New CoSTAR funding for on-screen innovations

At the forefront of innovations in film, screen and games; the University of Edinburgh and Creative Informatics to be core partners on new CoSTAR programmes.

The University of Edinburgh and Creative Informatics have been awarded funding as core partners on two preferred bids for the UK Government’s Convergent Screen Technologies and performance in Realtime (CoSTAR) programme. The CoSTAR programme will see new state-of-the-art research and development facilities set up to drive the next generation of screen technology and on-set virtual production, with £75.6 million investment announced today.

  • The University of Edinburgh and Creative Informatics are core partners on two bids worth a total of £12.8 million.
  • A regional CoSTAR hub will establish the Network Lab with new virtual production and performance studios in Dundee and Edinburgh.
  • A specialist R&D function will support the national CoSTAR infrastructure through identifying impacts and directions of travel for the screen and performance sectors.

As a regional R&D CoSTAR hub, Abertay University and University of Edinburgh will build on existing Creative Industries Clusters programmes (InGAME & Creative Informatics) to establish a technology-and data-driven Network Lab that will – working in collaboration with Codebase, the UK’s largest technology incubator, based in Edinburgh – deliver innovation and enterprise across two centres in Dundee and Edinburgh.


The Network Lab based in the Water’s Edge studio complex in Dundee, and Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in Edinburgh will bring together video games development expertise in Dundee’s globally significant games cluster with world leading applied R&D at Abertay University and film, television and animation production in Edinburgh with the University of Edinburgh’s world leading expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence. These centres will establish a digital technology and creative industries ecosystem by driving the creation of innovative processes, pipelines, tools and workflows for the games, animation, film and TV sectors.


In addition to this, The Insight and Foresight Unit for CoSTAR, led by Goldsmiths, in partnership with BFI, University of Edinburgh and Loughborough University is a new, specialist R&D function to support the CoSTAR national infrastructure. The Insight and Foresight Unit will focus on identifying and reporting on impacts of CoSTAR and directions of travel for the screen and performance sectors. It will do so by considering improved ecological sustainability, a more diverse workforce, new workflows and ways of working, and audience engagement with creative productions realised through the CoSTAR infrastructure.


The announcement of the preferred bidders for CoSTAR is subject to full business case approval.


Full details of the UK Government’s investment in the creative industries, including CoSTAR funding, can be found here.


Professor Melissa Terras, Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage and Acting Director of Creative Informatics, University of Edinburgh said “The rapid changes we are seeing at the moment in Creative Technologies mean that we have to build on-ramps for our world leading creative industries to access, adopt and adapt them. The investment we see here across Edinburgh and Dundee will ensure that the cultural and creative communities in Scotland will remain at the forefront of innovation in the games, film, and TV space, whilst also ensuring that we can democratise these technologies: training the next generation in cutting edge approaches. It’s incredibly important to be reflecting and reporting on those rapid changes, and making best practice guidelines which can inform the sector as well as government policy, and I’m delighted that Edinburgh will be both hosting facilities, and reporting on UK industry activities. The innovative work that we have done over the past five years in delivering Creative Informatics has given us a solid foundation to be operating at this UK leadership level, and I’m excited about the opportunities ahead, here in Scotland.


Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:

“The imagination and ingenuity of British designers, producers, content creators, writers and artists are spearheading growth right across our economy. The government is backing our creatives to maximise the potential of the creative industries. This Sector Vision is about driving innovation, attracting investment and building on the clusters of creativity across the country. And from first days at school to last days of work, we will nurture the skills needed to build a larger creative workforce to harness the talent needed for continued success.

Working with the industry this vision is helping the UK creative sectors go from strength to strength – providing jobs and opportunities, creating world leading content and supporting economic growth across the country.”

Professor Gregor White, Dean of the School of Design and Informatics at Abertay University said:

“Virtual production is one of the most exciting emerging applications of media technologies in the world right now. There is enormous potential for virtual film production to be the next major tech success story for the UK. Abertay’s academic expertise in the technologies used to create the real-time media, alongside University of Edinburgh’s expertise in generative AI is second to none. Our intention will be to use our research expertise to drive innovation, and the entrepreneurial and investment experience of the broader partnership to deliver economic growth and jobs of the future for the UK creative industries sector.”

Professor Jonny Freeman, Academic Lead for Knowledge Exchange at Goldsmiths, and Principal Investigator of the IFU said:

“The UK’s Creative Industries have an incredible reputation globally and the CoSTAR infrastructure investment announced today will help to secure this going forward. To support this, the Insight and Foresight Unit has an essential role in capturing and cataloguing the impacts of the virtual production and associated creative R&D technologies provided through the CoSTAR labs.

The consortium we have assembled for the Insight and Foresight Unit is formidable. It combines Goldsmiths’ expertise in the immersive, audience and virtual production sector, BFI’s unrivalled film sector expertise and data, Edinburgh’s leadership in developing new forms of data to empower the creative industries, and Loughborough’s track record in defining creative R&D and communicating via its policy function. Added to this we have authoritative leadership in understanding carbon impacts of film and TV production from Julie’s Bicycle, international markets from Olsberg SPI, and applications of immersive from Arup Group. Across the IFU partnership, we have a genuine shared commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and all our planned activities will maintain a clear focus on this.”

UK Research and Innovation Creative Industries (UKRI) Sector Champion, Professor Christopher Smith, said:

“The creative industries are a UK success story, key to the UK’s prosperity, wellbeing and resilience. From design to screen, fashion and textiles to heritage, they are generating high-quality employment and innovation.

“UKRI’s creative industries investments, including CoSTAR, Creative Catalyst and the Creative Industry Clusters Programme, will catalyse the research and innovation that are crucial for this fast-growing and important sector.

“The creative industries are now firmly embedded in the research and development ecosystem, ensuring that the UK remains a genuine world leader in the industries of the future.”