The Creative Industries Clusters Programme

From screen industries and digital storytelling to fashion and videogames, some of the UK’s best performing and world renowned creative businesses are receiving a major boost thanks to the £80 million Creative Industries Clusters Programme, which is being funded by the Industrial Strategy and delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council on behalf of UKRI.

The Creative Industries Clusters Programme comprises nine (see map below) Research and Development (R&D) partnerships, which will be led by universities, based around clusters in the four nations of the UK, and an independent Policy and Evidence Centre led by Nesta with partners.

The programme brings together world-class research talent from across the UK in a first-of-its kind R&D investment. They will accelerate growth in a range of creative sectors and aim to create jobs and drive the creation of companies, products and experiences that can be marketed around the world, significantly contributing to UK economic growth both regionally and nationally.


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UK map of the nine Creative Industries Clusters

Select a cluster to find out more.
(For more accessible information see this news page.)

See also the announcement 'Major new research investment set to provide boost for UK's Creative Industries' news item.

Read more below.

 

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Future Screens Northern Ireland (NI)

The Ulster University leads this cluster in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast.

Commercial partners include: Northern Ireland Screen, the BBC, RTE, Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Catalyst Inc., Causeway Enterprise Agency, Belfast City Council and Digital Catapult.

Technical sound studio

Cluster speciality: To address the challenges and build on existing strengths, focussing on narrative and storytelling in digital content, applications of VR/AR in health, tourism and engineering, development of a games nexus, expanding capacity for large scale film and TV production and enhancing the high level skills pipeline in 2D and 3D animation.

Future Screens NI will deliver expert technical skills, opportunity and accelerated growth across these technologies and industries alongside new product development and services in this flourishing sector.

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InGAME: Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise

The Abertay University leads this cluster in Dundee in partnership with the University of Dundee and the University of St Andrews.

Games industry partners include: 4J Studios, All4Games, the BBC, Beano Studios, Biome Collective, DeltaDNA, Disney Research, Microsoft, Outplay Entertainment and Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Business and cluster support from Creative Dundee, Creative Scotland, Elevator UK, Interface, Dundee City Council, Scottish Enterprise, TIGA, UK Games Fund and UK Interactive Entertainment.

Cluster speciality: The £9 million project will establish a dedicated research and development centre for the Dundee video games cluster, offering product, service and experience innovation to UK games companies.

Abertay Computer Arts

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Creative Informatics partnership

The University of Edinburgh leads this cluster in partnership with the Edinburgh Napier University, Creative Edinburgh, and CodeBase the largest technology incubator in the UK.

Commercial partners include: Festivals Edinburgh, The List, the BBC, National Museums Scotland, The Fruitmarket Gallery and Royal Bank of Scotland, bringing together more than 25 organisations.

Cluster speciality: Seeking to put businesses and creative entrepreneurs in the driving seat of data-driven innovation in Edinburgh’s lively design and advertising sector, whilst encouraging 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, seeking to create more than 60 new businesses.

 

Creative Informatics partnership

The Harmonium Project

new video game

Created by 59 Productions - set to John Adams’s mesmerising choral music - this free outdoor projection mapping event launched the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival and the 50th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus. Image copyright: Eoin Carey.
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Creative Media Labs: Innovations in screen storytelling in the age of interactivity and immersion

The University of York leads this cluster with researchers from other connected Yorkshire universities to, to co-create leading programmes of activity in digital storytelling.

York cluster

Commercial partners: Screen Yorkshire, the British Film Industry, New Moon Studios, British Telecom, Sony, Duck Soup, Warp Films, Game Republic and the BBC.

Cluster speciality: Establishing the screen industries of Yorkshire and the Humber as a centre of excellence in immersive and interactive storytelling, developing partnerships with film, TV and games companies from across our region, as well as nationally and internationally.

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Future Fashion Factory

The University of Leeds leads this cluster in partnership with the Royal College of Art.

Commercial partners: Yorkshire Textiles, Burberry, Wools of New Zealand, Abraham Moon & Sons, the Textile Centre of Excellence, Camira, the UK Fashion and Textile Association and the British Fashion Council.

Cluster speciality: Future Fashion Factory will explore and develop new digital and advanced textile technologies to boost the design of high value creative products, helping designers and manufacturers work more collaboratively in a circular economy to increase productivity, shrink lead times, lower costs and reduce waste.

It also aims to reinvigorate the hugely valuable fashion industry’s on-shore capacity and agility in design and manufacture.

Leeds Fashion cluster pic

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Clwstwr Creadigol

The Cardiff Creative Clusters team

The Clwstwr Creadigol team

Cardiff University leads this cluster that brings together broadcasters with a rich array of over 60 companies: independent film and TV producers, writers, games designers, Wales’s national companies and creative organisations, coworking spaces, tech start-ups, data scientists and storytellers.

