Industry leaders’ challenge to get creative with data

Four of Edinburgh’s leading cultural organisations are taking part in a £7.6 million initiative that could transform the city’s creative industries through innovative use of data.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, The List, Edinburgh City of Literature Trust, and New Media Scotland have set Challenge Projects to drive innovation in the cultural sector and are seeking to work with creative entrepreneurs and companies to realise them.

Challenge Projects are part of Creative Informatics, a research and development programme led by the University of Edinburgh and delivered in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University, Code Base and Creative Edinburgh. Creative Informatics is also part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal and is supported by the Scottish Funding Council.

The projects will use data, contained in information sets such as box office figures, event listings and literary collections, to create ground-breaking products and improve audience experiences.

Professor Chris Speed, Director of Creative Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Edinburgh has a vibrant design and advertising sector, the largest concentration of major festivals in the world, and a thriving tech sector. It is the perfect place to explore the potential of technology to stimulate new methods of cultural production.

“Creative Informatics Challenge Projects offer a unique opportunity for cultural and creative organisations to bring forward challenges they are facing that could be solved through the development of new products or services that utilise data and new technologies.

The Fringe Society, custodian of the largest arts festival in the world, wants to use audience insight data to help Edinburgh Festival Fringe attendees find new ways to navigate the Fringe programme.

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said:
“The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society are delighted to be involved in the first Creative Informatics Challenge Projects, collaborating with the world class talent of Edinburgh’s digital sector to drive innovation in ticketing and audience experience. This is an excellent opportunity to understand how data and technology can assist our audiences in exploring the huge diversity of work present in the Fringe Programme.”

The List, the UK’s leading live events data business, hopes to use data science and artificial intelligence to automate the resizing of large collections of images so they look good across a wide range of websites, apps and print publications.

Edinburgh City of Literature Trust is seeking to commission visitor experiences as part of an expansion to the Literary Quarter on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, using technology to present literary content in creative and playful ways.

New Media Scotland aims to develop a data-driven guest journey for pop-up multi-sensory cinematic experiences. This will form part of a toolkit that will enable venue managers, exhibitors and producers to present bespoke forms of novel, immersive film engagement.

Funding of up to £20,000 is available to individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises working in and around Edinburgh to respond to the challenges posed. Some £600,000 is available to fund up to 30 Challenge Projects over the next four years.


Applications open on 8 July and will close on 12 August. For more information about Creative Informatics Challenge Projects or the Creative Informatics programme please contact or visit

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