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Creative Informatics – 2020 Round Up!

In what has been a very challenging year for the creative industries across the UK and beyond, we are thankful to have worked with and supported a fantastic range of creative individuals and organisations through our funding and development programmes and events.

In 2020 we’ve funded a host of innovative new projects across Edinburgh and South East Scotland, and made some exciting new creative connections and partnerships as our Creative Informatics community continues to grow. Here’s a roundup of what we’ve been up to this year.

Resident Entrepreneurs
In 2020 we supported eighteen new Resident Entrepreneur projects, providing funding of up to £12,000 and mentoring to individuals and small teams that are developing new products or services using data. Our current Resident Entrepreneurs include print magazine and creative studio Boom Saloon, Edinburgh Tool Library, data-driven design company Ploterre, theatre focussed software developers Centrline, and urban adventure podcast producers Hidden Trax.

Resident Entrepreneur’s Hidden Trax

Our Resident Entrepreneurs have been making waves, grabbing attention and investment for their work. In June, Siwei Kang secured £146,000 of pre-seed funding from Techstart Ventures for further development of her screenshot note-taking app Picojar. In October Touchlab were winners at the Scottish Edge Awards, winning the £100,000 Higgs EDGE prize for their work developing electronic skin that will give robots a human-like sense of touch, for use in space and hazardous environments. And in November, Stageport were awarded Innovate UK Sustainable Innovation Funding for Tramway Revisited, a ground-breaking new digital visualisation project Glasgow’s internationally-renowned arts venue Tramway.

Find out more about all our Round 2 and Round 3 Resident Entrepreneurs, and watch out for the announcement of our next round of RE projects in the New Year.

Challenge Projects
In 2020 we matched new creative and cultural Challenge Holders with Challenge Respondents who can help them find solutions to organisational challenges that require innovative, data-driven solutions.

Edinburgh International Festival are working with Resident Entrepreneurs Stageport to create virtual working spaces for venues in the city of Edinburgh, Finding a solution to this challenge will enable the Festival to stay at the forefront of technical innovation, providing the planning resources that world-class productions expect.

Neneh Cherry @ EIF credit Gaelle Beri

The team at contemporary sculpture park Jupiter Artland are working with service design and user experience consultancy InChat, to develop an interactive, data-driven tool to deepen audience engagement with the park’s art collection, and travel guide app developer’s SenseCity are responding to Historic Environment Scotland’s Challenge Project, developing a product that will allow visitors to engage with monuments in new ways, using a range of content including historical, reconstructed and inaccessible views.

We’ll be announcing who our Round 3 Challenge Holders have been paired with and sharing the outcomes of our Round 1 Challenge Projects early next year!

Applications for Round 4 Challenge Holders close on Monday, find out more and apply now!

Creative Bridge
It’s been another whirlwind year for Creative Bridge at CodeBase. We started the year by running Cohort #3 in person and, as lockdown came in, we quickly pivoted to running the course online for Cohorts #4 and #5.

Creative Bridge credit Maxime Ragni

We’ve continued to work with an amazing crop of local speakers and session leaders in Edinburgh and have also welcomed some amazing guest speakers in 2020, including Gumroad founder Sahil Lavignia, M.M.LaFleur co-founder Narie Foster, DropBox’s Abhishek Lahoti and Good-Loop founder Amy Williams.

Of course, Creative Bridge would be nothing without our participants! And some of them had huge wins this year too, including Yaldi Games’ Converge Award win and The Flock winning Creative Edinburgh’s Startup Award.

The Creative Bridge team at CodeBase also picked up the City Award at the Creative Edinburgh Awards, in recognition of the fantastic support the programme is providing to Edinburgh’s creative community.

Creative Bridge will be back next year with Cohort #6, which will run from 10th February to 14th April, every Wednesday afternoon. Applications are open now and close on 6th January. Find out more and apply now!

Connected Innovators
In September we announced our first round of Connected Innovators, delivered in partnership with Creative Edinburgh.

Creative Edinburgh’s Connected Innovators

Connected Innovators receive up to £10,000 of funding and support to develop a specific area of their creative practice or business using data or data-driven technology.

Our Round 1 Connected Innovators include Alex Durussel-Baker, who is developing her Diabetes by Design project, exploring new channels of support for those recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and Caro Overy, who is developing a new tool to support the creative community’s response to the climate emergency.

Applications for our second round of Connected Innovators closed last week and will be announced in early 2021!

 

Events
Our 2020 CI Labs programme kicked off with CI Lab #9: Speculative Design and Future Thinking, which took place at Whitespace in January, followed by CI Lab #10: Data for Green Making at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in February, and CI Lab #11: Data-driven Publishing, delivered with the Fruitmarket Gallery as part of their Artist’s Bookmarket in March.

