Creative Futures

The Creative Futures funding call has now closed. 

The Creative Futures call supports XR Stories and SIGN’s aim to produce new knowledge for academic and industry benefit. This knowledge will enhance future planning for Yorkshire and the Humber’s creative economy. 

We are seeking expressions of interest from academic teams who can combine academic and industry research to help us understand what’s next for the region and guide the next steps for businesses, workers, policymakers and universities. 

Principal investigators must be based at a UK higher education institution, but the research team can include other research organisations, industry stakeholders and independent consultants.

Research Areas

We’re commissioning research into four distinct areas to inform our work and provide new knowledge supporting the development of the screen industries in Yorkshire and the Humber. The four areas of research are:

1. Business development intelligence for Yorkshire and the Humber creative businesses. This includes scoping and developing advice for SMEs relevant to XR Stories and SIGN about short and medium term horizons on the following topics: investment opportunities; emerging markets for immersive storytelling; access to finance; new business models; or other relevant topics for business development.

2. Building an environmentally friendly creative XR sector. XR relies on digital devices with relatively short lifespans, energy-intensive manufacturing processes, cloud platforms, battery technologies and other elements which pose threats to environmental sustainability. We are seeking research which begins to understand these threats; quantifies the environmental impacts of creative XR technologies; and examines possibilities for sustainable manufacture, consumption and recycling of creative XR technologies.

3. Yorkshire and the Humber Creative R&D Futures. This includes scoping and horizon-scanning sectors that offer potential for transformative development in Yorkshire and the Humber’s creative economy. This research should examine policy trajectories, undertake SWOT analysis, scope infrastructure requirements, market and investment opportunities, and research funding, amongst other factors, to help inform stakeholders about how and where future work should be focused.

4. Virtual Production Horizons. Virtual production has emerged as a key set of tools and processes for the future of film and TV production. We are seeking research which maps the virtual production ecosystem at a global and national scale, and identifies key elements for effective and efficient adoption of virtual production methodologies.

Applications will be assessed through a two-stage process to ensure projects are focused on the benefit of the region’s screen industries. First, expression of interest proposals will be assessed by staff at the University of York. Successful applicants will work with XR Stories and SIGN staff to hone projects, develop timetables and agree deliverables.

Project outputs

All projects should produce at a minimum:

  • a report for XR Stories and SIGN who may then choose to make this publicly available 
  • an industry briefing which summarises the key findings
  • a presentation to the XR Stories and SIGN teams. 


Projects must be led by an academic PI based at a UK higher education institution, but can also include relevant partners (e.g. other research organisations, industry stakeholders, independent consultants).

The research must demonstrate benefit to the Yorkshire and Humber region.

All project teams must demonstrate that they are working in an ethical manner and in line with XR Stories and SIGN’s diversity and inclusion policy.

Next steps

Expressions of interest will close at midday on Monday 6 December 2021.


Deadline – 6 December, 12pm
Notification progression to full proposal – before Christmas
Project start – Projects are likely to commence early 2022 and should report within 3-6 months of commencing.

For questions, please contact: [email protected]

This project is part of:

  • Research

    Investigating the challenges facing the screen industries and devising evidence-based interventions