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. 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.
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.
“Boom and our project partners, Rondo Media, are passionate about our responsibilities to keep building on the strength and excellence of the Welsh indigenous production sector, and are fully invested in working at grassroots level to improve socio-economic representation both in front of, and behind the camera by breaking down the barriers to engagement for people from all communities and backgrounds.
“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.”
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, and Doctor Who.
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, 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.
“The media.cymru programme focuses on making the Cardiff Capital Region a global hub for media innovation. It will give SMEs and start-ups working in this exciting area opportunities to collaborate and innovate, building on an integral part of the economy. We aim to support the development of a world-class media sector in Wales that inspires the world.”
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.
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.
“So, I’m excited to see the results of the innovation and investment programmes media.cymru has planned with the Strength in Places funding award as we plot a sustainable and inclusive social and economic recovery from COVID-19.”
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.
“The new deal will help in bringing the creative sector even closer together, driving economic and cultural progress in areas such as research and innovation and new formats. The BBC is proud to be a partner in this venture and we look forward to working with the consortium in the coming months and years to make this development a success.”
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.
“Whilst the creative industries in Wales are going from strength to strength, this funding is essential to give creative businesses the help to future proof themselves with the latest production techniques. It will also help them carve out the valuable time to research and develop the content and delivery platforms of the future.
“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.