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Applications open

Amplifying Imagination – AI in the Creative Industries

Open date: Monday 19 February 2024   Close date: Monday 25 March 2024

Overview

A MyWorld Challenge Call delivered in partnership with Digital Catapult, funded by UKRI Strength In Places.

Companies in the creative industries are challenged to enhance the integration, advancement, or innovative application of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that optimise creative production approaches and processes.

Digital Catapult is leading this open innovation call as part of the MyWorld programme, aiming to deliver innovation-led growth in the West of England. Successful applicants will receive £50,000 to build a new product or develop an existing prototype in response to the challenges provided.

 

About the programme

Amplifying Imagination is a 16-week acceleration programme targeted at developers, creative studios, startups, and scaleups. Those who successfully apply will explore innovative artificial intelligence (AI) solutions optimising creative approaches or processes, specifically addressing industry challenges related to the capture, creation, delivery, or evaluation of experiences.

We are seeking projects that aspire to create new products, processes, services or innovative experimental prototypes which demonstrate clear advancement in the integration, application, development or assessment of AI approaches, models or products. See blog on the theme of AI in the creative industries.

The following are examples of challenges you may wish to develop a project around, but this list is intended to be inspirational, not exhaustive:

  • The exploration of assistant technologies to enable creatives to achieve things they would otherwise be unable to.
  • Adaptation of existing, or creation of new, AI models that directly respond to a challenge in the creative sector.
  • Analysis and interpretation of large data sets to provide insights into creative experiences.
  • Automation of routine tasks – potentially freeing up creative professionals to be more exploratory or productive.
  • Exploring the intersection of adaptive and responsive audience experience and the audience themselves.

Whilst the programme encompasses the full spectrum of AI in the creative industries, we have pinpointed specific challenges in collaboration with industry partners, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the BBC. Additionally, an Open Challenge is presented, inviting businesses to apply with areas of research and development (R&D) that align with their roadmap.

Applications are now open. You can apply for the programme here.

The deadline for applications is 23:59 on Monday 25 March 2024.

 

Benefits

*Please refer to the FAQs for more information on access and costing.

Up to £50,000 to develop a challenge-focused proof-of-concept in response to the challenges.

Regular meetings with industry partners to help businesses develop their solutions and define a route to market with commercial opportunities.

Digital Catapult-led workshops and masterclasses with access to expertise focusing on topics including value proposition and product development, investment readiness and business plan support.

Be part of a cohort of up to nine innovative businesses from the creative sector, and the wider MyWorld cohorts, sharing learnings and insights gained from the portfolio of programmes.

Access to the dynamic MyWorld network of industry, academia and mentors with technical and business expertise.

For the duration of the programme, get the opportunity to make use of existing MyWorld facilities, expertise and kit to aid experimentation and growth.*

Who’s involved

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Challenge

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides the infrastructure and platforms for thousands of creative companies across the globe, from serverless compute, transcoding services to media storage, AWS has been partly responsible for the growth in the technology sector over the past 20 years. With the recent advances in AI and Machine Learning, AWS is interested in what this can mean for SMEs in the creative industries.

This challenge is focused on how AI approaches can relieve some of the manually intensive and laborious tasks within the creative sector through automation, analysis and optimisation. Not the removal of the human, but freeing them up to work on interesting and exciting creative challenges that create competitive advantages for them, the West of England region and helps to grow the sector.

The projects could explore some of the following questions, although this list is illustrative and not exhaustive: 

Automation

  • What tools and approaches may be available to facilitate generation at an early creative stage to stimulate discussion and creative ideation? 
  • How could we better tag video assets with metadata accurately and quickly from large-volume shoots (e.g. Natural History, archive or documentary)? 

Data Analysis 

  • How can we enhance the user experience, for example, by creating personalisation or recommendation services, or using data analysis to improve automated problem resolution?
  • How can we leverage cutting-edge data analysis to better schedule resourcing and project management, ensuring optimal utilisation, cost-effectiveness and sustainable approaches? 
  • How well is our creative project performing across platforms, and how can we better promote it?

Optimisation 

  • How can we optimise performance metrics; dynamically adjusting configurations based on real-time demands and workload variation to enable scaling? 
  • How can content be adapted for different uses, such as upscaling and downscaling or frame interpolation? Could data be cleaned in early preparation stages? Can old content be repurposed by using restoration techniques?

Challenge Benefits 

As an Industry Partner, AWS are providing the following benefits to the successful projects to this challenge:

  • AWS Credits – up to $3500 per project – subject to conditions and further review by AWS
  • Mentoring – AWS Representative assigned to the project to review and mentor progress

BBC Challenge

The BBC is a renowned institution in the realm of broadcasting and media, known for its commitment to delivering high-quality content to a diverse global audience with a rich history in audio production. The BBC’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of technology and enhancing the audio experience for its broad and varied audience has led to the focus of this challenge exploring the potential of AI solutions in addressing the complex challenges of ensuring a consistent audio experience across diverse devices and environments.

The challenge of consistency involves variables like room dimensions, loudspeaker placement, background noise, and individual hearing abilities. The shift to headphone-centric or acoustically treated studio mixing further complicates achieving an ideal audience reception. Existing solutions replicate headphone and loudspeaker responses, but a comprehensive approach or product integrating device loudspeakers, room acoustics, background noise, and listener characteristics is lacking and a multitude of variables in such a simulation makes manual creation impractical.

