Fifteen arts and humanities projects selected under entrepreneurial funding scheme

Published: 16 April 2024

The Founders Fund for Creatives programme supports the development of early-stage projects that could offer up commercial opportunities or be explored for wider social, community or creative impact.

Researchers in arts and humanities

Researchers in arts and humanities are exploring applications for their work thanks to a new funding scheme that encourages entrepreneurial thinking in disciplines beyond science and technology.

The Founders Fund for Creatives programme is supporting the development of early-stage projects that could offer up commercial opportunities or be explored for wider social, community or creative impact.

Involving collaboration between the University of Glasgow, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The Glasgow School of Art, the programme, which launched last November, is now actively engaging teams of researchers across a wide range of ideas and mediums, from podcasts to mobile apps.

The first cohort of potential entrepreneurs attended the first in a series of workshops last month where they began testing out their ideas and applying new skills that could see them extending the reach and impact of their work beyond the academic setting.

Of the first 15 projects to be selected under the programme, 10 of them are from the College of Arts and Humanities at the University, and seven involve collaboration between the partner institutions. Successful applicants were selected by judging panels at each institution in consultation with external experts.

The University projects cover a diverse range of research and potential application in the outside world, from detecting forgeries in the world of Robert Burns’ manuscripts to improving diversity in the screen industries.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has three projects: an animated retelling of a medieval Shetlandic folktale as part of a series of work to educate people about Scotland’s history; a queer-led musical podcast company that is exploring Britain’s first queer communities; and building training for medical students that demonstrates and promotes singing for health.

The two projects from The Glasgow School of Art are: improving research skills training in Higher Education through game-based learning; and a creative growth model that allows “creative and cultural practitioners and organisations to relationally map their growth and development.”

The Founders Fund for Creatives is a joint pilot innovation fund for early-stage projects that provides up to £10k per project for six months. The programme is supported by the Scottish Funding Council through its University Innovation Fund.

Successful applicants will benefit from training in innovation relevant to arts and humanities projects, as well as support and guidance on project development.

Mel Anderson, Head of IP and Commercialisation, at the University of Glasgow, said: “The Founders Fund for Creatives was launched by the University, The Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Conservatoire to provide support to the development of early-stage projects in the arts and humanities recognising that there is a wealth of innovation in this area that have the potential to deliver sustainable social, community, policy as well as economic impact but need support to release this potential.

“The projects funded have a range of potential impacts and, if validated, could be realised via the creation of social enterprises, spin-out ventures or by licensing the intellectual assets for existing organisations to deliver.

“We congratulate all those projects that were successful, and we look forward to seeing the teams develop their ideas over the coming months.”

Colin Kirkpatrick, Head of Research Support Services at The Glasgow School of Art, said: “The Glasgow School of Art is pleased to be collaborating with colleagues from the University of Glasgow and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on this new programme (Founders Fund for Creatives) aimed at supporting entrepreneurship in the Creative Arts.

“By encouraging more researchers to consider the commercial potential and impact of their research, the programme provides a platform for the Arts and Humanities to make a unique contribution to Scotland’s Entrepreneurial Campus Strategy.

“We are delighted that two researchers from GSA have been awarded funding to develop their ideas and will now benefit from taking part in a cohort training programme over the next 6 months, alongside participants from University of Glasgow and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.”

Deborah Keogh, Knowledge Exchange Manager and Innovation Hub Project Lead at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “We are so incredibly grateful to our colleagues at the University of Glasgow for both recognising this rich and untapped area for targeted development support and for opening this up to us as local Small Specialist Institution partners in such a collaborative and open way.

“This is such a transformative opportunity for those whose projects have been selected for support and it fills a unique gap in the current system.

“The Founders Fund for Creatives encourages artists and researchers to think entrepreneurially and develop projects with tangible real-world impacts. The programme helps them explore new ways of taking their art out into the world and using it to make a difference by empowering and enriching people, culture and communities.”

The projects selected under the Founders Fund for Creatives programme are:

University of Glasgow

  • Arts and Humanities Partnership Catalyst (AHPCatalyst) - Design-led and partner-driven knowledge exchange programme that aims to provide a service to support project development between industry and academia, where the research/academic-focused approach is reversed, and partner, audience, and community needs are emphasised.

