The South West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN) is a £6.5 million project to expand the use of creative technologies across the South West of England.

About the Network

The South West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN) is a £6.6 million project to link research to development by expanding the use of creative technologies and supporting business growth across the South West region of the UK.

Established in 2018, SWCTN has supported research and development in emerging technologies. Exploring the themes of Immersion, Automation and Data. Our focus on creative technology brings together arts, design, computer sciences, engineering and business development to deliver new products and services. The SWCTN’s programming includes Fellowship programmes, Prototype commissions, Microgrant opportunities, Partnership projects and ongoing mentorship, knowledge exchange and business development support. The SWCTN network is made up a rich mix of established and developing researchers, artists, technologists, businesses and practitioners from across the region, representing multiple disciplines and industries.

SWCTN is underpinned by the concept and practice of ‘cultural ecology’, by cultivating and connecting diverse networks of people, places, communities and resources across the region. SWCTN creates opportunities for exchange and collaboration to explore the challenges and possibilities of creative technologies, prototype ideas and supports new businesses committed to triple bottom line impacts. Drawing together expertise in creative producing, knowledge exchange, business development and creative economy research, SWCTN strengthens regional productivity, innovation and resilience.

Our Approach

SWCTN creates innovative responses to pressing challenges and strengthens regional resilience through a unique approach to research and development. Grounded in an understanding and practice of cultural ecology, we integrate knowledge exchange, creative production and business development, facilitate connections and create spaces for experienced and new talent researchers in the creative industries, digital technologies and a range of sectors to share skills, collaborate and co-create.

The Fellowship

Each year, the SWCTN team curated a cohort of industry, academic and new talent fellows representing diverse industries from across the region to collectively explore what is new, challenging and possible across the themes of Immersion, Automation and Data.

Each cohort engaged in a twelve month programme of deep thinking around their challenge area exploring what’s new, what’s good, where the gaps in the market are, what the challenges are, and what the potentials are. Each cohorts received facilitation, producer support, and have time for individual research. In addition to pursuing individual practice-led research projects, fellows participated in workshop activities, encouraged to challenge one another, share skills, collaborate, and co-create.

Prototype Commissions

The prototype commissioning brief is an open call inviting teams to apply for funding to develop new products and services with commercial potential addressing industrial, societal, cultural and environmental challenges. Taking a values-led approach, prototype teams are encouraged to evidence racial, ethnic and gender diversity in their teams, interdisciplinarity, cross-regional collaboration, ethical innovation, and sustainability.

£240k will be invested into each round of the prototype commissions throughout the programme.

Value and impact

As a partnership we are excited about innovative uses of technologies that engage users in hybrid experiences that are ethical, promote wellbeing, connect us to one another and create value. The network is rooted in the creative industries but aims to make connections into other sectors. We will build creative capacity, generate shared knowledge and maximise potential for specific commercial impact.

A key focus is to facilitate in-roads for creative technology and creative practices into other sectors. Together, we will produce commercial and social impacts across the challenge areas in a range of sectors including the creative industries, health and manufacturing.

Our opportunities are open to anyone, any discipline and background, and whose work has explored aspects of creative technology. We feel that creating the conditions for amazing work to thrive is to bring together people who are different from one another.

We welcome applications from BAME, LGBTQI, Deaf and disabled practitioners, because they are under represented in the sector. Please contact Charlie Tapp if you would like a conversation around our support.

Support

The grant is part of Research England’s Connecting Capabilities Fund, which supports university collaboration and encourages commercialisation for products made through partnership with industry.

This new network is led by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), in partnership with Watershed in Bristol, Kaleider in Exeter, Bath Spa University, the University of Plymouth and Falmouth University.