EPSRC and AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Media and Arts Technology

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Sch of Electronic Eng & Computer Science

Abstract

The CDT in Media and Arts Technology will train PhD students to become skilled researchers and practitioners at the intersection of science, technology, digital media and the arts. The proposed CDT builds on the outstanding success of Queen Mary's current Media and Arts Technology (MAT) programme, introducing new training elements in Design, Innovation and Materials and expanded industrial and international partnerships. It addresses all 3 of EPSRCS's Digital Economy themes, particularly Digitally Connected Citizens and many ICT themes, especially Next Generation Interaction Technologies, Data to Knowledge and ICT for Manufacturing; Digital Healthcare.

MAT is firmly grounded in Britain's Digital Economy (DE), which contributes the biggest share of GDP in any g20 nation and is projected to increase by a third by 2016. The Creative Digital sector in East London, on Queen Mary's doorstep and known as Tech City, is the fastest growing DE cluster in the UK, outstripping Greater London and the UK for jobs growth since 2001. It now accounts for 48,500 jobs in over 3200 companies, ranging from micro-business and SMEs to global players like Ustwo and Last.fm, and is attracting inward investment from international players such as IBM, Facebook, and Google.
The Creative Digital sector demands workers with a high degree of technical skill coupled with creative skills, able to work in multi-disciplinary teams: exactly the type of graduate MAT will produce.

The MAT CDT has an established network of over 40 external partners including: large companies (BBC, IBM, Orange, Sony and Procter & Gamble) health organisations (Royal Hospital of Neurodisability) and Tech City SMEs (Cinimod, Lean Mean Fighting Machine, Ustwo, Playgen, United Visual Artists, Hide&Seek, Troika), cultural institutions (Barbican, Science Museum and V&A), and governmental bodies (UKTI, TCIO, DSTL and London & Partners). Many partners host students' Advanced Placement Project, provide data sets and technical resources, supervision and mentoring, and exposure to a wide range of markets and audiences. The CDT acts as a focus bringing together otherwise disparate external bodies who discover shared interests and values.

Because DE is a key strategic area for QML, the university invests heavily in the area. The existing MAT CDT catalysed the formation of qMedia, a cross-Faculty Research Centre based in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, and continues to be at its core. qMedia includes the world leading Centre for Digital Music, the newly formed Cognitive Science Group, the Multimedia and Vision Group, and members of the Networks, Vision and Antennas Groups. In EECS alone, qMedia has >40 academics, 41 RAs, 102 PhD students and a portfolio of grants with a current value of over £21 million.

The CDT led to a major expansion in Digital Media research and teaching at Queen Mary. It inspired the creation of both a MSc in Media and Arts Technology and a BSc(Eng) in Multimedia and Arts Technology. The University invested around £3M in 200m2 of facilities for the MAT CDT, including Media and Arts Technology Studios, CDT hub (work/meeting space), 'maker' workshops, and a multimedia IT suite for audio/video editing.

In conclusion, the existing CDT and its proposed renewal brings value nationally, locally and to the university. It is also a major international beacon of excellence that has led to several international partnerships, particularly in USA and China.

Planned Impact

UK Economic Performance and Competitiveness: The MAT programme has a large number of commercial partners (see beneficiaries) and is close to the Creative Digital sector in East London, the "fastest growing Digital Economy cluster in the UK" (Dean et. al. 2012); "The presence of the MAT DTC on their doorstep is a huge benefit to start-up companies who might not otherwise engage with university research." [UKTI]. The specific, innovative combination of technical and creative skills developed by the MAT programme addresses a key skills gap and barrier to growth for companies in the sector (Nathan et. al. 2012). [BBC, FXP, LMFM,3WAY].

Advanced Placement Projects (APP's) contribute to research, development and commercialisation [BBC,BT,BTV,CMOD,FXP,H&S,LMFM,P&G]. MAT students are sometimes retained as consultants (e.g. Cinimod and UVA) and contribute to products and IP. An APP with LMFM led to the 'Ice-Breaker T-shirt', attracted ImpactQM KTP funding and subsequent Innovation Fund support to commercialise a haptic interaction kit. An APP with Wildpalm produced a patented 3D augmented reality display. MAT is also beginning to generate new start-ups. My Spark Live Ltd (http://sparklive.net) developed using MAT expertise and resources and launched through the QML Entrepreneurs scheme (80 pre-orders totalling £50k). Partners also cite the value of their relationship with MAT in pitching for business [LMFM, CMOD] and for building networks with other companies and organisations in the sector [BTV, H&S, UKTI].

Public Services and Policy:

MAT has excellent connections to No. 10 and government agencies associated with Techcity (UKTI, TCIO, London and Partners) through our strategic partnership with QML's Mile End Group (MEG). We have jointly hosted four Tech Talks that have featured the PM's Ambassador to Tech City, 2 past Directors of GCHQ, 3 Science Ministers (including Willetts) at the Science Museum, and the founder of Digital Shoreditch (mileendgroup.com/past-vents/). We are founding partners in Digital Shoreditch. Sandler (PI) is on the No. 10 Techcity breakfast list, a key government forum for consultation on Techcity.

UKTI use the MAT programme to showcase UK research capacity and we have hosted over 60 international trade delegations. This assists UKTI in their mission to attract inward investment to the UK. MAT was also commissioned by TCIO to provide an installation for Hackney House during the Olympics (the only University commissioned by UKTI). This was seen by 50,000 visitors, politicians and CEO's "providing an important centre piece for the Tech City show piece" (andrew.sissons@hackney.gov.uk).

The MAT programme attracts a diverse student profile particularly outstanding female researchers. This has contributed to the emergence of the G.Hack collective of female researchers (ghack.eecs.qmul.ac.uk/). MAT also fosters and hosts important grass roots movements such as the London branch of Dorkbot, an influential network of creative technologists (dorkbot.org/). This gives students the opportunity to present their work and network with an important international community. The impact of this is extended through MAT's partnerships with high profile public venues (see beneficiaries) and through our public engagement activities with cs4fn and Teentech.

Quality of life, Health and Creative Output:

Direct impact on health and quality of life flow from the student's PhD research. Two are focussed on augmentative and assistive technologies for severely disabled children with Threeways specialist school "instrumental in [...] developing a collective vision for the use of enabling technology in school" [3ways]. A collaboration with 'goodgym' (blog.goodgym.org/ see CfS Box 4) and Bethnal Green Council is creating technology to promote jogging combined with running errands for the elderly. Roll-out to 8 new branches is planned and an application to the QM innovate fund is in progress.

Publications


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