  • CHARMS (Cultural Heritage and Applied Research in Materials Science) service - Collaborative enterprise to undertake scientific analysis on archaeological artefacts and works of art with a suite of analytical techniques for non-invasive materials analysis.

  • A Forgery Toolkit for Authenticating the Works of Robert Burns – Developing a ‘toolkit’ for detecting forgeries of Robert Burns for use by auction houses and national/local archival collections, working with external stakeholders to scope out the market for literary forgery and the information holders/potential acquirers of material require formally to authenticate manuscripts.

  • The Everyday Diversity App: Improving Diversity in the Screen Industries and Beyond – Showing time-poor industry practitioners how to be inclusive in whatever situation they find themselves in, from recruitment to content production, workplace culture, locations and financing.

  • Innovating in performance with Indian tabla and electronics - A new creative project to explore the artistic possibilities of combining the tabla with live computer-based sound processing and immersive spatialisation.

  • Set Ready Safety: Investor Research, Readiness and Engagement - Digital safety training platform for the screen sector, providing interactive and immersive training content to engage and empower freelance crew and ensure consistency across production management.

  • DisInfoCheck - Bringing together philosophers of disinformation, computer scientists, and game designers to design the first disinformation-checking AI (DisinfoCheck) that tracks disinformation spread via true assertion and design a game that teaches children to avoid disinformation online.

  • Music Composition Resource for Early Years - Developing a pilot of what will be a substantial licensable resource for use by nursery staff with no prior formal music training. The resource will enable staff to confidently deliver basic musical skills and knowledge, with a particular emphasis on music composition and providing children with experience of being composers.

  • Developing authentic and sustainable Gaelic cultural experiences on the island of Mull - Aiming to develop a business offering authentic, sustainable and unique Gaelic cultural experiences in Mull. These experiences will bring hyperlocal Gaelic language and culture to life via local placenames, stories and songs using Extended Reality (XR) and physical visits to sites of cultural significance identified in my research.

  • A Toolkit for CAMERA (Creative Approaches to Memory and Emotions through Research and Art) - Develop a portable toolkit for the CAMERA – an impact project grounded in participatory arts research and exploring the ways in which photography and writing can help people (re)gain agency over their mind and body, fostering a sense of wellbeing, belonging to place, and human connection.


Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

  • Jan Tait and the Bear: an animated musical retelling of a medieval Shetlandic folktale - An animated comedic chamber opera which recounts a medieval Shetlandic folktale through original music, dialogue and imagery, weaving together mythology, history, and natural history for all-ages audiences. Intended as a prototype for a series using folktales and music to educate people about Scotland’s history and nature in an enjoyable, artistically compelling way.

  • A Queer-Led Musical Podcast Company and its first series “The Order of Chaeronea” - Research into musical audio fiction and queer activist George Cecil Ives, allowing the queer community to learn the forgotten history of Britain's first underground LGBTQ+ activist group, recognise themselves through ancient queer stories, and explore attitudes to homosexuality during the 1890s.
  • Collaborative Training on Singing for Health for Medical Students - Scotland’s Singing for Health Network (SSfHN) will work with course convenors within medical schools to develop a variety of training opportunities for medics (including future GPs, nurses, specialists etc.) that will allow students to learn and engage with singing for health research and practice.

The Glasgow School of Art

  • Improving research skills training in Higher Education through game-based learning – Exploring a digital version of the successful tabletop game How to Fail Your Research Degree that teaches research skills. No other similar services exist, and the exploration of facilitation and training models will remove the barriers to uptake of these effective learning solutions.

  • Mapping Your Creative Growth - A creative growth model that allows creative and cultural practitioners and organisations to relationally map their growth and development. This has been applied with enterprise accelerators (Elevator, SHIFT), cultural organisations (CHARTS Argyll and Isles, NEoN Festival) and Universities supporting creative development as an effective way to support and evaluate creative and cultural entrepreneurship and innovation.


First published: 16 April 2024