Falmouth University receives £7m research funding award
16 January 2024
Falmouth University has received £7m Expanding Excellence in England (E3) Research England funding to support the development of the institution's Centre for Blended Realities.
The £7m Expanding Excellence in England (E3) Research England fund will support the development of Falmouth’s new Centre for Blended Realities, where innovation in the arts is combined with cutting-edge computer science, developing immersive and interactive environments to generate new knowledge and creative endeavours.
Just as Computer-Generated Images (CGI) redefined the film industry, the ability to blend computer technology with real-world activity will allow for the creation of novel forms of work, potentially leading to entirely new art forms that blend the real with the virtual. In addition, these developments are likely to lead to new ways to consume media that move away from flat screens towards multi-modal/multi-sensory immersive interfaces.
The funding will enhance Falmouth’s research and innovation capacity in this space through new appointments, postdoctoral research opportunities and the support of new postgraduate projects. In addition, the funding will enhance career progression opportunities for Falmouth’s creative community of academics.
The funding from UKRI comes following Falmouth’s exceptional progress since REF2014. In 2022, 100% of Falmouth University’s research impact case studies and 63.4% of its research outputs were rated as being world-leading or internationally excellent (4* and 3*) in the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF2021), just ten years after Falmouth’s official recognition as a university.
The new Centre for Blended Realities builds on two decades of immersive practice and digital expertise here in Falmouth.
The Centre for Blended Realities’ work will consist of three strands: Reality Forge, Reality Hub, and Reality Lab. The focus of Reality Forge is pedagogic, developing executive training alongside new postgraduate and undergraduate programmes. Reality Hub, the centre’s knowledge exchange and outreach provision will be where Cornwall’s business community can work with Falmouth’s resources and expertise to enhance their digital product offering and trial what might work for them in order to remain competitive. Finally, Reality Lab is where creative connections and experimentation can take place and allow creative practitioners to pioneer new concepts and digital artefacts, before developing, testing and sharing their work.
Professor Lee Miller, lead of the Centre for Blended Realities said: “This is an exciting development, which will have a long lasting and far-reaching impact. The new Centre for Blended Realities builds on two decades of immersive practice and digital expertise here in Falmouth, where we’ve focused on multiple experimental and innovative ways of engaging and developing new audiences. For example, Falmouth University has been at the forefront of immersive ways to capture and archive performance practice through the CRESCA-funded GWITHA project, where we’re incorporating research around machine learning and AI to inform our approach.
We’re very proud that Falmouth is recognised as being at the forefront in this emerging field, where creativity meets technology.
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of Falmouth’s journey to becoming a real centre of excellence in creative technology and at the forefront of narratives around blended realities. Our Games Academy is already one of the Top 20 in the world and building on the GWITHA project, we’ve been able to build one of only four volumetric capturing studios in the UK. Along with an extremely engaged steering group made up of industry players from Screen Cornwall to the BFI, we’re excited to announce this new chapter in Falmouth University’s history…”
Professor Emma Hunt, Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Falmouth University added: “This level of award from UKRI is a vote of confidence in Falmouth's future as a competitive research institution. Following our success with the CRESCA funding in 2023, this latest investment by UKRI builds on Falmouth’s already distinctive blend of expertise in creative technology, which has a clear benefit for society at a local and national level.
“We’re very proud that Falmouth is recognised as being at the forefront in this emerging field, where creativity meets technology. As an anchor institution in Cornwall, a county with a rich cultural heritage that’s also home to an exciting hub of digital businesses, we’re delighted that this new funding will grow the region’s reputation as a global leader in immersive technology and to help develop new opportunities.”