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Into the metaverse: multi-million-pound investment into UK screen and performance industries

UK researchers are being called on to develop new technologies to reimagine screen and performance and help to ensure the future prosperity of the UK creative industries

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has announced a £75.6 million investment over six years (subject to business case approvals) to support CoSTAR, a new creative facility for the UK’s renowned screen and performance sectors.

CoSTAR (Convergent Screen Technologies and Performance in Realtime) will consist of a central hub and experimental studio fitted with real-time digital technologies and will be enhanced by a network of regional labs across the UK and supported by a data, insight, and foresight lab.

According to UKRI, AHRC is calling on researchers, in collaboration with creative industries partners, to apply to host the new state-of-the-art facility, with funding opportunities open for applications from 11 October 2022 until 2 February 2023.

“We urgently need new facilities, technologies and skills to keep pace with a rapidly evolving creative landscape and to maintain the UK’s position in the global digital and creative economies,” said Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC executive chair. “CoSTAR will respond to this need by bringing together leading figures in research and industry as well as audiences to develop and converge technologies in the creative industries. In doing this, we will reimagine how we interact with entertainment, and support entirely new experiences that will enrich our economy and our culture.”

CoSTAR is set to support technological research to “transform how we consume media in the future and create new products, experiences, and markets”, and will build new research infrastructure to investigate the development and application of technology which will enable convergence of the gaming, screen, and live performance sectors. This convergence is seen as the foundation of the metaverse concept “which will likely mark the next phase of the digital and creative economies”. the project is expected to support the creation of over 500 new jobs as well as boosting local and national economies.

More information about AHRC and the future of the UK creative industries including the CoSTAR fund can be found on the AHRC website.