UWE shares £16 million as leader of new SW UK creative industries hub

Issue date: 16 August 2011

The University of the West of England (UWE) has been chosen to lead one of four prestigious Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

UWE is teaming up with the Universities of Bristol, Exeter, Bath and Cardiff, as well as Bristol's Watershed and a wide range of creative industry partners, to form the new Research and Enterprise in Arts and Creative Technologies Hub (REACT) for Bristol, the South West of England and South Wales.

The four new Hubs, announced on Tuesday 16 August, will represent an investment by the AHRC of some £16m over four years. The Hubs will have the task of building new partnerships and entrepreneurial capacity in the creative economy and increasing the number of arts and humanities researchers actively engaged in research-based knowledge exchange.

The four lead institutions are UWE, the University of Lancaster, the University of Dundee and Queen Mary, University of London. Each will lead consortia that will include other universities, creative businesses - including small and medium enterprises - arts and culture organisations, and other agencies.

Professor Paul Gough, UWE Deputy Vice-Chancellor said, “This is an outstanding result for the Universities and for all our partners across the south-west of the UK; the Hub will generate many brilliant and exciting projects that will have a direct impact on the creative economy, on businesses and education. UWE is delighted to be leading this project and working in collaboration with so many outstanding partners.”

The Hub will be directed by Professor Jon Dovey and based in Watershed's Pervasive Media Studio, growing its existing partnership with UWE's Digital Cultures Research Centre. This unique city-centre studio, which was established in 2008, brings together artists, technologists and academics to explore the future of creative technologies.

Clare Reddington of Watershed, who will act as Executive Producer for REACT said, “We are delighted to be a partner in the Creative Economy Hub which will expand our network of partners and strengthen our mission to share, develop and showcase exemplary ideas and talent. The Hub's activities will centre around an extended Sandbox programme, first developed by Watershed's subsidiary iShed in 2008. We will produce 70 collaborative projects spanning heritage, broadcasting, digital media, publishing and beyond, further strengthening Watershed's position as a leader in the field of creative and digital innovation.”

Co-directors Professor Robert Bickers (University of Bristol) and Nick Kaye (University of Exeter) will be joined by Knowledge Exchange champions Dr Danae Stanton Fraser at the University of Bath and Professor Ian Hargreaves at the University of Cardiff.

Professor Bickers said, “This is excellent news. Working with all the partners in the development of this bid has already proved tremendously fruitful and enjoyable. We have an impressive range of activity to draw on as we take this forward now, and we're clearly going to be able to deliver substantial benefits as we do so.”

The UK's creative economy – which includes the creative industries as well as museums, galleries, libraries, orchestras and theatres – is, relative to GDP, probably the largest creative sector in the world. As the major focus of AHRC's new knowledge exchange and impact strategy for 2011-2015, the Hubs will encourage significant interactions between research and the Creative Economy which will generate wider social, economic and cultural benefits.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said, “Interaction between businesses and universities is crucial for driving growth. It enables businesses and organisations to benefit from our world-class research base, gaining new knowledge and ideas. This major investment will not only enrich the creative industries but is also a vote of confidence in the excellent arts and humanities research at our higher education institutions."

Chief Executive Officer of the AHRC, and chair of the assessment panel which made the awards, Professor Rick Rylance said, “The UK is outstanding at many things and leads the world in some. Of these the quality and innovation of our research and the dynamism of our creative economy are two that stand out. These AHRC Creative Economy Hubs offer the opportunity to unite these sectors to the benefit of both sides and the country as a whole. The successful consortia emerged from an exceptionally strong field. We congratulate them, look forward to working closely with them over the next four years, and to welcoming the results of their work.”


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