Arts & humanities researchers tap into new funding scheme

Researchers put their ideas to the test during a workshop as part of the Founders Fund for Creatives programme

RESEARCHERS in arts and humanities are exploring applications for their work thanks to a new funding scheme that encourages entrepreneurial thinking in disciplines beyond science and technology. 

The Founders Fund for Creatives programme is supporting the development of early-stage projects that could offer up commercial opportunities or be explored for wider social, community or creative impact. 

Involving collaboration between the University of Glasgow, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The Glasgow School of Art, the programme, which launched last November, is now actively engaging teams of researchers across a wide range of ideas and mediums, from podcasts to mobile apps. 

The first cohort of potential entrepreneurs attended the first in a series of workshops last month where they began testing out their ideas and applying new skills that could see them extending the reach and impact of their work beyond the academic setting. 

Of the first 15 projects to be selected under the programme, 10 of them are from the College of Arts and Humanities at the University, and seven involve collaboration between the partner institutions. Successful applicants were selected by judging panels at each institution in consultation with external experts. 

The University projects cover a diverse range of research and potential application in the outside world, from detecting forgeries in the world of Robert Burns’ manuscripts to improving diversity in the screen industries. 

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has three projects: an animated retelling of a medieval Shetlandic folktale as part of a series of work to educate people about Scotland’s history; a queer-led musical podcast company that is exploring Britain’s first queer communities; and promoting health and wellbeing among medical students through the benefits of singing. 

The two projects from The Glasgow School of Art are: improving research skills training in Higher Education through game-based learning; and a creative growth model that allows “creative and cultural practitioners and organisations to relationally map their growth and development.” 

The Founders Fund for Creatives is a joint pilot innovation fund for early-stage projects that provides up to £10k per project for six months. The programme is supported by the Scottish Funding Council through its University Innovation Fund. 

Successful applicants will benefit from training in innovation relevant to arts and humanities projects, as well as support and guidance on project development. 

Mel Anderson, Head of IP and Commercialisation, at the University of Glasgow, said: “The Founders Fund for Creatives was launched by the University, The Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Conservatoire to provide support to the development of early-stage projects in the arts and humanities recognising that there is a wealth of innovation in this area that have the potential to deliver sustainable social, community, policy as well as economic impact but need support to release this potential. 

“The projects funded have a range of potential impacts and, if validated, could be realised via the creation of social enterprises, spin-out ventures or by licensing the intellectual assets for existing organisations to deliver.   

“We congratulate all those projects that were successful, and we look forward to seeing the teams develop their ideas over the coming months.” 

Colin Kirkpatrick, Head of Research Support Services at The Glasgow School of Art, said: “The Glasgow School of Art is pleased to be collaborating with colleagues from the University of Glasgow and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on this new  programme (Founders Fund for Creatives) aimed at supporting entrepreneurship in the Creative Arts.  

“By encouraging more researchers to consider the commercial potential and impact of their research, the programme provides a platform for the Arts and Humanities to make a unique contribution to Scotland’s Entrepreneurial Campus Strategy.  

“We are delighted that two researchers from GSA have been awarded funding to develop their ideas and will now benefit from taking part in a cohort training programme over the next 6 months, alongside participants from University of Glasgow and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.” 

Deborah Keogh, Knowledge Exchange Manager and Innovation Hub Project Lead at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “We are so incredibly grateful to our colleagues at the University of Glasgow for both recognising this rich and untapped area for targeted development support and for opening this up to us as local Small Specialist Institution partners in such a collaborative and open way. 

“This is such a transformative opportunity for those whose projects have been selected for support and it fills a unique gap in the current system. 

“The Founders Fund for Creatives encourages artists and researchers to think entrepreneurially and develop projects with tangible real-world impacts. The programme helps them explore new ways of taking their art out into the world and using it to make a difference by empowering and enriching people, culture and communities.”  

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