Update from the region

Hello Digital and the Hello World conference proved successful, drawing in excess of 5,000 visitors and attracting high quality speakers including Tom Loosemore (Channel 4/4iP), Heather Champ (Flickr), Michael Mikarewicz (Pixar) and Joy Armitage (Cadbury’s). Full evaluation of Birmingham’s first digital festival is now underway and summary findings will be included in future reports. Other festivals taking place in the region in SIS sector this quarter included Plus Festival, Flip Animation Festival, Black International Film Festival, Serious Virtual Worlds and Deaffest.

4iP – the £10m fund for the West Midlands operated as partnership between Channel 4, Advantage WM and Screen WM, was officially launched during the festival and submissions for the fund can now be made online at www.4ip.org.uk . In addition to the main fund itself, Screen WM secured a £1.3m package of support from Advantage WM, to include development funds, networking events, pitch and product development support and more. Details of specific programme of activities to be announced shortly – please register for updates or subscribe to RSS feeds at www.screenwm.co.uk

Arts Council WM launched their Digital Content Development fund (DCD) at a special event in partnership with Screen WM, C:Cubed, bringing together regularly-funded arts organisations with the digital/tv/film/games sector. Videos of all C:Cubed sessions, including full details of the Arts Council’s DCD fund, can now be watched online on the C:Cubed website.

Advantage Proof of Concept Fund (APOC) – £5.8m fund from Advantage WM to be managed by Warwick Science Park with individual grants of up to £30k for innovation/development funding in any sector, but with specific focus on identified AWM priorities areas, including digital media. Details of how the fund will operate now online. Fund will be strategically linked to 4iP, with regular communication between 4iP and APOC teams.

Digital Media Lab at Warwick Science Park was officially opened by Gordon Brown, with Professor Lucy Hooberman joining as Director of Digital Innovation from BBCs Future Media & Technology Division. The Digital Lab will focus on key areas of research, education and innovation. Businesses of all sizes wishing to engage in hi-tech R&D are encouraged to contact the lab to discover the potential for cost-effective research.

WM Screen Sector support
is more joined-up than ever before with a number of partnership agreements between all the major support agencies, providing a national model for best practice recognized by BERR and DCMS. Agency agreements include:

  • Screen WM acting as delivery mechanism for screen elements of Advantage WM’s SIS Cluster Plan via a formalized contract, agreed October 2008
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Screen WM and Business Link to provide specialist sector support for screen industries. Service Level Agreement (SLA) now being discussed between these two parties.
  • Partnership agreements between Screen WM and Arts Council West Midlands, (ACEWM) and UKTI
  • Higher Education (HE) and Skills working groups established by Screen WM with partners including Learning & Skills Council (LSC), Skillset, Business Link, Advantage WM, Birmingham City University (BCU), Coventry University (incl. Institute for Creative Enterprise and Serious Games Institute), etc.

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