Call for Immersion fellows

We are offering 24 paid fellowships to people from industry and academia to think deeply about the potential, challenges and opportunities in the realm of immersion.

Fellowships run from September 2018 through to July 2019, but time commitment for fellows will be significantly front-loaded to the period September to December 2018.

Each fellow will receive a £15k bursary to support time and research costs.

The South West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN) is a £6.5 million project to expand the use of creative technologies across the region. The network will offer three one-year funded programmes around the themes of Immersion, Automation and Data.

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

Photo by Max Mclure of REACT The Rooms festival


Over the next three years the partnership will recruit three cohorts of fellows. Each cohort will run for twelve months and focus on one of three challenge areas: Immersion, Automation and Data. Fellows will be drawn from academia, industry and new talent.

The cohort will engage in an initial period of three months deep thinking around the 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. The cohort will receive facilitation, producer support, and have time for individual research. Fellows will be expected to share their learning outwardly at the end of this period.

Following this deep research phase the partnership will invest £240k in making prototypes in response to the research findings. Fellows are encouraged to bid for this prototype investment. All fellows will be expected to continue through to the end of the theme as part of the cohort.

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.

What do we mean by Immersion?

From spatialised sound to augmented reality overlays, emerging technologies give developers, creatives and performers new ways to blend physical and virtual worlds. However, to fulfil their potential in terms of use, design and implementation, we need to explore immersive experiences from multiple perspectives and in different domains.

While significant investment is being made in a range of platforms to deliver immersive experiences, we want to enable bold, interdisciplinary thinking around future content, tools, services and applications. If the potential of immersion is to be fully realised in new markets and emergent forms of cultural experience, bridges between arts and digital technology, marketplace and research, need to be built.

We are excited by work that explores what it means to be immersed. Some examples of this include:

Alice; The Virtual Reality Play

Door Into the Dark by Anagram

The Infirmary by Triage

Sigur Rós and Magic Leap

Beat Saber from Hyperbolic Magnetism

Tichener’s Cage by Nadav Assor

Fragments, by RFID

Photo by Jon Aitken of From the Light of the Fire, Our Dancing Shadows by Kaleider

Our interests in immersive work are wide-ranging, inclusive of VR, AR, Mixed Reality, fulldome, projection mapping, ambient technologies, sound, performance and other creative and exploratory approaches. We are also interested in immersive experiences outside of the creative industries, for example in health, training, distributed manufacture, heritage and education.

The kinds of questions we believe require exploration are:

  • What new understandings of immersion do we need?
  • What blueprints do we need to ensure that immersive applications create convincing and accessible experiences?
  • What technical challenges need solutions to support such experiences?
  • What modes of storytelling are required?
  • How can social, multi-user immersive experiences be created?
  • How do we ensure that the design and implementation of immersive experiences across multiple industrial sectors retain a core focus on human experience?
  • What new tools, products and services can be created?

Photo by Max Mclure of Memory of Theatre by Paul Clarke, University of Bristol with Bristol Old Vic Theatre

What is a fellow?

We are looking for 24 fellows; eight industry, eight academic and eight new talent. Academic fellows must be based at one of the University partners on the project and all fellows must have a meaningful connection to the south west.

We are looking for people who combine an original R&D perspective on the theme with an open and exploratory approach. Fellows will work individually and within a cohort to engage in deep thinking, discussion and critique; drawing out potential opportunity and challenging current assumptions. They will be supported to spend time on an individual line of enquiry, developing new knowledge that can be shared with the cohort and more broadly.

Fellows might explore the following questions:

  • Who are the existing and future audiences/customers/funders?
  • What new affordances can be explored?
  • What are the experimental methods of production?
  • What might excellence look like?
  • What languages and grammars are developing around the form?
  • Who is innovating?
  • What are the ethical implications?
  • What sectors does it engage?
  • What are the market gaps?
  • What academic research from other areas may be applicable here?
  • How could creative industry subsectors relate to this area?
  • What are the industry challenges that this R&D could help overcome?

What do the academic and industry fellows get?

  • A bursary of £15k to support your time and any research costs
  • The time and space to focus intensively on exploring an area of interest
  • A community of peers working in a similar area to share progress, questions and contacts
  • An attachment to one of the SWCTN partners and time with the Producing Team to discuss your ideas and identify possible future developments
  • The opportunity to be part of a team that builds a prototype, or to be involved with that process as an advisor while making connections with the people developing new work at the forefront of immersive technology

What do we expect?

  • Three months of deep thinking on the challenge theme, leading to a shareable output. Fellows might produce ideas, storyboards, treatments, articles, presentations or blog posts, designs, provocations, thought pieces, research papers, or audience research that helps us commission prototypes that users actually want
  • Full participation in monthly cohort events and a final Ideas Lab to co-produce a call for our Immersion prototypes
  • Participation in our programme of events for learning together, sharing and showcasing (other than that fellows will manage their own time to deliver the agreed outputs)
  • Active engagement with the theme during the prototyping phase (see below)

Where does the deep thinking lead?

At the end of the research phase comes a prototype phase, where we will invest £240k total in eight prototypes around the theme of Immersion.

After a light touch application process, it is likely that some fellows will be engaged in building a prototype, while others will become advisors to the process. New partners – from outside the fellowship cohort – may also be invited to pitch for funding for a three-month prototype build.

Prototypes will be original, tested with users and audiences, and have the potential for scalability and longevity.

Teams will have access to business development advice and support following the prototype phase with a view to gaining further investment in order to get the prototype to its potential users or audiences.

New talent fellows

We are also looking to recruit eight new talent fellows to work alongside the industry and academic fellows. The new talent cohort will become the future leaders of creative technology development in the south west. They may be graduates or may have been working, designing, running a business, or learning through a different route. New talent fellows will work alongside the other fellows in the cohort, contributing ideas, research and their understanding of the development of future markets. The call for new talent fellows will be announced separately by the end of June, if you are interested in hearing more sign up here.

How to apply?

If you are interested please get in touch with one of our Production team or your University leads to discuss and develop your idea.

Watershed: Jo Lansdowne

Kaleider: Katie Keeler

UWE Bristol: Teresa Dillon

Bath Spa University: Kate Pullinger

Falmouth University: Tanya Krzywinska

University of Plymouth: Mike Phillips

The deadline for applications is 5pm on 31 July 2018. Interviews will be held in August and we will announce outcomes in early September.

Please apply here:

How will applications be assessed?

Applications will be assessed by a panel of industry and academic representatives from our partners. We will be looking for applications that demonstrate:

  • Clear research question(s) that engage with developments in Immersion; its technologies, content, audience or processes
  • Potential for impact on the sector and/or audiences
  • Full commitment to the process (and the ability to fully participate)
  • Openness to learning and to change (and the readiness to do so)
  • Collaborative experience or approach

We will also select applications with an attention to the diversity of the cohort in terms of idea, perspective, background and geography.