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Innovate UK grant awards Indian firm developing ‘covid-safe’ platform for night economy in Manchester

5 October 2020

Categories: Digital and Technology

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Digital and Technology and Manchester India Partnership

Indian immersive tech solutions firm WOWSOME XR has been awarded a grant from the UK government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. It forms part of a £40m grant funding boost for cutting-edge companies to invest in new projects and services designed to support economic recovery from the impact of Coronavirus.

Selected from more than 8,600 applications, the firm will use the grant to develop a new streaming platform called ioLive to help artists, performers and educators produce and stream broadcast quality shows from home, directly to global audiences online.

Artists will be empowered to make the most of their ‘Work from Home' situations using the ioLive platform to produce and broadcast quality, live performances. The framework needs minimal crew and is low cost, using existing off-the-shelf equipment and little to no transportation.

The platform has been tested by project partners, United We Stream (UWS) and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), which participated in trials to support their network of artists in the night economy and cultural sectors to produce shows during the lockdown. UWS is a national success, reaching 4.7 million viewers with 26,000 followers from 16 countries on five continents after the first three weeks.

Sacha Lord, Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester said:

“United We Stream has been such a great success story, bringing fun, live events and most importantly, safety messaging to people across the world. This ioLive project between WOWSOME XR and United We Stream, funded by Innovate UK, is a project we’re really pleased to have been part of.

“It looks like, even when the events and music industries can begin to host live events again, streaming will be a key part, and I personally, am really interested in how this technology can be utilised across Greater Manchester, for example, to support our residents who maybe feel they cannot attend live music in person, or as a tool for inclusion to bring the power of live music to a wider audience.”

Minister for Investment, Gerry Grimstone said:

“Great to see an investor from India, one of our closest friends, continuing to support innovation in the UK to combat the impact of the pandemic on businesses. The cultural and night-time economy has been hard hit by Coronavirus, and WOWSOME XR’s solution shows how we can overcome barriers in times of crisis.

“Manchester is a hot spot for creativity, nightlife and emerging technologies. It is promising to see innovation which combines these important cultural forces being developed in the region.”

Tim Newns, CEO of MIDAS, Greater Manchester’s inward investment agency, said:

“This announcement is a true testament to Greater Manchester’s creativity, innovation and resilience – as well as the city region’s continually strengthened relationship with India. In challenging times, our people come together to innovate and develop solutions, as perfectly demonstrated by WOWSOME XR and their collaboration with United We Stream and The Landing.

“We are delighted to have helped facilitate this collaboration as well as help establish WOWSOME XR within Greater Manchester’s burgeoning creative, digital and technology industry to ensure they access the best tech talent to develop this innovative product.”

MIDAS and the Department for International Trade (DIT) were instrumental in helping WOWSOME XR set up in Manchester. The company joined three fact-finding visits from India to the UK, during which they were able to compare several possible locations including Manchester. They also met with MIDAS and the department’s tech industry specialists who introduced them to key regional contacts.

Through an interactive display page, with AI personalisation, viewers enjoy an immersive experience. Artists, producers and intrigued audiences can sign up for an invitation to participate in early testing of the streaming platform.

The company is in the process of raising further capital to take ioLive to market.

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