A Cardiff University-led consortium has won a £50m bid to develop a world-leading cluster for media innovation in the Cardiff Capital Region.
Bringing together 24 organisations from across the Cardiff Capital Region, media.cymru includes partners working in education, broadcasting, technology, media production and local leadership to drive inclusive, sustainable economic growth and an additional £236m in Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2026.
£22m funding is provided through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Strength in Places fund and match-funded by £3m from Cardiff Capital Region and £2m from Welsh Government through Creative Wales.
Since 2006, the Region has developed one of the strongest media sector growth rates in the UK, attracting one in eight of all new UK jobs in film/TV, producing global successes on film and TV shows including Sex Education, His Dark Materials, Doctor Who and Dream Horse.
Responding to the advances made in remote and virtual production during the COVID-19 pandemic, media.cymru will invest in the Region’s digital infrastructure, focusing on emerging technologies, increasing small businesses’ capacity for innovation and addressing skills needs.
Cardiff University has already helped to establish a thriving base for Research and Development (R&D) through its work leading Clwstwr, an initiative which brings academic research and industry together to drive innovation in the creative sector in South Wales. This latest five-year programme, due to start in 2022, will provide further R&D support to businesses so they can find commercial opportunities with new products, services and experiences.
Professor Justin Lewis, media.cymru and Clwstwr Director from Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture, said: "After the devastating impact of COVID-19, the need for digital innovation in the creative sector has never been more critical. So, we are delighted to have received this government funding provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund.
"It builds on the growing success of the media sector in Wales and gives us the opportunity to build on the aims of the Clwstwr programme, which has already helped many businesses and freelancers in the area to grow and develop..."
A series of industry-led challenge areas to be investigated, including sustainability, bilingual production, diversity and inclusion, tourism and technology will position the Region’s media sector as a testbed for new content, approaches and formats.
Nia Thomas, Managing Director of Boom Cymru and Consortium member of media.cymru, said: "I am thrilled to hear media.cymru has received this funding as it will allow us to build on the strong foundations laid by those working in the creative industries in Wales, and lead us confidently to the next stage of growth. With it, we can invest in the future of media production and innovation and guarantee sustainable economic growth for the benefit of society, culture and the workforce in the Cardiff Capital Region and Wales as a whole..."
"It is critical that work-based opportunities are offered at all levels to bold, new, inspirational voices so that we create innovative, representative and world-class content for global consumption, appreciation and acclaim."
Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, welcomed the announcement: "Our City Campus, at the heart of the Cardiff Capital Region, has been the backdrop to many of the iconic productions created here in Wales, from Sherlock to His Dark Materials.
"Over that time, it’s been fascinating to see the sector go from strength to strength. Much of that is due to the collaborative work of creative professionals and practitioners in industry, academia and local leadership. And never more so than over the course of the pandemic..."
Rhuanedd Richards, Director of Content and Services BBC Wales, said: "Today’s announcement is good news for audiences in Wales and the Welsh economy. This is an opportunity to push the boundaries of innovation in some of the fastest growing economic sectors anywhere in the UK..."
Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, added: "We are very pleased that UKRI has awarded substantial funding to the media.cymru Strength in Places consortium..."
"Welsh Government has worked to produce a package of support from our skills, regional and infrastructure departments, co-ordinated by Creative Wales, to the value of £2m. Work undertaken will be sustainable, in line with our environmental commitments and support a diverse and inclusive workforce."
The media.cymru Consortium members are: Alacrity Foundation, BBC, Boom Cymru, Cardiff Capital Region, Cardiff Council, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff Productions, Cardiff University, Channel 4, Dragon DI, Ffilm Cymru Wales, Gorilla TV, Great Point Media, Nimble Dragon, Object Matrix, Rescape Innovation, Rondo Media, S4C, Shwsh, Town Square Spaces, University of South Wales, Unquiet Media, Wales Interactive and Welsh Government.