The South West is on track to become an international trailblazer in screen-based media thanks to £46 million funding, which will launch a creative media powerhouse called MyWorld and supercharge economic growth, generating more than 700 jobs.
The visionary initiative, led by the University of Bristol, will develop major new research and development (R&D) facilities and partnerships connecting regional and national partners with global tech giants, including Netflix, Google, and Microsoft. Together they will pioneer new digital formats and technologies, creating innovative experiences across fiction, documentary, games, and live performance.
The MyWorld creative hub has been awarded £30m from the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) with a further £16m coming from an alliance of more than 30 industry and academic partners joining forces in the five-year scheme due to start by the end of the year.
Professor David Bull, MyWorld Lead and Director of Bristol Vision Institute, said: “The South West is already a creative capital in the UK and MyWorld aims to position the region amongst the best in the world, driving inward investment, increasing productivity and delivering important employment and training opportunities.
“This is the beginning of an exciting journey, which will align research and development endeavours across technology and the creative arts, to help businesses realise their innovation potential, raise their international profile, and maximise the advantages of new technologies.”
The BBC, Aardman Animations, BT, Digital Catapult, and Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Trust, along with a host of other creative companies and sector organisations, are all part of the unique cross-sector consortium. The hub is projected to generate more than 700 new jobs and boost the economy by £223m. It will forge dynamic collaborations between world-leading academic institutions and creative industries to progress technological innovation, creative excellence, inclusive cultures, and knowledge sharing.
In collaboration with the University of Bath, University of the West of England, and Bath Spa University, the project will provide advanced training programmes and talent development feeding into an extensive knowledge exchange network. Accessible facilities are also planned, with Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, The Bottle Yard Studios, and Bath Spa University as key focal points.
Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, said: “This funding award is tremendous news for the University, the city of Bristol, and the entire South West region, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty that could hit the creative sector hard.
“In recent weeks, screen-based technologies have transformed the way we interact with each other professionally and personally, providing a lifeline in so many different ways. Uniting Bristol’s world-leading interdisciplinary research with the very best creative talent, locally and further afield, will strengthen and expand these relationships, allowing us to collectively cross new frontiers.”
The initiative is among seven projects nationally selected to share £186m government funding as part of the UKRI’s SIPF. The successful projects have all been under development with UKRI pilot funding since last year.
David Sweeney, Research England’s Executive Chair, who leads the Strength in Places Fund, said: “UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund is distinctive in specifically targeting investment to foster the local research and innovation ecosystems that can support sustained growth.
“All of these projects have the potential to deliver research and innovation that will transform activity within their target industries, in a way that is deeply rooted in local strengths and well linked to wider local economic plans.”