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Creative Fuse North East Awards £250k to regional research

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Published on 14 December 2017

Creative FUSE North East
Creative FUSE North East

The Innovation Pilot and Innovation Development Awards offered grants of up to £25,000 to SMEs, freelancers and creative and cultural organisations from across the Creative, Digital and IT (CDIT) sectors. They teamed up with academics from the North East's five universities to propose groundbreaking new projects.

The funded proposals are extremely varied, but what they each have in common is the creative 'fusion' of arts and design skills with technology expertise.

Some of the project which the University is involved with which have received funding from Creative Fuse North East are:


Interactive Storytelling for Patient Education (Bariatric Surgery)

A team from the University of Sunderland, Teesside University and SockMonkey Studios and are developing a prototype Interactive System Platform for patient education that can be easily adapted for different uses. The project will produce a mobile app featuring engaging visuals and gamification to help communicate information easily, in a way that can be personalised and encourages user interaction.

This pilot will use Bariatric Surgery (also called weight loss surgery) as a test case with the potential to go forward as a proof of concept for other clinical settings (e.g. cancer treatments). This project responds to the demands for effective methods of communicating complex health information and ensuring patient understanding of life-changing treatment options, while also trialing a means of producing AI techniques for content-personalisation and 3D game engines designed to be reconfigurable for different domains – an innovation that could reduce the economic burden of developing these kind of tools.



Sage Gateshead, Festival of Thrift, Theatre Hullabaloo and a range of Digital SMEs and freelancers will come together alongside the University of Sunderland and Teesside University to boost digital development across the region’s cultural and arts organisations. The project identifies synergies between three distinct case studies (large scale, small scale and festival) to deepen understandings around the potential of “digital” for these organisations and test co-design between Cultural, Academic and Digital thinkers.

Through consultations, design, prototyping and knowledge exchange events, #NECultureisDigital will identify the key digital innovation challenges cultural organisations face and work to inform the development of each organisation’s digital strategy – sparking R&D, confidence, resilience and new connections between the Cultural and Digital business communities.


The View from There

How can immersive technologies within cultural experience bring people together to examine societal challenges? This project explores the ways that Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies enhance the link between culture and innovation.

This project is a collaboration between the University of Sunderland, Southpaw Dance Company, digital SMEs and Teesside University. Envisioned as the first steps within a multi-year, multi-channel cultural innovation project, “The View From There” aims to co-create a prototype process with artists, technologists, academics and the public to demonstrate the value of different perspectives, and of participating in societal debate; explore how culture helps us to articulate our questions about the systems surrounding us; and test how we can uncover solutions to societal challenges and how we might collaborate to deliver these solutions.

The View From There will invite participants to come together around the potential of immersive technologies to enhance participation and connect cultural experience directly to societal challenges.



This project combines wearable technologies and Artificial Intelligence for the sports and healthcare sectors with the overall aim of promoting personal health and wellbeing. The technology has the ability to assess and monitor an individual’s gait analysis across a number of sports, diagnostics and rehabilitation. The project team from the University of Sunderland, Shoes2Run and Northumbria University will develop, test and validate the AI system.


Sunderland Data Labs

This project addresses critical infrastructure issues and difficulties in the city associated with wayfinding, impacting on commercial businesses. Creatively gathering and using data, the project will create new assets to be used by a range of community and business audiences.

The project will be developed in partnership with Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID), fusing community data mapping activities with creative design, visualisation and fabrication ‘data lab’ events in order to explore and innovate fresh ways to collect, visualise, and share the experiences of individuals and communities within and around the Sunderland BID.

The View From There sees Sunderland researchers team up with colleagues at Teesside University and digital SMEs with Newcastle-based Southpaw Dance Company. Their project fuses dance theatre with virtual reality technology to approach social challenges from a range of different perspectives.

Robby Graham, Artistic Director of Southpaw Dance Company said: "We're delighted to be chosen as one of the Creative Fuse Innovation Pilots. We pride ourselves on creating captivating experiences for dancers, community casts and audiences, and the chance to experiment with immersive technologies to enhance our capabilities is very exciting."

Professor Eric Cross, Principal Investigator for Creative Fuse, based at Newcastle University, said: "We have been very impressed with the ideas that the region has brought to this open call. We hope that these collaborations generate new ways to bring traditional arts and culture into the digital world and demonstrate how creativity can spill over beyond the CDIT sector and stimulate innovation elsewhere, including the health, agriculture, and construction sectors. These awarded projects signify the start of an incredibly exciting time for Creative Fuse and the North East."

The full list of projects can be found on the Creative Fuse website http://www.creativefusene.org.uk/innovation-pilots

Creative Fuse North East is a unique partnership between Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham, Sunderland and Teesside Universities and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the European Regional Development Fund, and Arts Council England. The project offers a variety of business innovation support opportunities, insights into the regional creative economy, and brings different working disciplines into closer collaboration through their monthly CAKE (Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange) networking events.