StoryLab is the main focus of our R&D collaboration activities. StoryLab acts as an innovation process to bring together ‘Challenge Partners’ – such as The National Gallery, Heathrow and BBC Studios – to work with SMEs within the Gateway Cluster to develop novel prototype and pilot projects that tackle current barriers in the development and take-up of next generation technologies by funding innovation in creative storytelling formats, business models, data processes and understandings of audience behaviours. The prototype and pilot projects are designed to stimulate growth and investment in the sector. With our ‘Challenge Partners’, these projects offer the opportunity for further commercial development.

StoryLab kicks off by running innovation events to broker creative SME responses to our partners’ challenges, funding a winning pitch for each challenge we run. We then support the winning SMEs in the development of these products, both creatively and through business development. We go on to test these pilot and prototype productions with audiences, utilising cutting-edge research in cognitive psychology, neuroscience and media research to fuel commercial growth and create enthralling experiences for the public. There will also be further funding, investment and other opportunities for winning projects that we will help scope and deliver, working with our business support and finance partners.

StoryLab acts as a key point of entry for SMEs to get involved in our activities – but the other themes also offer opportunities for engagement: see the diagram below.

StoryFutures R&D diagram

We ran a pilot StoryLab with the National Gallery in Jan 2019 and shortly announce our first R&D commission. We will be hosting 2 further innovation challenges in 2019, with the next due to take place in late Spring with Heathrow. More details to follow soon!

To be eligible to participate in the StoryLab event, SMEs (or their partners) must be located within our ‘Gateway Cluster’ region and be willing to make in-kind contributions to the R&D process. The cluster spans High Wycombe in the North and Guildford and Farnham in the South, reaching as far West as Reading and to the inner borders of the Slough and Heathrow Travel To Work area outlined in red on the map.