News

Announcing Artful Innovation - our new business development programme

Posted on Tue 14 Feb 2017
Image from a Playable City Brazil workshop

Image by Max McClure

Storytelling chocolate, new musical instruments, robotic art, social design and futures consulting, meet the companies participating in Artful Innovation™, Watershed’s brand new business development programme.

Beginning this weekend, Artful Innovation is a five-day intensive course that supports small creative technology companies to examine their practice and strengthen their business cases. Led by Programme Director Stephen Gatfield, the course invites participants to enter into a task based journey of learning, sharing, building and evaluating. It will give participants the tools to take their ideas from prototype to marketplace reality, without sacrificing their values. 

The course will include case studies and insights from inspirational speakers such as Tracey Follows of The Future Laboratory, Samantha Payne of Open Bionics, Alex Fleetwood and Alex Bertie of Sensible Object, Rohan Gunatillake creator of Buddhify, Michael Johnson from Glasgow School of Art, James Touzel of TLT LLP, Paul Archer of Daredevil Project and Greg Taylor of Elmwood.

Let’s take a closer look at the participants and why they’ve decided to take part…

Understory is a storytelling chocolate company with a practise divided into chocolate and sweet products, events, consultancy and filmmaking. They have worked incredibly hard over the past couple of years to develop their products and processes, and are now peaking the interest of investors. They applied to participate in Artful Innovation to help tighten up their business case, gain a better understanding of the financing landscape and learn from their peers.

Joining us from Manchester, Noise Orchestra are a fantastic duo of sound artists, who are developing a series of electronic Noise Machines that translate light into sound. This is their first foray into developing market ready, tested products and running a business. They’re particularly excited about interrogating ideas around potential markets and learning more about the process of launching products from people who have been through it.

Rusty Squid are an experimental robotic engineering and design studio that work within the contemporary arts. From large scale interventions to intimate encounters, their work connects audiences with the physical and emotional space between body and machine. Audience testing has proven their ideas.

Travelling from Glasgow are Andthen, a futures research and design strategy consultancy who work directly with product and service providers. They are amazing creative thinkers and use this skill to invent visions of possible futures, as a tool to inform confident strategic decision making, product development, and corporate culture. They are looking forward to refining their current product and service offering and creating a robust business model which can drive growth.

Finally Studio Meineck is a social design studio. They specialise in designing with people, rather than for people. Collaborating with charities, organisations and academics, they develop well considered products to help make peoples lives better. They are at an incredibly exciting point in their development, having just manufactured a small batch of their first product Music Memory Box, a beautiful, evocative reminiscence tool for those living with dementia. Artful Innovation comes at a perfect time, as they look to scale the team, figure out the investment landscape and examine the dilemma of balancing profit with creativity, quality and meaning.

We are rally excited to have all five teams on the course and look forward to supporting them throughout their journey.

Artful Innovation will take place from Saturday 18 to Wednesday 22 Feb 2017.  Sessions will be delivered across a range of venues in and around Bristol including Watershed, Triodos Bank, Ashton Court Mansion and The Forge. Each venue has been carefully chosen to reflect session themes. We will share key learning and insights online, throughout the duration of course.

Nominations were supported by MadLab Manchester, Glasgow School of Art, Makerversity London, Wired Sussex, Near Now Nottingham and Creative Cardiff.

Artful Innovation is supported by the Regional Arts Incubation Network: Coworking Bath (The Guild), Knowle West Media Centre, Spike Island, UWE Bristol and Watershed. It is funded by Arts Council England and the European Regional Development Fund.