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StoryFutures is a £6.4m project funded by AHRC’s ‘Creative Industries Clusters Programme’, unlocks university research for creative industries. StoryFutures give small and medium businesses (SMEs) access to cutting-edge research in narrative, technology, business and audience insight; driving innovative storytelling, exploiting new technologies in Virtual, Augmented, Mixed Reality and Artificial Intelligence. It is a highly interdisciplinary project spanning media arts, electronic engineering, computer science, history, geography, psychology, management and drama. 

StoryFutures core objective tackles the challenge of creating compelling content for next-generation technologies. Since its launch in October 2018, StoryFutures has proved pioneering in two areas: 

  1. Research-fuelled economic growth: StoryFutures has catalysed 40 new research and development (R&D) industry and academic collaborations, created 16 new products, unlocked a further £2.1m investment for creative industries’ R&D, built a network of over 100 companies, stimulated growth or support of 75 jobs and a 3.2% - 18.6% increase in SME turnover, and introduced over 20,000 audiences to new experiences. 
  2. Open Innovation: StoryLab is a unique open innovation model that commissions and creates R&D prototypes in immersive storytelling by bringing together SMEs, academics and the world’s most recognisable names, including The National GalleryHeathrowDiscovery and Nesta. StoryLab is thus a tripartite model for innovation: it develops and co-funds creative challenge briefs with large organisations for academics and SMEs to solve in a two-day open innovation workshop, concluding with a final prototype commission for one SME-academic collaborative team. StoryFutures then supports the prototype development sprint with research in storytelling, business modelling, value exploitation and audience insight. 

Storyfutures Academy (funded by further £5.5 m) is the only National Centre of Excellence in Immersive Storytelling, offering creative training and financing creative development through Experimental Labs and Writers Room, and fostering and financing co-productions. 



StoryTrails is a unique immersive storytelling experience. Untold stories from the past are brought to life through the magic of the 3D internet using augmented and virtual reality to reanimate public spaces in towns and cities across the UK. Audiences will time-travel via the wonder of new technologies to experience untold local histories where they happened.

StoryTrails is one of 10 projects commissioned for UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a ground-breaking UK-wide celebration of creativity in 2022 that will bring people together and reach millions through free, large-scale immersive installations and globally accessible digital experiences in the UK’s most ambitious showcase of creative collaboration.

The StoryTrails project will visit 15 UK towns and cities with free two day residencies in each location with local libraries at its heart. Starting in July 2022, the tour will visit Omagh, Dundee, Dumfries, Blackpool, Bradford, Sheffield, Lincoln, Wolverhampton, Swansea, Newport, Bristol, Swindon and Slough, ending in September in London (Lambeth and Lewisham).

StoryTrails is led by StoryFutures and delivered in partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI), broadcaster and film-maker, David Olusoga, Uplands Television, and leading immersive specialists ISO Design and Nexus Studios. It will use cutting edge technology from Niantic, makers of Pokemon Go, and it will be brought to life in The Reading Agency’s national network of libraries and by event- making specialists ProduceUK.

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