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Aug 11. 2023

Sowing the Seeds of Innovation: a look at the Media Cymru Seed Fund programme

Media Cymru x Innovation Pipeline recap

The Innovation Pipeline, launched by Media Cymru in 2022, offers targeted funding and training to support media sector growth in the Cardiff Capital Region and across Wales. It aims to enhance research, development, and innovation capabilities, fostering more ideas, diversity, and industry growth.

Creative freelancers and businesses were given the opportunity to apply for funding of up to £10,000 to conduct research and development (R&D) for innovative products, services, and media experiences. The Media Cymru 2023 Seed Funding has been granted to 18 projects, covering various themes such as virtual production (VP), immersive experience, and mental health and wellbeing, among others. The recipients of the funding have a timeframe of 3-5 months to conclude their projects, with support provided by partners PDR and the Alacrity Foundation.

Find out more about the Innovation Pipeline.

How PDR is helping and the projects so far

PDR's Designer-User Researchers, Siena DeBartolo and Ollie Sutcliffe, have been part of this programme since the beginning, bringing their distinct expertise to support project development.

“We both have our own areas of interest and specialisation as designers”, Siena says. “I enjoy helping organisations and people approach problems creatively by using design thinking and tools to facilitate conversations, connections and insights. A lot of my projects have a social good or environmental sustainability lens to them.”

Ollie continues, “I like to apply design as a strategic approach to developing products. I’m interested in developing emerging technologies, exploring how they can be best used to serve people and how they can be developed in viable ways.”

Siena and Ollie also note, “seed-funded projects don’t originate exclusively from the media sector, these projects come from diverse fields such as virtual production, the arts, and gaming. These are individuals with innovative ideas aimed at addressing societal problems. Our role is to support them through research and development, regardless of their prior R&D knowledge”.

PDR is supporting a total of 18 seed-funded projects through a series of workshops and dedicated 1:1 support sessions, which are facilitated by Siena and Ollie.

Siena shares some of the projects she’s helping develop: “One project I’m working on is ‘New Formats to Support the Catalogue Music Space’. It’s led by music industry professionals Dark Arts, who aim to bring historical catalogue music into the future and find new ways to engage audiences with this massive musical resource. We’ve helped guide them in their R&D Journey through crafting research questions, developing a survey to guide their investigation, and equipping them with skills to develop and prototype a service.”

“Another project is ‘Urban Alchemy’, which primarily involves individuals with a background in theatre design. They aim to make a positive impact on Cardiff's tourism industry by utilising abandoned retail spaces and creating immersive experiences within them. This project is intriguing because it involves practical considerations, such as engaging with the council and collaborating with landlords. We have conducted several sessions to guide the team and explore possibilities, such as organising workshops in public spaces or creating mock-ups of empty spaces to gather public input on desired experiences.”

Ollie has been working with the following projects: “I’m helping Esports Wales to develop a talent pipeline for aspiring individuals interested in e-sports. Supporting the creation communities for young people, analysing their educational content and identifying the pathways that can lead them to professional careers within the e-sports industry in Wales. This project also encompasses various aspects that align with Welsh government initiatives to promote Welsh-speaking content and Wales-based talent.

“Another project I’ve been supporting is with 4Pi Productions, creators of 360 video and immersive content. Their aim is to create portable immersive environments, exploring the needs of viewers, creators and commissioners of content. Their project seeks to develop accessible and inclusive content that can be held in public spaces. In doing so they hope to expand both their audience base and their ability to produce immersive content.

Ollie and Siena are excited for the future, “we’re still in the early stages of these projects but it’s a very exciting journey so far with brilliant people and innovative ideas. We’re looking forward to seeing the outcomes!”

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