Data hits all the right notes for creatives

Innovation and experimentation in the arts is driving transformational change


As pandemic restrictions are increasingly eased for most of us, businesses across every sector are looking for creative solutions to the challenges they’ve faced over the past 18 months and those that lay ahead. Fortunately, the creative sector it-

self – spanning everything from ad- vertising and architecture to video and the visual arts – is built on solid foundations and is full of ingenious, inventive and optimistic people to get us all to a brighter future. Before the pandemic, I worked

with the Data-Driven Innova- tion (DDI) Programme, part of the £1.3bn Edinburgh and South-east Scotland City Region Deal, to under- stand the data-driven skills, needs and ambitions of the industry itself. Consequently we developed and implemented the Creative Industries Sector Plan and then, working with the Edinburgh Futures Institute, we published the white paper Develop- ing Data-Driven Innovation in the Creative Industries. A key early success was securing

funding from the Arts & Humani- ties Research Council, matched by Scottish Funding Council and the DDI Programme to set up the Cre- ative Informatics Cluster in Edin- burgh in October 2018. Tis cluster is run in partnership with Edin- burgh Napier University and indus- try partners CodeBase and Creative Edinburgh. Te programme has supported the sector with £1.6m of investment, 1,900 engagements through countless events, support- ing 36 resident entrepreneurs, 14

The Creative Informatics Cluster is helping to build the next generation of creative businesses

challenge projects and 13 connected innovators, generating 62 minimum viable products thus far. Te cluster brings together aca-

demics, creative and cultural organ- isations, freelancers, industry trade bodies, creative entrepreneurs and artists, providing a range of funding and development opportunities open to anyone working across the creative industries in Edinburgh and south-east Scotland who would like to use data and data-driven technologies to develop innovative products, businesses or audience experiences.

One example of how creative innovation is supported though the various strands of the Creative Infor- matics Cluster programme is sound services start-up Black Goblin. Te company aims to change how film- makers, game developers and other creatives work with sound, through its software product that allows anyone to create audio from scratch in an easy, non-technical way. Black Goblin co-founder Ana

Betancourt participated in CI’s Creative Bridge programme, and


she and co-founder Gabrielle Haley received CI’s resident entrepreneur funding to develop their product. Tey met new collaborators,

expanded their team and built a network of partners and contrac- tors through the Creative Bridge and wider CI community. Black Goblin has showcased its

work at CI Lab, the CI Innovation Showcase 2020 and additional events that arose from connections made through the CI programme. Tey also featured in a CI-arranged media feature which led directly to collaboration discussions with a leading industry player. Te company was accepted onto

the Great British Entrepreneur Awards’ Kickstart Employment Scheme, and now has a team of five, with further growth on the cards. In short, engagement with the

CI Cluster took the company from early startup through to minimum viable product (commercial product release is planned for summer 2022) and opened up employment oppor- tunities. Black Goblin looks to have a bright, sustainable future. Te list of beneficiaries of the

CI Cluster is long and varied: the Ocean ARTic project sees creatives working with the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for

Scotland to respond to the impact of climate change; Cop 26-related projects include work with groups in Nepal and Sri Lanka; and a fund- ed CI Challenge set by the List, the UK’s leading events data group, has been answered by machine learn- ing specialist Viapontica, to develop an AI image-cropping pipeline.

For the full view of Creative Informatics’ successes and poten- tial, the annual two-day CI Inno- vation Showcase offers a packed programme exploring the latest innovations in the creative industries in Edinburgh and beyond. Tis year’s free event took place on 8-9 June and featured an “in conversation” with Dr Anne Marie Imafidon, and an in- teractive performance from comedy duo Foxdog Studios. Te creative sector is unlike any

other. Not only does it bring us great creative products, services, audience experiences and joy, it is also woven into every aspect of life in Scotland, with creatives working within every kind of business. Tose who pursue creativity

professionally, who qualify with creative specialisms from school, college and university, can pursue jobs in the creative and cultural sector and bring their creative skill to any part of the economy. By engaging creatives with cutting-

edge data-driven innovation and creative tech, and facilitating collabo- ration and experimentation, we aim to support creatives to develop their ideas and bring them to fruition as sustainable businesses. Teir desire to push boundaries and harness tech- nology with their creativity leads to innovation in the sector, and impacts the wider economy. l

Caroline Parkinson, EFI Sector Engagement Manager, Creative Industries at Edinburgh Innovations

Partner Content in association with Edinburgh Innovations.

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