Great to see such a strong turnout this week for the UK launch at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium of another well-funded competition in support of the London Government’s industrial strategy with regard to creative industries.

The purpose of the launch was to get things moving for the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s new Demonstrator competition. Its theme is: Audience of the Future.

There’s a strategic link here to the bid already submitted by the three Cardiff universities to develop the creative clusters which energise and underpin the Cardiff region’s creative industries, but with one very big difference. Bids to the Audience of the Future (AOF) Demonstrator must be led not by universities but by business. Universities and bodies like Creative Cardiff can play a part, but not the lead role.

What’s on offer? Well, a total of roughly £16million shared among the winners, to be spent on delivering a ‘challenge’ which is designed to open up new markets among new audiences using in new ways immersive technologies, such as virtual reality, augmented reality or any of their cousins. Among the specific ideas floating around the St Davids Room of the Stadium were things like new audiences for motorsport, global campaigns, such as the work of David Attenborough, and (of course) games, games, games. 

Those behind the fund think that it might divide among four main categories of work: performance; moving image; speech entertainment; and visitor experience. Successful bids will need to show that they are advancing the state of the art in immersive media, not just building bigger something that already exists.

The deadlines and procedures are a bit complex if you’ve never encountered them before, but the key milepost is that final bids have to land by midday on August 1. Work programmes run through to 2021. So, still time to fit it in a bid before the big summer holiday exodus.

It's not hard to think of AOF examples relevant to Cardiff and, judging by the side-conversations in the room, there will be plenty of competition for these awards.

Creative Cardiff, which has its own immersive technologies research network at Cardiff University and meet-up (VRSW), is happy to advise, inform and help broker potential partnerships - just drop us an email. If you want to go straight to the virtual horse’s mouth, however, take a look at the Immerse UK website. Horse’s mouth? Talking animals – what a great idea! Beyond Disney. Beyond Mr Ed. Beyond Isle of Dogs...woof, woof.