Creative Informatics: Data Driven Innovation for the Creative Industries

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Edinburgh College of Art


Creative Informatics is an R&D partnership which will grow Edinburgh's creative industries cluster, by helping it to tap the huge potential of using data to shape, develop and deliver new products and services for public and business customers. Over the past ten years, new data-driven products and services have transformed the way people engage with cultural experiences, conduct transactions, and relate to each other. Our ambition is to enable the sector to succeed in an increasingly competitive market, by addressing key innovation challenges and by developing the R&D capacity and data literacy of companies to ensure they can capitalise on new technology to develop new products and services.

The R&D Partnership is hosted by the University of Edinburgh, with Edinburgh Napier University and has two key delivery partners: Creative Edinburgh, a well-connected network of over 3800 members, and CodeBase, the largest technology incubator in the UK and one of the fastest growing in Europe. Creative Informatics will benefit from outstanding infrastructure to support delivery including that provided by the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal which will focus on Data Driven Innovation.

We will bring together cultural partners, creative businesses and entrepreneurs with academic expertise in the fields of design, informatics, business, law and cultural heritage, to address four Innovation Challenges:

1. Developing access to and engagement with new audiences and markets
2. Developing new modalities of experience
3. Unlocking value in archives and data sets
4. Revealing new business models for the creative industries

These challenges could see Edinburgh's Festivals extending the festival experiences offered both in Edinburgh and overseas. Outputs from projects could lead to new commercial products for home entertainment, new apps, games, new ways to buy products and services by experiencing them first, new ways for advertising agencies to develop campaigns and experiences for clients, and online experiences for remote participation. Museums and Galleries will be able to mine text and images in their archives to create opportunities for new product lines for SMEs and the tools developed along the way can also be licensed and sold. Partnerships across our cluster will include creative teams who understand new transaction technologies (crowd-financing, micro-payments, cryptocurrencies). This will ensure creative entrepreneurs can develop radical new products and services, whilst understanding the opportunities and threats and ensuring that social interests are safeguarded. The development of data-driven solutions for adapting and distributing content will open up new international market opportunities for a range of creative industries sub-sectors including design, advertising, gaming, publishing, film and TV production companies, music/record companies, and fashion.

We will support growth of the cluster through six R&D initiatives which have been co-designed with partners to meet their needs. Challenge Projects, Horizon Projects and Creative Informatics Labs (CI Labs) will respond directly to the four innovation challenges. Creative Bridge, a dedicated data-driven business innovation programme; Resident Entrepreneurs; and Connected Innovators will respond to the challenge of developing and retaining talent, entrepreneurs and leaders to fuel the growth of the creative industries cluster in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh's creative industries cluster has a vibrant creative and technology culture in a city internationally renowned for both culture and entrepreneurship. Creative Informatics provides the missing 'cog' to allow creative entrepreneurs to connect with world-leading expertise in data science and Edinburgh's tech and start-up culture and fulfil its potential to make the UK an international centre for creative data-driven innovation.

Planned Impact

The Creative Informatics R&D Partnership will grow Edinburgh's creative industries cluster by addressing four data-driven innovation challenges: developing access to and engagement with new audiences and markets; developing new modalities of experience; unlocking value in archives and data sets; and revealing new business models for the creative industries.

The partners have co-designed six R&D programmes to address these challenges which will increase the number of existing businesses and creative entrepreneurs who can confidently innovate with data. Three programmes - Challenge Projects, Horizon Projects and Creative Informatics Labs - will respond directly to the four innovation challenges. Existing creative businesses will benefit from taking part in the programmes and will find new collaborators and build their long term capacity for R&D.

The programmes will lead to supported projects that aim to have a Minimum Viable Product at the end and we expect half of the MVPs to be developed through further investment and funding. In total we expect to have 100 new products, services and experiences developed by the end of the award involving software solutions, algorithms and design rights appropriately protected to enable commercialisation. The programmes will also provide new opportunities for collaboration and mutual learning. The CI Labs in particular will lead to new research tools, methodologies and resources that will be disseminated for use by academics and industry for further projects.

Three further programmes will develop creative entrepreneurs who can confidently express the value of creativity, relate easily to technologists and investors, and lead data-driven innovation for the creative industries. Developing and retaining such talent is crucial for growing the creative industries cluster in Edinburgh.

Creative Bridge, a dedicated business innovation programme, will help entrepreneurs transition from idea to product by developing understanding of data-driven innovation and creative business models. The Resident Entrepreneur programme will provide creative entrepreneurs with the funding, space and networks to develop an idea to become ready to market. Connected Innovators will support upcoming leaders to take time out for an R&D project and develop skills to further their leadership within the cluster.

With this focus on entrepreneurship, we envisage creating successful, new businesses. We have set a total target of 68, with 35 coming from Creative Bridge. Over the whole programme, we estimate a total of 167 new or safeguarded jobs.

Other benefits of the Creative Informatics R&D Partnership include increased mobility of people between academia and industry and among our industry partners, to foster collaboration, learning and cross-fertilisation of ideas. Outreach activities will build the Creative Informatics community and share learning and outcomes from the R&D Partnership locally, nationally and internationally to open new market opportunities for the cluster. Businesses in other sectors will benefit from improved access to creatives who understand data-driven innovation and will in turn provide a supply chain for creative businesses. Cultural organisations will benefit from the development of innovative solutions that unlock value in their archives, collections and data sets leading to new business opportunities for them and partner SMEs.

The public will benefit from events which showcase new technologies and early stage products and services aimed at the consumer market and from enhanced cultural and heritage experiences.

We anticipate outcomes will be realised during the award, with longer term impact following in subsequent years, although we also expect to realise some impact during the award.

Creative Informatics will foster an environment which will help establish Edinburgh as the European capital for creative data-driven industries.


10 25 50