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Image from The Rooms: A Playground for New Ideas (2015)  Photo by Max McClure

Bristol and Bath - leading the way in inclusive innovation and growth

Posted on Thu 6 Sept 2018

‘Bristol & Bath Creative R&D’ will receive a multi million pound investment from the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Creative Industries Clusters Programme, to support, connect and amplify the brilliant strengths of the region.

‘Bristol & Bath Creative R&D’ will receive a multi million pound investment from the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Creative Industries Clusters Programme, to support, connect and amplify the brilliant strengths of the region.

The B+B Creative R&D  programme combines the very best research from University of the West of England, University of Bristol, Bath Spa University and the University of Bath, with the reach and community of Watershed, and an abundance of companies working across design, broadcast, performance, technology, publishing and more.

The investment is one of nine from the Government’s Industrial Strategy, and is built on the premise that time, space and connections - across small business and large industry, across companies and academia, and across different types of creative business - will supercharge imagination, possibilities, products and routes to market.  

The Bristol and Bath Creative cluster has been identified by the Bazalgette Report as one of three regions outside London to have international growth potential, it has a 50% advantage in productivity over other creative clusters, contributing £780m back to the Treasury, mainly from small and micro businesses.

Through a mix of development labs, fellowship schemes and large project funding - this programme will build on existing thematic strengths in the region including XR (immersive experiences), live performance, voice activation and 5G. The development programme will strengthen the micro business creative sector, producing new jobs in new start-ups.

The model puts inclusion and new talent at its heart, in order to identify and support the thought leaders of tomorrow. Every programme will include new talent fellows - supported to think about innovation in a digital first way. In turn, New Talent Fellows will co-produce skills workshops for the next generation – creating a radically inclusive leadership model.

Partners in designing and delivering the programme include BBC, BDH, Crack Magazine, Creative Bath, Open Bionics, Yellow Dog, TLT Solicitors. Drummer films, Silverback films, Audible, Aardman, XMOS, RSC, Yogscast, Sensible Object, Strange Thoughts and MAYK.

Jon Dovey (Academic Director, UWE Bristol) says of the news:

“I’m delighted to be leading this collaboration, we have a genuine opportunity to create something remarkable across Bath and Bristol, a creative network that produces opportunities and jobs that reflect the diversity of our communities. The projects that we invest in with our partners will use the best research to build prototypes for the creative industries that put us on the world map as leaders in innovation for inclusive growth.”

Clare Reddington, Industry Co-Director and CEO of Watershed says:

“By forefronting inclusive innovation models, we are excited about the difference this funding will enable us to make. You only need to look to Silicon Valley to see how innovation clusters can produce social inequality and monocultural products. By giving prominence to the value and dividend of connectivity over output we will challenge and change the way our cluster’s success is shared”.

‘Bristol & Bath Creative R&D’ builds upon the success of the AHRC supported REACT, a four year programme of Industry and academic collaboration which has generated over £7.5m of economic activity.  The first six months will involve further consultation wih the sector around the themes and opportunities, creating a team and running some development labs, ready for the first fellowship calls early in the new year.