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Creative Informatics Small Research Grants 2021-22: open call for academic research staff at UoE and ENU

This call for small grants is open to academic staff at University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier University

This call invites submissions for 3-9 month research projects, to begin by February 2022 and conclude by end of September 2022, to report results by November 1st 2022. There will be opportunities to disseminate the results through Creative Informatics.


September 30th 2021 5pm: Deadline for submission
End of October: Reviews and panel
November 4th 2021: Aim to announce successful Projects

Data and the Creative Industries

Is there a research project related to the creative sector you’d love to explore if you only had resources and support? Does it involve some kind of exploration or investigation into data or digital technologies?

Creative Informatics is launching an open competition for small research grants of up to £5,000 aimed at academics and researchers at any stage of their career, including PhD students. Project Principal Investigators (who can be PhD students) must be based at either the University of Edinburgh or Edinburgh Napier University. Proposed projects or activities should explore innovative uses or applications of data or digital technologies in the creative and cultural sectors. We aim to fund at least 5 of these projects.

Creative Informatics is an AHRC funded research and development programme based in Edinburgh, which aims to bring the city’s world-class creative industries and tech sector together to explore the opportunities and challenges of data-driven innovation in the creative sector. Creative Informatics is delivered by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University, Codebase and Creative Edinburgh. The programme is funded by the AHRC Creative Economy Programme with support from the Scottish Funding Council. The programme is part of the City Region Deal Data Driven Innovation initiative.

The Call

This is an open call and we aim to select a diverse portfolio of projects, however, we will especially encourage applications that address any of the following areas:

  • Data and Creative Practice
  • Creativity and Data Literacy
  • Future of Work in the Creative Industries
  • Beyond Economic Value in the Creative Industries
  • Physical/Virtual/Hybrid Creative Practices and collaboration over distance
  • Remote and Online Work in Creative Industries
  • Augmented physical and virtual spaces
  • Digital Platforms and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion in the Creative Industries
  • Freelancing, Gig-Work and Platform Economies  in the Creative Industries
  • Sustainable Creative Practice through Data
  • New Data-Driven Economies in the Creative Industries
  • Futures of Digital Festivals and Online Performance
  • FinTech, Fundraising and Digital Payments in Creative Industries
  • Unlocking value from digitised heritage content
  • IP ownership and human-machine coproduction
  • Machine Learning, AI and Automation in the Creative Industries

Examples of successfully funded projects from the last round of this call can be found here:

To support dissemination of the research and developing a wider Creative Informatics research community, we will ask successful projects to provide a short report and blog post detailing their activities and outcomes, and invite all of the projects to take part in a Creative Informatics research event in 2022/3.

Eligible Costs and Support

This funding is intended to cover the direct project costs of the proposal, and the costs should be clearly attributable to the project activities. Eligible costs may include:

  • Staff costs (see below)
  • Research assistance
  • Developing pilot projects
  • Art or research interventions
  • Workshops, meetings, events or exhibitions (where possible)
  • Resources and materials including software licences to support your research
  • Participant compensation
  • External partners to support your research (e.g. transcription, design work, software development).
  • Training or development necessary for the proposed project
  • Travel / dissemination activities (where possible)

Staff costs from the University of Edinburgh, or Edinburgh Napier University should not include institutional overheads or indirect costs, or any element that should properly be ascribed to institutional overheads. You should liaise with your relevant research office to ensure staff time is appropriately costed.
In-kind contributions are not required for these proposals, however where additional support from other organisations is committed, please describe this in the application form.

*Updated Guidance Post-Covid19*
Clearly, the landscape of what research we can safely and ethically do at the moment and indeed the value of that research, has changed quite rapidly as a result of COVID-19. As far as possible, we therefore ask applicants to be responsible and take into account the feasibility of any proposed research activities during this time. In particular, you should take note of limitations to travel, face-to-face contact, and any changes to your local university ethics policies. Clearly there is a great deal of uncertainty here, especially regarding how long current restrictions will last. In this case, we also ask you to consider in your application form any contingency plans for conducting your research under restricted circumstances. Please check with your own Research Office for latest guidance.

For some initial examples of possible alternatives to face-to-face research please see here.

Application and Selection Process

Applications are open now and close at 5pm on 30th September 30th 2021. Application forms should be completed online.


Applications will be reviewed and scored by an interdisciplinary panel of Creative Informatics researchers, supported by the wider Creative Informatics team. We aim to fund at least 5 projects of a 3-9 month duration. We aim to notify applicants by 4th of November 2021. Projects must begin by February 2022 at the latest, and conclude by September 2022.

We are looking for interdisciplinary research questions that challenge existing theoretical and methodological paradigms, and have potential economic, social or cultural impact (or all of these) for the creative industries in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland Region. Applications should bear in mind ethical approaches to research, abiding by host university regulations and procedures, and Creative Informatics own ethical guidelines for funded projects available here.

Projects will be judged on:

  • Clearly identified aims and objectives.
  • Academic rigour and appropriateness of methodology.
  • Novelty of the research questions and relevance of the project and relation to the Creative Informatics core research themes.
  • Clear definitions of how the research will engage and could benefit others in the creative sector.
  • Appropriate budgeting for the activities described in the proposal.
  • Compliance with ethical guidelines for funded Creative Informatics projects (see above).
  • Feasibility under restricted circumstances related to COVID-19.

This call is led by Creative Informatics’ Research Fellows, including Ingi Helgason, Inge Panneels and Susan Lechelt, who can additionally provide support to successful projects to forge connections with academic and creative partners.

Eligibility and Award Conditions

This call will open on 31st May 2021 to researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier University, with a submission deadline of 5pm on 30th
September 2021.

Specifically, principal applicants should:

  • Be currently employed at the University of Edinburgh or Edinburgh Napier University.
  • Be a researcher or research academic.
  • Or a PhD student with the approval of their supervisor.

Costs for collaborations from other organisations are also eligible. Applicants should also notify and provide details of their relevant research office, and have applications signed off by an appropriate line manager or academic supervisor.

Funds should be spent by the end of September 2022. Successful projects will be asked to provide a brief report and documentation of their research project by 1st November 2022 and to participate in a subsequent research event taking place in Edinburgh, or online, to disseminate their research.

For further information about this call, please contact:
For research enquiries:
Ingi Panneels, Ingi Helgason or Susan Lechelt.
For queries on the application process: creativeinformatics@ed.ac.uk