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University wins 5G research grant

A School of Media team at the University of Brighton has been awarded more than £37,000 to explore the potential that 5G holds for the games and performing arts sectors.

The faster-connectivity fifth generation or 5G is the planned successor to the 4G networks which service most mobile phones. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is providing the university with £37,615 from a total project of £44,766.

The project, called 5G:XR, is an international creative-industries project with external partners in Istanbul and Brighton and will interest audiences across the cultural industries and tech sectors.

The University’s School of Media team conducting the research comprises Dr Olu Jenzen, Deputy Head of School (Research and Enterprise); Donna Close, Senior Research Fellow; and Dr Ryan Burns, Senior Lecturer. All are from the University’s Centre for Digital Media Cultures.

Donna Close, who is leading the project, said: “The project will build a researcher and creative industries network across Turkey and the UK  to explore the potential for 5G for collaborations between the games and performing arts sector, particularly around technology supported immersive experiences of arts and gaming.”

Partnering the University are Brunel University and the Brighton digital and creative industries through Wired Sussex, Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival. In Turkey, the partners are Istanbul Bilgi University and Bahçeşehir University working with industry partners Tiyatro Kooperatifi (Theatre Cooperative) and Bahçeşehir University Game Lab (BUG) – an incubator hub for independent game developers in Istanbul.

Supported by AHRC and Newton Fund, the project will ask: What impact could 5G have on the way arts and culture is made and shared, locally and internationally, face-to-face and virtually? It will also ask what artists and practitioners from the performing arts and games sector bring to the critical understanding and practical application of 5G?

Donna Close said: “5G:XR will stimulate new local ‘fused’ – creative plus digital – networks in Istanbul and Brighton and new academic-plus-industry partnerships between the two cities and countries.

“We will identify areas for future research and development that will form the basis for further industry and academia collaboration and follow-on funding bid development.

“We want to facilitate closer collaboration between the performing arts and games sector in the Istanbul region and explore opportunities for the cultural and creative industries to link with technology businesses, forming ‘fused’ networks.

“We also want to internationalise possibilities for the existing performing arts and games cluster in Brighton, and to collate a global evidence and literature review of 5G for cultural innovation to identify challenges and opportunities.”

Other priorities are: Identify commonalities and synergies between the XR ‘immersive’ sectors in Turkey and the UK and use these shared aspects to forge a new network; find specific collaborative

projects that the sectors can collaborate on locally and internationally; foster stronger partnership working between academic institutions and industry in Brighton and Istanbul; support the career development of consumer responses with expertise in this emerging area of research by enabling them to work internationally; and lead on particular work packages within the project, and receive mentoring by more senior colleagues.

Dr Olu Jenzen said: “The project brings together UK/Turkey academic and industry expertise relating to the intersection of creative industries, new media and cultural production.”

The researchers are planning a symposium/workshop in Istanbul and Brighton simultaneously with technology-assisted live translation, plus a report on best practice and long-term collaborations, a journal article, website and film.

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