What is StoryFutures?
StoryFutures will work with SMEs in our region to create innovative and risky projects that address the need to develop compelling content and story experiences in next generation technologies, focusing particularly on Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality. StoryFutures focuses on the future of story form, business models, data processes and audience experience.
We are an Research & Development (R&D) partnership between higher education and creative industries led by Royal Holloway, University of London. We are funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of an unprecedented investment in creative industries R&D via the Creative Industries Clusters programme.
Who is involved in the StoryFutures partnership?
StoryFutures is led by Royal Holloway, Brunel, the NFTS and University of Creative Arts. Our partnership spans film, TV, gaming, VFX and immersive as well as our Local Economic Partnerships: EM3, TVBucks and TVBerks.
Where is the StoryFutures Cluster based?
StoryFutures will focus its activities in the ‘Gateway Cluster’, to London’s immediate west and as far as Reading. Its primary base is at Royal Holloway’s Egham campus, with further touch points at our central London campus in Bedford Square, Brunel University in Uxbridge, the National Film & Television School at Beaconsfield and University of the Creative Arts in Farnborough. Our focus is on the area outlined in grey in the map below: we are looking to link central London companies and talent with those in the region highlighted by the three ‘travel to work areas’ outlined in red (High Wycombe & Aylesbury; Slough & Heathrow; Guildford & Aldershot).
How do I get involved?
We are looking to work with as many companies and organisations in our region as possible. There are several routes for getting involved:
- StoryLab Challenge Partners: Solving creative challenges by using our unique StoryFutures innovation infrastructure to bring the cutting edge ideas / technologies / know-how from SMEs in the region to the task. Challenge Partners provide co-funding for pilots and prototypes in the form of cash, intellectual property, platform, staff time and resource. Our Challenge Partners include Heathrow (located based experiences), The National Gallery, BBC Studios, the BFI and Sky VR. Want to set a challenge? Read more here and get in touch
- StoryLab SME Participants: A chance to respond to competition challenges and win funding to develop related products, content and technologies, build collaboration networks, receive business support and access cutting edge audience insight and data. Interested in taking part? Read on below!
- Scale up support: We offer business development support, including co-writing funding and finance applications for your businesses, for cluster SMEs who are addressing story form innovation in next generation technologies. Find our more here
- Audience Insight: We offer audience testing of your prototypes, pilots and fully-fledged projects to understand how they respond to multi-sensory attention cues, audience behaviours and access to data in long-term trends in consumer habits in immersive technologies. See more here.
- SME, Micro & Start up Business Space: We’re offering subsidised office space and access to production facilities at Royal Holloway (Egham) and a network of spaces across the cluster with our partners, including at Spelthorne Council in Staines, and our University partners. More detail coming soon – but get in touch to register your interest.
- Production facilities: From early 2019, we’re offering a 360° immersive listening studio, facial and motion capture space, audience insight labs, play test space and more.
How do I get involved in StoryLab Challenges as an SME?
Challenge partners set a brief that is scoped with the aid of StoryFutures. In late 2018/early 2019 we’ll be launching two challenges with the National Gallery and with Heathrow with more to follow. After a selection process we then invite SMEs to participate in a two-day innovation event: StoryLab. This is where selected SMEs, academics, and professional industry creatives meet to stage and address the challenge. StoryLab culminates in a pitch process, the winning idea will be taken forward to prototype.
What are the budgets for the pilot and prototype projects you’ll commission?
Budgets will vary according to the scope of the challenge. At present they range anywhere between £10,000 and £500,000 subject to final agreements with Challenge Partners.
Does StoryFutures pay for SMEs time to participate in these StoryLab Innovation events?
As a general rule we do not. However, no company should be excluded on the grounds of costs and we will make bursaries available to facilitate participation. In some instances, where the scope of the challenge necessitates, we may agree to pay all participating SMEs for their time at a set rate.
What is the benefit for participating in StoryLab innovation events?
You have a chance to win a commission, in addition to many other benefits, including access to:
- World-leading creative and commercial challenge partners
- Our award-winning creative experts in story form, from BAFTA winning directors, to BBC audio award-winning podcasters to costa prize-winning novelists.
- Our world-leading audience insight team and facility
- Access to our subsidised production facilities
- Invitation only StoryFutures partner events, including international trade missions
- Our business development and innovation team
- R&D collaborations with StoryFutures and our partners.
What’s the catch?
This is funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, so as always there is some accounting to be done. We’ll be asking participants to give us some basic details about their company profile, undertaking some tracking work about your company’s growth and journey and asking you to stay in touch with us. Our friendly StoryFutures Network Co-Ordinator will make this as painless and human as possible!
We want the products, experiences and services we create with you to be innovative and successful. To promote this, we are not asking for a profit or IP share. We do ask that if your prototype is successful that StoryFutures has a capped earn out of its initial investment. Where we work with SMEs on a fully commercialised project emerging from the prototype/pilot, our aims will remain the same: to see you grow. We will negotiate and agree terms that place your growth at the heart of our success.
What about IP?
As a general rule, SMEs participating in StoryLab productions will own the IP they create. StoryFutures is not looking to assert IP ownership in prototype and pilot projects. Some key points about IP:
All participating companies will retain the foreground IP they bring in to the StoryLab.
All new IP generated in the StoryLab that is not commissioned for the winning prototype and pilot will be subject to an ‘IP Air Lock’ agreement as part of our T&Cs. You can read more about IP Airlocks here. We’ll provide further information on our T&Cs as our first briefs go live.
What are the timescales?
We will run 3 major challenges per year. We will place open calls and/or send invitations for SMEs within the cluster with challenge criteria, eligibility and brief approximately 4-8 weeks prior to a StoryLab innovation event. Depending on the nature of the challenge, StoryLab events will include time for live pitches by participating SMEs or we will give a small period of development time for SMEs to work up their pitches prior to an online submission.
What happens to StoryFutures pilots and prototypes?
We will develop them with the winning SME for delivery to our challenge partner, testing these with audiences and agreed KPIs set for each project . We then agree routes to further funding, finance and opportunity – supporting the SME to access these opportunities. Pilots and prototypes will also be demonstrated at regional, national and international showcases.