Frank Boyd, Director of the Creative Industries, Design and Digital Economy at the Knowledge Transfer Network

Blending creative practice and tech R&D for the future health of the UK economy

Frank Boyd is Director of the Creative Industries, Design and Digital Economy at the Knowledge Transfer Network, one of the three founding partners of the Arts and Technology pilot programme. Here, he explains the KTN’s involvement, and what effects he hopes the programme will have…

From a personal perspective, the drive for the programme is deep rooted.

I’ve been working on projects that explore the relationship between technology, art practice and the creative industries since setting up Artec, the first digital arts centre in the UK, over 25 years ago. That’s a mission I pursued in a number of roles in the arts sector, broadcast and audio visual industries before engaging in the wider industrial innovation work of the Knowledge Transfer Network and Innovate UK.

The origins of the current Art and Technology Programme are in the joint development by the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK) and the Creative Industries KTN. It’s a strategic approach to innovation which emphasises the value of interdisciplinary collaboration between people whose professional training derives from the arts and engineers or technologists.

This was explicitly stated in the TSB’s Creative Industries Strategy, published in 2013:

“We recognise that innovation in the creative industries is driven by an intricate relationship between content and technology; the collaboration between artist and scientist. We will further develop our already good relationships with partners, such as cultural institutions and other organisations in the sector, to explore how we can best work together through our various remits (in innovation support, fostering the arts and content creation, advancing skills development etc) to further enhance the innovation climate in the UK.”

The launch of that strategy document led directly to the discussions between Innovate UK, ACE and KTN which resulted in the Art and Technology programme.

The Art and Technology pilot programme is an experiment that aims to explore approaches to supporting and accelerating innovation by combining arts practice with technology R&D.

It seeks to achieve three kinds of outcome: new creative output or artworks, novel applications of technology, the development of greater resilience and sustainability of creative businesses and practitioners.

By taking different approaches, the three participants — Makerversity, Near Now and Madlab — are testing a wider range of environments and inputs.

Properly evaluated, the learning from the three centres will help to inform other organisations that might want to do something similar as well as influencing future policy in ACE and Innovate UK.

KTN believes that ‘fusion’, the interdisciplinary blending of creative practice and technology R&D, is critical to the future health of the UK economy and its growth.

We hope that the pilot programme will provide evidence to support this assertion and demonstrate how it can be supported and facilitated in the public and private sectors.

The innovative Arts and Technology programme was established in conjunction with three partners.

So what are the aspirations of each stakeholder? Here are the thoughts of:

Tom Campbell, the Knowledge Transfer Network’s Joint Head of Creative Industries
Lucy Sollitt, Creative Media Relationship Manager, London, Arts Council England
Matt Brown, Lead Technologist, Creative Industries at Innovate UK

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