Commercial partners include: BBC Cymru, S4C, Boom Cymru, ITV Cymru Wales and Sony UK Technology Centre.

Cluster speciality: Clwstwr Creadigol builds on the increasing success of the screen industries in Wales – with a national creative hub in the Cardiff city region.

To sustain this success, the cluster’s screen production needs to be much more than ‘show and go’. With investment planned in innovative R&D – through a Screen Innovation System (SIS) and a News Innovation Lab (NI) - thus embedding high value screen production in South Wales. Based on six months of conversation with partners, these R&D initiatives will be designed to respond to changing technologies (e.g. emergence of 5G mobile infrastructure), shifting patterns of consumption and the benefits of creative fusion and collaboration.

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Bristol and Bath Cluster (B+B)XR+D

The University of the West of England leads this cluster with the University of Bristol, Bath University and Bath Spa University.

Commercial partners include: The Watershed, Aardman Animations, Audible, the BBC, and the RSC.

Cluster speciality: The cluster works closely with creative and technology businesses to produce innovation and intensify productivity in an area where there is a substantial creative and freelance workforce. The collaboration looks to find new ways to engage the audiences of the future in new market places and understanding user engagement in new platforms.

It is interested in the intersections between Extended Reality (XR) platforms and new forms of connectivity such as 5G. This could include ways of appealing to audiences through immersive documentaries or developing new forms of situated storytelling.The cluster is also looking at ways of expanding its international reach to establish the region as a world leader in inclusive innovation for the Creative Industries.

The Cardiff Creative Clusters team

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The Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology Collaborative R&D Partnership (BoFTT)

London College of Fashion at the University of the Arts London (Lead: Prof Graeme Evans, UAL and Co-Director: Prof Jane Harris, UAL) leads this cluster with Loughborough University (Co-Director Prof Tracy Bhamra), University of Cambridge, University of Leeds and Queen Mary University London.

Commercial partners include: ASOS, Clarks, British Fashion Council, London Legacy Development Corporation, Centre for Fashion Enterprise and the V&A.

Cluster speciality: To enable a wide range of emergent FTT businesses - which represent 80% of the UK’s high-value Fashion, Textiles and Technology (FTT) sector - to be agents for research and development innovation, business growth and to respond to significant challenges in consumer behaviour, e-commerce, the environment, novel manufacturing and production processes.

BoFTT is an industry-led research and development project which has been awarded funding of £5.5 million over five years (2018-2023), with industry contributing an additional £4 million.

 

The Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology Collaborative R&D Partnership (BoFTT)

 

Tsitsi Fred BA (Hons) - Copyright: Alys Tomlinson/UAL

Tsitsi Fred BA (Hons) in Fashion Textiles at the London College of Fashion, UAL. Copyright: Alys Tomlinson/UAL
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StoryFutures: Gateway Cluster Partnership for Audiovisual Digital Creativity

Professor James Bennett

Professor James Bennett leads the team

The Royal Holloway leads this cluster bringing together universities and world-leading creative screen and technology companies.

Commercial partners from TV, gaming, VFX and immersive include: Pinewood Studios, Immerse UK, Resource Productions, BFI, Connect TVT, Imaginarium Studios, The National Gallery, BBC Studios, Sony Interactive and nDreams.

Cluster speciality: A research and development collaboration into the future of story form, business models, data process and audience experience, providing an innovative architecture for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in our region to create the compelling content, products and experiences to drive growth in next generation technologies.

A novel ‘StoryLab’ will develop use-case prototypes and pilots that respond to industry wide barriers to growth in immersive and beyond, producing content that tests how to translate, adapt and converge traditional storytelling conventions to produce a new grammar for next generation technologies. This work will be tested with audiences, utilising cutting edge research in cognitive psychology, neuroscience and media research to fuel commercial growth and create enthralling experiences for the public.

 

 


Independent Policy and Evidence Centre

Funded in response to the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, the Creative Industries Clusters Programme comprises nine (see map above) Research and Development (R&D) partnerships based around clusters and an independent Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre led by Nesta with partners. The programme brings together world-class research talent from across the UK in a first-of-its kind R&D investment. The funded projects will accelerate growth in a range of creative sectors including the broadcast and screen industries, fashion textiles and technology, fashion design innovation, data and design, animation and videogames, digital storytelling and creative audiovisual. The aim of the Clusters Programme is to create jobs and drive the creation of companies, products and experiences that can be marketed around the world, significantly contributing to UK economic growth both regionally and nationally.

Immersive storytelling development at the StoryFutures Academy

Led by National Film and Television School. A new £10 million centre, The StoryFutures Academy, will support the development of cutting-edge creative training and research programmes in immersive storytelling to build the UK creative talent pool. It will be part-funded through the Creative Industries Clusters Programme. The National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway University will run the centre, which will develop skills by offering experimental labs, workshops, placements and courses and support and co-fund 60 immersive productions with a focus on storytelling.