to market' activities and rarely identifying the needs of solo practitioners and micro businesses.

FIREup: Fashion and Innovation, Professor Sandy Black, University of the Arts

The UK has some of the world's most creative and innovative designer fashion companies, of which many are small and micro enterprises. These companies, supply chains and intermediaries constitute the UK designer fashion industry and consist of a poorly understood complex web of interactions. The British Fashion Council has identified a lack of a formal R&D culture and a lack of knowledge and contacts across and within the designer fashion industry, plus weak knowledge exchange and open innovation practices that are preventing the industry from reaching its full growth potential.

FIREup will focus on the creation of a prototype digital platform that will research new models of knowledge exchange and foster open innovation. The platform will create an accessible knowledge base for academic/B-2-B interactions, integrate research methodologies into the industry creating new collaborations between science and design disciplines, and support the industry to reduce its carbon footprint by sharing best practice. It will also be used to catalyse research collaborations linked to funding calls. Outcomes will be presented as case studies, showcasing the platform and also used for dissemination activities. The platform will be online, making the data readily accessible to registered participants. It will be easily updateable to take account of rapid changes within the industry and has potential for significant beneficial legacy to the designer fashion industry beyond the project duration.

For further information, please see the project website

Media, Community and the Creative Citizen, professor Ian Hargreaves, Cardiff University

Cultural intermediation is the ‘glue’ that helps to connect communities into creative economic activity. It plays a critical role in raising aspirations, upskilling and building confidence, allowing people to engage with and benefit from one of the most dynamic sectors of the contemporary UK economy. Individual artists, professional networks, events, festivals, commissioning bodies, creative businesses, arts and cultural organisations both large and small can all play intermediary roles. The aim of the research is to discover how the value of cultural intermediation can be captured and how this activity can be enhanced to create more effective connection between communities and the creative economy.

The objectives of the research are to:

  • create new ways of measuring value
  • analyse the historic development of cultural intermediation to inform current practice
  • examine how intermediation fits within the existing policy landscape and the governance of relations between the different actors
  • explore the effectiveness of intermediation activity from a community perspective
  • design new forms of intermediation through a series of practice-based interventions
  • reflect on the process of working across and between disciplines and sectors in order to enhance practice.

The project uses a mixed-method approach combining quantitative surveys, interviewing, ethnography and arts-based interventions.

For further information, please see the project website

Cultural intermediation, Dr Phil Jones, University of Birmingham

Cultural intermediation is a research councils funded project exploring the value of the creative citizen. The background to our interest in creative citizenship arises from the way that online communications have enabled individuals and small groups of individuals to engage more frequently, deftly and in greater depth with many types of organisation. Today, many companies design their products and services in close dialogue with users. This shift from a “user pays” to a “user makes” approach supports the possibility of a growth in smaller-scale, more flexible and voluntary community services.

Our research is organised under three complimentary strands: hyperlocal publishing, community-led design and creative networks.

Our aim in studying these cases is to generate data and insight about each case, but also to answer the more general questions set out above: what is the value of their work, to these citizens as individuals, to their communities and to wider civic goals?

Our research will produce:

  • improved data on the value, scale and potential of UK hyperlocal publishers and how they interact with traditional media; plus, working with our partner Talk About Local, sharp insights into the conditions likeliest to support the development of successful hyperlocals and the tools needed to achieve this;
  • an understanding of the value, potential and practicalities of community-led design, with a particular focus upon understanding the potential and limitations of digital media;
  • an evaluation of everyday, “at home” creative citizenship which provides an indication of its scale and potential, alone with insight into the most effective ways of providing gateways between the work of these lone or loosely network creative citizens and more formal organisations and structures.

For further information, please see the project website