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Celebrating Five Years of Creative Informatics  

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The Creative Informatics Cluster culminated its five-year programme with a series of events at the Edinburgh Science Festival and the launch of a new book.

The Creative Informatics Cluster culminated its five-year programme with two exciting achievements: a series of events at the Edinburgh Science Festival and the launch of a new book edited by Creative Informatics researchers. 

Looking back 

Since 2018, Creative Informatics has sought to bring the city’s world-class creative industries and tech sector together through an ambitious research and development programme 

The programme was part of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme; a UK-wide initiative led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council designed to drive innovation, growth, and sustainability in the Creative Industries, through a first-of-its-kind research and development investment of £80 million by the UK government.  

Creative Informatics was also part-funded by the Data-Driven Innovation Programme of the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal, with additional funding from the Scottish Funding Council and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. It was delivered in partnership across four organisations: The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, CodeBase and Creative Edinburgh. 

Across the last five years, Creative Informatics has engaged with almost 3000 businesses and individuals, with 683 benefitting from training and new skills programmes, and 136 SMEs supported to explore data-driven business opportunities. This work has led to the creation or retention of 455 jobs and created 212 new products, services, and experiences, which has in turn generated over £7.6 million in further funding and investment.  

The programme has also delivered a series of showcase events and activities in collaboration with creative partners and funded participants. 

Unleashing the power of data at the Edinburgh Science Festival 2024 

Creative Informatics delivered its final interactive showcase at the Edinburgh Science Festival 2024, which closed on 14 April. An exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland along with talks and demonstrations covering Creative AI, virtual production and the Scottish games industry, offered audiences the chance to engage with the groundbreaking work that has been developed through funding and support from the Creative Informatics programme. 

Creative Informatics: Unleashing the Power of Data at the National Museum of Scotland provided a snapshot of the groundbreaking work that has come out of the programme through 15 exhibits that demonstrated an incredible range of creative projects using data in innovative and playful ways. 

For instance, the showcase included a project that used geospatial data and Python programming to turn raw data into pixel art, and an app that enabled festival goers to create music with children’s building blocks. 

Some exhibits featured environmental themes, such as a sculpture carved with patterns reflecting data on biodiversity, and a VR game exploring the Scottish Highlands. 

The showcase also included an intimate portrait of a cancer patient’s journey, featuring glass casts representing treatments, drawn from scientific and medical data.  

Data-Driven Innovation in the Creative Industries 

Data Driven Innovation in the Creative Industries Book Cover

Last week, Creative Informatics also announced the publication of a new book by Creative Informatics researchers. 

Data-Driven Innovation in the Creative Industries, published by Routledge, is a new collection of essays edited by University of Edinburgh academics Melissa Terras, Vikki Jones, Nicola Osborne and Chris Speed. 

The book centres the role of data, digital technologies and innovations in the production and consumption of creative products and services. It reflects on our experiences in delivering, researching, and supporting the creative industries in Edinburgh and South East Scotland through the Creative Informatics programme, while also taking a necessarily global perspective, to examine how we can support creative industries to make use of data-driven innovation and digital technologies in their work. 

One of the book editors, Professor Melissa Terras said: 

The Creative Industries (the place where business and the arts, culture, and heritage intersect) are an immensely important part of the UK economy, worth an estimated £128bn per year. Many creatives are innovating with digital and data, and this is especially true after the “digital shift” of COVID-19 where existing markets and revenue streams were disrupted and changed. We must do all we can to support creatives in this rapidly changing space, and this book sets out both the current state of play, and emerging challenges, including how to upskill creatives, legal aspects, the environment and sustainability, and how best to support a diverse and inclusive creative cohort when innovating with data. 

Forging ahead with the power of data 

With the culmination of the Creative Informatics programme in Summer 2024, Melissa said: 

“There’s no doubt that the Edinburgh creative tech community is special, given that it sits at the juncture of a world-leading cultural city, and one with an immensely successful start-up ecosystem, and we hope that the bridges we’ve built here show others how best to encourage creatives to make new digital and data driven products and services, keeping them ahead of the international game.” 

A closely related initiative alongside the Creative Informatics programme was the launch of the CreativeTech Scotland Gathering annual event in 2022. 

The CreativeTech Scotland Gathering was created to draw together the creative and cultural sector and CreativeTech experts with academia to provide a locus for innovation, collaboration, and inspiration on data-driven innovation and the use of creative technologies. This also provides a place for creative practitioners who are part of the Creative Informatics network to continue to engage with each other, and with different creative companies, cultural organisations and academic researchers. 

Edinburgh Futures Institute has worked closely with the Creative Informatics Programme through the Institute’s Sector Engagement Manager for the Creative Industries, Caroline Parkinson. Caroline said: 

“Working closely with the programme over the last five years, we deepened collaboration across the University ecosystem, introducing creative innovators to skills, funding, and innovation support such as the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) programme and Edinburgh Innovations. As the Institute opens in June, we will start to welcome creative tenants and sector events in the Futures Institute, including the CreativeTech Scotland Gathering 2025. We will continue support for impact in data-driven research and CreativeTech innovation in Edinburgh and across Scotland over the next five years of the DDI programme.” 

Further links and information 

Creative Informatics: Unleashing the Power of Data – meet the exhibitors 

Data-Driven Innovation in the Creative Industries, the new book led by Creative Informatics researchers 

CreativeTech Scotland 

Edinburgh Futures Institute Hosts CreativeTech Scotland Gathering 2023 

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