World stage for fashion and screen industries after £20.4m injection

Models on the catwalk during the Burberry Autumn/Winter
Models on the catwalk during the Burberry Autumn/Winter
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An “unprecedented” investment of more than £20m in Yorkshire’s creative growth is set to boost the region’s fashion and screen industries on an international scale.

Funding been announced to host creative media labs under the Government’s industrial strategy, with two of nine hubs to be based in the region.

Around £20.4m is to be invested in the two schemes, focusing on fashion at the University of Leeds and screen technologies at the University of York.

Some of the countries biggest names are linked to the 
projects, including the British Film Institute, Burberry, Screen Yorkshire and the British Fashion Council.

Prof Andrew Thompson, executive chairman of the Arts and Humanities Research Council which awarded the successful bids, said: “These pioneering partnerships between industry and universities are providing a huge vote of confidence for a sector that is vital to the future prosperity of the UK.”

Research for future screen industry, from film and drama to gaming technologies, is to be led by the University of York, Screen Yorkshire and the British Film Institute. This project – with sums totalling £15m from AHRC and partner investment – will look at future needs such as virtual and augmented reality, immersive and reactive storytelling.

The industry is rapidly changing, said Prof Damian Murphy from the university, who will lead the project. This is an opportunity, he added, to ensure Yorkshire is leading the way.

“It’s hugely exciting,” he said. “This is such a significant investment from Government in creative industries in the UK, and in Yorkshire in particular.

“It demonstrates the innovations and strength and quality of Yorkshire is already doing.”

The screen industry in Yorkshire, supporting 12,000 jobs and boosting tourism by £120m a year, has boomed in recent years with filming of the like of Victoria and National Treasure.

Sally Joynson, chief executive of Screen Yorkshire, said: “Technological advances are making storytelling increasingly innovative and exciting and this project allows our businesses and institutions to benefit from world class cutting edge research in this area. What this project allows us to do is really start looking at the future of this industry and how we can tell stories in five or 10 years’ time.”

At the University of Leeds, a £5.4m project is aimed at boosting innovation in the fashion industry, developing new technologies to improve design processes under the lead of Prof Stephen Russell, from the University’s School of Design. New fashion design programmes will also be created, alongside industrial apprenticeships to address a skills gap in the industry.

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