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School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

Funding awarded to explore digital platform use in the creative industries in China and the UK

The project aims to help grow and sustain craft businesses, directly benefitting people working in the sector


Exhibition of the school's joint social innovation projects with Hunan University attended by HRH Princess Anne in July 2017, Changsha, China

School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science lecturer, Dr. Nick Bryan-Kinns, has been awarded a grant from the Arts & Humanities Research Council to research the role, value, and potential of digital platforms in craft sectors of the Creative Economy in China and the UK.

The Creative Economies are key growth drivers and economic sectors for both the UK and China. Creative Economy represents 3.97%a. of economy in China compared to 8.2%b. of UK's economy and 8.7%c. of the UK's exports of services. Digital platforms such as social networks, search engines, online marketplaces, and content distribution help to generate new products and services both online and offline. For those concerned with physical objects especially in the craft and visual arts sectors, digital platforms provide opportunities through the 4th industrial revolution where there is a blurring between physical and digital production. For example, digital platforms provide opportunities for innovation through using new materials and production techniques, they facilitate greater and closer access to markets and customers, and provide opportunities to include customers more in the design process. Digital platforms are therefore key to enabling growth in the Creative Economies in the UK and China. This is despite the fact that the UK and China have unique cultural heritages and traditions, different economic, social, and political profiles, and divergent digital infrastructure and regulations.

Dr. Nick Bryan-Kinns said, 'I’m really excited to lead this project with our Chinese partner Hunan University to explore how to better make use of digital platforms to sustain and grow craft practices and businesses in the UK and China. This is our first substantial research grant with Hunan University and builds on five years of collaboration I have led between our Universities including our co-operative Masters programmes, successful PhD graduates, and joint social innovation research. I hope that the project will start to address the lack of research on the use of digital platforms for tangible creative practices and offer new ways to treasure and embrace the traditions of both the UK and China.'
It is hoped that this project will directly benefit people working in the craft sector through dissemination of best practice in how to use digital platforms in the craft sector to help them grow and sustain their craft businesses. The project should also directly feed into the growth of these sectors by providing routes to better utilize digital platforms in the Creative Economies in China and the UK for creatives who are concerned with physical objects especially in the craft sector which has to date been largely ignored in terms of digital platform usage.
a.    (2015; [China Govt, 2016])
b.    (2014; [UK Govt, 2016])
c.    (2013; [UK Govt, 2016])



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