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Innovative start-ups receive windfall in boost to Bristol’s creative technology centre

Posted 30 Apr 2024

Seven cutting-edge companies have been welcomed onto the MyWorld programme to position the West of England as a hub of creative technology

(Bristol, United Kingdom, 30th April, 2024): Creating dialogue for every possible outcome in video games, moving musical experiences from stereo to immersive and holding ticketed events in virtual spaces are among seven pioneering projects which have been granted a share of £1.2 million. The cutting-edge companies have been welcomed onto the MyWorld programme, led by the University of Bristol, and selected by Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology.  

MyWorld, a global centre of creative technology innovation, is built on the production, technology and research strengths of the West of England region to create a unique proposition for creative emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and extended reality (XR). It is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strength in Places Fund (SIPF).

Immersive experiences will be a priority for the new cohort, as businesses realise the economic and commercial potential of virtual environments. Real World Studios, known for its expertise in music production, will focus on advancing immersive audio workflows to enhance the listener experience. Using listener feedback analysis from partners Bath Spa University, Real World Studios will develop novel music for diverse audiences, premiering with a performance at WOMAD25. Bristol-based Condense will explore immersive entertainment by refining and developing volumetric live-streaming technology. This work will enable live performances to be broadcast seamlessly into virtual spaces, opening up new revenue streams through ticketing and sponsorship within virtual events. 

Condense is not the only participating company that will elevate the West of England’s virtual media production capabilities, cementing its position as a Virtual Production centre of excellence, as x-io Technologies and Distortion Creative Group will both be developing pioneering volumetric capture solutions. x-io Technologies, working in collaboration with the University of the West of England, will address the need for inclusive motion capture by developing technology that empowers individuals of all body types during mixed reality performances, enhancing accessibility in media production. Meanwhile, Distortion Creative Group will develop pioneering volumetric capture solutions that merge technologies to incorporate real human interaction into virtual worlds, catering to commercial demands.  

The cohort will also explore applications of AI and machine learning, as Meaning Machine, a studio developing gameplay that uses natural language AI, will continue its development of a generative AI system for in-game characters. This will enable video-game characters to interact within their own world, in real-time, to create a more engaging and immersive gameplay experience. With DynaDolly, Motion Impossible aims to combine the precision of motion control with the finesse of human operators, leveraging technologies like optical tracking and machine learning. The goal of this research is to create a system that ensures consistency in camera control while preserving the creative influence of production crews. 

Black Laboratory will focus on the use of puppets for virtual media production, developing live puppet performance technology that will expand creative possibilities in filming and animation, unlocking opportunities to grow the UK’s entertainment and media industry, which is set to be worth £97 billion by 2026. The convergence of creativity with digital innovation will be instrumental in helping the sector to meet demand for more compelling and immersive media content, and MyWorld’s latest cohort will play a key role in sharpening the West of England’s media production edge, with the programme expected to generate 700 new jobs and boost the regional economy by £223 million.

Digital Catapult will support each participating company by providing access to opportunities by connecting projects to both the MyWorld and Digital Catapult networks, technological expertise, and bespoke support, as it furthers its commitment to supporting the country’s creative industries. The organisation is an established pioneer of virtual media production, having launched the UK’s first network of advanced media production studios last year, to drive sustainable growth of the sector and to meet demand for more immersive media content.

Sarah Addezio, Senior Innovation Partner for Digital Catapult said: “De-risking Innovation in the Creative sector represents a significant opportunity to generate economic and cultural value for the UK in the coming years, as the country’s creative industries account for 6% of the UK economy. The pioneering, cutting-edge solutions that are set to be developed by MyWorld’s new cohort are testament to the talent and innovation that exists in the West of England. I have no doubt that these exciting creative businesses will demonstrate the potential to scale and grow their solutions, and will further cement the West of England as a creative powerhouse.”

Professor David Bull, MyWorld Director from the University of Bristol, said: “The strength of applications for this new round of MyWorld funding has reaffirmed the importance and value of strategic collaborative R&D funding across the West of England’s creative sector.  As our first cohort of projects from CR&D1 move toward exploitation, we can’t wait to see what further opportunities these new projects will generate for the partners and the region.