Tobias Revell
CI Lab 9: Speculative Design and Future Thinking

Our first three labs were paired with CI Studios including CI Studio 4: Speculation and Fictions, which took place at our E11 space at Edinburgh Napier University in January, CI Studio 5: Tools for Greener Making which took place at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in February, and CI Studio 6: Digital Publishing – Do’s and Don’ts, which took place at The Fruitmarket Gallery’s pop-up space at Waverley Mall in March.

When lockdown started at the end of March, our event plans for the rest of the year were thrown into disarray. Thankfully we found a new way to continue our engagement with creatives via an exciting new partnership with Visual Arts Scotland as part of their Emergency Art Workers Support Fund.

Working with the VAS team, we set up Friday Forum, a series of weekly online events established to support individuals in the creative industries facing a loss of income due to Covid-19.

Each Friday Forum featured four contributors who showcased snippets of their work, gave virtual tours around their studio spaces, talked about a particular topic or theme, or provided insights into their creative practice or career. Our first Friday Forum took place on the 24th of April and the series ran until the 24th of July. You can watch all 12 editions of Friday Forum now.

Creative Informatics Innovation Showcase

We also had to rethink plans for our first Creative Informatics Innovation Showcase, turning this into a day-long, online conference, with presentations from leading creative entrepreneurs in the UK and beyond, showcase spots from some of the individuals and companies we have supported so far, and a closing algorave from software artist, researcher and live coding musician Alex McLean. Re-watch highlights from our Innovation Showcase.

 

 

As social distancing measures continued into autumn, we decided to bring back our CI Labs as hybrid events, broadcasting online events live from venues in Edinburgh, with a mix of in venue and remote presentations, panels and performances. CI Lab #12: Creativity and curation in a post-digital world took place at Leith Theatre in September and was followed by CI Lab #13: Urban placemaking with creative technologies at Riddle’s Court in Edinburgh. We rounded up our CI Labs for the year with CI Lab #14: Games Go Guerilla, which took place at CodeBase last week as part of this year’s Beyond Conference.

CI Lab 12, Julie Freeman: Rodent Activity Transmissions systems (2016)

Our CI Studios also flipped to online and hybrid events with CI Studio 7: Introduction to Designing Chatbots and CI Studio 8: Stop Motion Animation Workshop taking place in June, followed by CI Studio 9: Getting creative with climate data, which was broadcast live from E11.

We’ve continued to hold workshops for individuals interested in applying for Creative Informatics funding opportunities throughout the year, and also held our second Partnership Forum event online in August, providing an opportunity for individuals working in the creative industries in Edinburgh and South East Scotland to share their thoughts on where Creative Informatics is succeeding, and where we need to make improvements.

We’ll be back with more hybrid (and hopefully in person) events next year, kicking off with our next Partnership Forum event, taking place online on Monday the 27th of January – sign up now!

Creative Informatics Research
Our CI Research Team have had a very busy 2020, working alongside the delivery team to help potential applicants looking for funding to formulate and articulate their ideas and conducting research on the current and evolving landscapes of the creative sector in and around Edinburgh.

CI Small Grant Holder Victoria Evans w/ Ray Interactive

Much of their focus this year has been on the effects of Covid-19 on the creative industries in Edinburgh and the UK. In February they launched a call for CI Small Research Grants, aimed at early career researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier University, to explore innovative uses or applications of data in creative and cultural sectors. The focus of this call was revised at the start of lockdown to encourage applications from researchers that were focussing on issues related to working in the creative industries during this pandemic. You can find out more about the five funded projects over on our CI Research Blog.

Elsewhere, our researchers have been working with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society to consider what the Fringe might look like in 2021 and beyond, they have launched an interactive map to establish the geographical spread, composition and make-up of the Creative Industries in the six local authorities which make our Edinburgh and South East Scotland creative cluster, and set up ‘Zoom Obscura’,  a new project working with artists and creative technologists to explore and challenge the rapidly normalising culture of video calls.

Fruitmarket Gallery, Nightwalk for Edinburgh

In the summer of 2020, we recruited five interns to support our research activity, all of whom were Masters students in Design Informatics at the Unversity of Edinburgh. Our CI interns worked on a broad range of projects including Flow Ctrl, a digital tool to assist the Talbot Rice Gallery with managing the flow of visitors through their gallery spaces, whilst ensuring visitor safety during the pandemic, and exploring new creative approaches to ticketing.

We have also provided research and technical expertise to support other organisations in Edinburgh’s creative community, working with Civic Digits Theatre Company on the development of their latest production for schools The Big Data Show, and collaborating with The Fruitmarket Gallery to revamp their Night Walk for Edinburgh experience, making it possible for users to take part without requiring headphones and mobile devices provided by the gallery.

You can find out more about all our research activity and publications here.

We can’t to continue our work with the Creative Industries in 2021. In addition to our regular funding calls and development opportunities, we’ll be back with more events and workshops, expanding our research activity and showcasing more of the innovative products, businesses and experiences produced by the amazing community of creative individuals and organisations that we’ve supported so far.

If you would like more information about any of our activity or have any questions about Creative Informatics, please contact us at creativeinformatics@ed.ac.uk.

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