BBC/AHRC Knowledge Exchange Programme

Last night was the BBC/AHRC Knowledge Exhange Programme panel discussion on collaborative learning (British Broadcasting Corporation and Arts and Humanities Research Council, Mark asked on Twitter what the AHRC was, turns out there are at least 11 AHRCs and 79 BBCs).

Andrew Dubber has a pretty good write up of proceedings, there should be a podcast about at some point also.

There was a pretty good University turn out and a few companies along also to see what the BBC were up to and how that might represent future collaborative opportunities. I’m not sure there was a whole lot of encouragement outside the fairly academic sociology / ethnography work that seemed to be the bulk of projects undertaken. It didn’t sound like this was the start of a lanscape shift in terms of commissioning or technology R&D collaborations. But then the BBC is a pretty big beast and change takes time.

I did have a good chat with the AHRC folks on evaluation and how you measure the longer term outcomes and impact of Knowledge Exchange programmes.  This is a tricky topic since the impacts of knowledge exchange tend to become apparent long after the event, and can rarely be attributed to a single cause. What we tend to end up using are approximations and indicators of success (by ‘we’ I refer to my ‘day job’ with Knowledge West where we’re currently designing and implementing an evaluation of the Knowledge Exchange activities and their wider impact). This is also something that hopefully the newly formed Institute of Knowledge Transfer will champion (Disclosure: I am a member of the IKT and currently standing for election to the Board).

The Creative Economy Programme, s’wot that then?

(I’ve just joined the Institute of Knowledge Transfer team of bloggers, this is a repost of my inaugural submission.)

After a long consultation, the Government published their strategy paper ‘Creative Britain – New Talents for the New Economy‘ on Friday, 22 Feb. The commitments take their inspiration from the Work Foundation’s 2007 publication ‘Staying Ahead‘.

As with many strategy documents, unpicking the actual, deliverable actions, is kind of tricky. Please feel free to add in the comments where I’ve missed something, or in particular where this joins up with (or cuts across) existing activities/plans/programmes/etc.

As outlined in the Foreword, the approach is two pronged; developing creative talents at school, and structured pathways into creative careers. And there’s at least £70.5m in backing (though of course there’s no single break down on where that number is spent and over what time frame).

More interestingly from a KT perspective, when it gets down to the Creative Economy, there’s £10m from the Technology Strategy Board for their Collaborative Research competition that recently opened. This £10m, together with £3m from NESTA are the two most frequently mentioned investments; I lost count how many times they were referenced. There’s also the long awaited Knowledge Transfer Network for the Creative Industries* due in ‘early 2008’.

One of the big discussions during CEP consultations (which I contributed to on the Technology panel) was around financial barriers to accessing innovative and cutting edge technology. This seems to have been partially answered with the £10m fund being split between three initiatives, two of them targeted at encouraging innovation within small creative industry companies. The feasibility study fund will provide grants of up to £15,000 (with a matching £5k from industry, pdf overview) and, the fast track programme up to £50,000 for small collaborative projects. Application to the third scheme that follows the ‘normal’ Collaborative Funding Competition rules is open to all UK based creative industry companies.

It will be interesting to hear from IKT members how they find the new rolling application process for these smaller TSB funds.

There’s quite a good (if well worn) description of the challenges in raising finance for innovation in the creative industries and the reluctance of the finance markets to engage with the digital industries in particular. In Bristol we’re holding some events to try and educate our creative entrepreneurial community to the economic models of the digital world (yes, there are some that are working; turns out even ‘free‘ can be profitable).

Unfortunately we have to wait until later this year for the Enterprise White Paper to find out specifically what the Government proposes to do.

The Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol, Eastside Arts Academy and Skillset Screen & Media Academy Network look to be fairly major planks in the ambition to get academia, students and industry working together. (Disclosure: In my role with Knowledge West I wrote the market assessment and HEI business case for the Pervasive Media Studio) The other five projects that get a mention are an animation ‘finishing school’ (also in Bristol), a Couture Academy, a National Skills Academy in Thurrock, a National Centre of Excellence for Computer Games in the North West and a UK Design Skills Alliance. Where these have industry backing (HP Labs, EMI and Aardman animation are variously mentioned) that might make a viable TSB large project consortium.

I’ve not had much direct contact with Apprenticeships, I’d be interested to hear thoughts on how/if they can facilitate knowledge transfer similar to Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. There’s a throw-away line that the number of KTPs is due to double, while becoming more flexible and responsive.

Again, any comments from KTP Advisers that getting a KTP with creative industry partners is getting easier (or how to go about positioning them)?

I am intrigued by the announcement of a ‘World Creative Business Conference’ in Spring 2009. Anyone have any idea what that is?

So there you have it, some good news, some business as usual, some details to be announced. As ever, the devil’s in the detail but the sentiment is encouraging.

*(advertising, architecture, art & antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, interactive leisure software, music, the performing arts, publishing, software & computer services, television, and radio).