Digital recovery

Funding to support Nottingham’s cultural recovery with digital aid

Friday, 05 March 2021

A £1.6 million project has been launched to support the recovery of Nottingham’s cultural sector with the development of new immersive technology and techniques to help businesses attract audiences and customers.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham are leading the Experiential and Digital Diversification: Nottingham (LEADD:NG) project which aims to provide SME’s with a range of digital products and experiences using immersive technologies and techniques that will allow them to maximise potential and profit in a post-pandemic.

The University of Nottingham will be supported by Nottingham Trent University and will be working with local partners including: Broadway Cinema, Creative Quarter, Nottingham Castle Trust and Nottingham City Council.

Professor of Creative and Cultural Industries, Helen Kennedy is the project co-ordinator and lead, she said: “The cultural and creative industries have experienced some of the most extreme impacts from the restrictions imposed in response to the COVID19 pandemic. Even when we emerge from lockdown they could still face restrictions and the recent announcements of cuts to the sector will only add to the difficulties they face. This project will bring together academic research and technical expertise from across the university to deliver a programme of significant knowledge mobilisation and innovation in support of the local creative and cultural industries to help them thrive.”

The first programme of activity will focus on cultural recovery in the context of the pandemic and the imminent reopening of cultural and creative spaces. The research team will showcase the opportunities that exist through the application of mixed reality technologies and techniques being developed at the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab that consider how to design performance-based experiences that can take place both in person and at a distance.


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Projects being developed include: using different technology to deliver hybrid accessible musical and theatrical productions which combine an immersive digital element alongside physical audiences. Presenting multi-user VR on stage as performance. An online festival platform that lets friends and family meet in virtual environments to share live experiences together and feel like part of a bigger crowd.

The team are also working on combining products with a digital element - Studio Chocolate in Nottingham have recently trialled this with the delivery of personalised multi-media messages with their chocolates.

Professor of Computer Science, Steve Benford is leading the development of the digital innovations, he said: “The pandemic has really accelerated the use and acceptance of digital technology in the cultural space, we have all streamed live events, zoomed with friends or taken part in an activity virtually this past year. We want to take this further and develop this digital appetite to benefit SME’s who are looking for innovative ways to boost their product or performance. We will be listening to what SME’s and our partners tell us they would like and working to deliver technology to meet their needs.”

SME’s in Nottingham are being invited to an online development event on the 25th March where they will gain inspiration from the project team and have the opportunity to provide input into what types of technological innovations they could use.

Sara Blair-Manning, CEO of the Nottingham Castle Trust said: “Nottingham Castle Trust is delighted to be working with University of Nottingham colleagues and city cultural partners as part of this innovative project. We are keen to develop and build on the existing digital interactives which play a key part in the new visitor experience at Nottingham Castle, as we emerge from the challenges of the pandemic. This project and the associated research and testing, will inform how we continue to refresh the Castle visitor experiences with the most creative and exciting digital innovations available.”

The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Nottingham Sustainable Urban Development Strategy.

This project is supported by the Universities for Nottingham initiative which aims to improve the way the universities work with each other and their local partners to help change the lives of local people for the better. For more information visit:

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Helen Kennedy at the University of Nottingham on or Jane Icke, Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Science at the University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 5751,

Notes to editors

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. The University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its status as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

European Regional Development Fund

The project is receiving up to £1.6 million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit

Midlands Engine

The government is committed to making the Midlands an Engine for Growth in the UK, increasing economic growth and improving the quality of life for everyone. The Midlands is home to over 10 million people and over 780,000 businesses. Its economy is worth £217.7 billion. Alongside over €750 million of European Regional Development Fund support for businesses and communities across the Midlands, the government has awarded £1.9 billion in three rounds of Growth Deals. To gain wider promotion, enlisting the help of Local Enterprise Partnerships and other local partners who support the development and promotion of ERDF projects would be encouraged. Collaborate with these partners to maximise the reach and impact of ERDF-funded projects. Please contact your contract manager, or the MHCLG Growth Delivery Team for more information’


Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager Science
Phone: 0115 7486462

Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham

Ranked 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2023, University of Nottingham is a founding member of Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.  

The University is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.The University is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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