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AI in Visual Arts and Media: Why now is the right time to accelerate support for AI startups driving innovation in the Creative Industries

Posted 5 Nov 2020

The UK has world leading creative and digital sectors, contributing over £100 billion each to the economy. This includes some of the world’s most innovative artificial intelligence (AI) companies and most successful producers of film, music, and video games. Now there is an emerging movement of Creative Technology (CreaTech) startups that are leveraging advanced digital technologies like virtual reality (VR)/augmented reality (AR) and AI to deliver unique experiences, accelerate virtual production, and push the boundaries of digital art.

This is an exciting time for AI startups working in the creative industries; the UK has a dual comparative advantage in both the quality and breadth of AI research relevant to the creative industries and the strength of it’s globally competitive creative sector. However, challenges remain regarding the widespread adoption of AI solutions by the creative industries. Furthermore, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the creative sector with many business models being disrupted and a great number of jobs lost as a result. Solutions powered by AI and other advanced digital technologies can contribute to a sustainable recovery as the world’s consumption of creative content becomes even more digital.

Digital Catapult, the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation centre, is committed to supporting the adoption of advanced digital technologies by the UK’s Creative sector. There is enormous potential for the application of key technology layers with immersive technologies (VR/AR/Haptics) leading the way on Digital Catapult initiatives such as the CreativeXR and Augmentor programmes which deliver funding, mentoring and technical support to immersive startups. The impact of this support can be seen in the CreativeXR audience feedback and the backing from investors who have contributed £6.7 million into early stage XR companies supported by Augmentor. In early 2020, Digital Catapult also partnered with the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) to connect AI startups working in media to key industry players through an AI in Media open call and showcase, an initiative already leading to industry pilots. Finally, this year, CreativeXR has offered an AI strand for companies producing immersive content with an element of AI, whilst the 5G Testbed Acceleration programme welcomed seven creative startups with work involving AI to produce 5G demonstrators.

The latest stage of this continuing support for the digital and creative sectors comes from the flagship AI programme: Machine Intelligence Garage. Since the launch of the Machine Intelligence Garage in 2018, participating AI startups have accessed around $10 million in innovation-unlocking compute support, thanks to partners like AWS, GCP, and Nvidia, and raised nearly £38 million in investment. The programme is also a leader in the area of Applied AI Ethics. Each startup receives expert advice from members of an eminent Ethics Committee, including AI startups like Loomi that agree ethics is central to value propositions.

This themed cohort of the Machine Intelligence Garage is focused on AI startups specialising in Visual Arts & Media. This means that each aspect of the programme will be tailored to the needs of AI startups operating within the creative industries. Examples of such tailored support will include industry intelligence and networking events in partnership with organisations like the DPP and BIMA as well as technical and AI ethics workshops focused on relevant areas like computer vision and bias within AI systems. The application of AI to drive innovation in the CreaTech space is at an exciting and critical inflection point.

The Machine Intelligence Garage programme provides AI startups with:

  • Compute power and technical workshops
  • Applied AI Ethics support
  • Business support and industry intelligence
  • Investment support

Find out more about the programme here.

The open call for applications to the Machine Intelligence Garage closes on the 11 of November. Apply here.