We are seeking solutions which seek to empower listeners and audio engineers to effortlessly craft diverse listening experiences, testing mixes across scenarios for improved listener quality, allowing audio engineers and producers to experiment and innovate.

The projects could explore some of the following questions, although this list is illustrative and not exhaustive:

  • How can we use AI technologies to overcome the many challenges in ensuring a consistent and optimal audio experience for diverse listeners across various devices and environments? 
  • What AI solutions could be created for capture, recreation or output of audio mixed and produced in one setting, but played back/consumed in another?

Project proposals could explore areas including but not limited to large language models, acoustic models, impulse response libraries or sound scape generation, for example.

Challenge Benefits 

As an Industry Partner, the BBC are providing the following benefits to the successful projects to this challenge:

  • Discussions with BBC R&D Researchers with experience in accessible audio 
  • Access to audio assets (subject to clearance) for various kind of content 
  • Possible co-dissemination support of outputs

Open Challenge

We encourage businesses to apply to this call with areas of research and development (R&D) that are relevant to your roadmap. If the Industry partner-led challenges from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the BBC do not address your sector, or current R&D priorities, please apply to the Open Challenge option of this call.

The following are examples of challenges you may wish to develop a project around, this list is intended to be inspirational, not exhaustive. Other innovations utilising AI to address fundamental challenges or opportunities within the Creative Industries are welcome: 

  • The exploration of AI technologies to enable creatives to achieve new ways of working and/or processes that they would otherwise be unable to.
  • Adaptation of existing, or creation of new, AI models that directly respond to a challenge in the creative sector.
  • Analysis and interpretation of large data sets to provide insights into creative experiences.
  • Automation of routine tasks – potentially freeing up creative professionals to be more exploratory or productive. 
  • Exploring the challenge of ownership, authorship and copyright in a world where content creation is potentially automated
  • Addressing ethical questions ensuring responsible and fair use, and exploring the impact of AI on cultural representation and sensitivity in creative works.
  • Exploring the intersection of adaptive and responsive audience experience and the audience themselves.

The funding could be used to create a new prototype, accelerate development of a product or service, or explore the integration of existing AI solutions.

Who should apply?

The programme is inviting applications from startups, scaleups, creative studios and developers who work in the creative sectors, areas include but are not limited to:

  • Broadcast, film, TV, video and audio
  • Gaming
  • Live events, music, performing and visual arts
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Design: product, graphic and fashion
  • Sports and esports
  • Architecture
  • Heritage

Although the MyWorld programme is focused on the West of England region it is important to note that for this Challenge Call, we will also welcome applications from UK registered businesses who are outside the region but can demonstrate impact in the West of England region (see map). We strongly encourage applicants to refer to the selection criteria with particular emphasis on how the project can provide long-term benefits to the region.

Defining Impact in the West of England

As we evaluate applications, we will review the potential economic and social impact of the proposed projects on the region. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for further definitions of what we mean by impact.

Applications are now open

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Key info

How to Apply

An overview of the application process is as follows:

  1. Applicants must apply via the application form which can be found here.
  2. As part of the application, you will be asked to demonstrate that you meet the conditional requirements for the Challenge Call.
  3. Once you start your application you will have until 23:59 GMT on Monday 25 March to submit your application.
  4. Should you require any assistance with the application you can reach out to the team at [email protected] to explore the suitability of your project for the challenges.

Selection Process

Below is the selection process for the programme:

Applications judged and long listed
Once applications close, completed applications are assessed by a panel of judges from the programme and industry partners, based on the selection criteria. At this stage applications will be selected for the longlist.

Shortlisting
An internal review will take place with the judging panel to select a shortlist from the longlisted applications.

Interview day and final selection
The shortlisted project team will be invited to an interview with Digital Catapult and its partners. This interview stage is intended to provide an opportunity for project teams to present their idea and answer any questions the judges may have. The panel will then deliberate and select the final cohort of nine projects.

Selection Criteria

Applications to Amplifying Imagination will be assessed and selected based on all the following criteria:

  • Strength and Originality
    The idea presents an innovative solution to the challenge selected by the applicant. The proposal demonstrates a high level of innovation in the application, development, or integration of AI technologies. It also considers and demonstrates ethical considerations in the development and application of AI.
  • Value for Money
    The idea is relevant to the programme theme and is feasible within the budget and timescale of the call. Ideas should also take into account the potential economic benefits, cost-effectiveness and sustainability of the AI innovation.
  • Team Experience
    The team is equipped with the appropriate technology and business skills and has a good track record to deliver the proposed solution within 16 weeks.
  • Impact and Development Plan
    The proposal demonstrates an ambition for a positive impact in the West of England region and is likely to be suitable for further development after the programme. Applicants should clearly state how their project will benefit the West of England region in terms of potential long-term benefits; economic and social. Please refer to the FAQs on Defining Impact in the West of England. As well as evaluating the economic benefit, your project should demonstrate the extent to which the proposed AI innovation considers and addresses the ethical considerations, societal impact, and potential risks, ensuring responsible and sustainable outcomes.