A project which aims to strengthen Salford and Greater Manchester's digital and creative economy, has been awarded funding through the Innovation Accelerator pilot programme.
Salford City Council through The Landing, working with strategic partners across the city, will support new innovation through research and development, with the ambition of fuelling growth in the city, boosting skills and employment and attracting new investment.
The project – one of ten to secure funding in Greater Manchester – will create a people-centred innovation hub at MediaCity and will foster new research and development in immersive technologies and their wider applications within sectors such as entertainment, the built environment, manufacturing and arts and culture.
It builds on MediaCity's successes over the last decade as a national centre for digital and creative industries.
Salford City mayor Paul Dennett and chair of The Landing's Board said:
"Through this project, Salford will continue to nurture and join the dots for creative individuals, SMEs and communities and help them to play an important role in our innovation journey.
"Our vision is for everyone to benefit, while we foster a culture of innovation and sustainable growth. Through a programme of activities supporting innovators and delivering targeted research projects, accompanied by outreach activities that will deliver a greener, better, fairer city and help address health and employment inequalities in Salford, GM, and across the UK, the project will help businesses develop and adopt innovative tech solutions and enhance MediaCity's role in GM's innovation ecosystem."
Speaking on behalf of MediaCity, Stephen Wild, managing director, added:
"MediaCity's unique community and living lab provides a perfect environment where collaborative and applied innovation thrives. The Immersive Technologies Innovation Hub will enhance MediaCity's inclusive environment for business innovation and R&D to positively impact the lives and productivity of communities across Greater Manchester.
"We look forward to working with our existing partners as well as new companies, innovators and entrepreneurs to facilitate new discoveries and help Greater Manchester's businesses adopt the new wave of immersive and metaverse technologies."
Speaking on behalf of the University of Salford, professor Karl Dayson, pro vice-chancellor of research and enterprise, said:
"The University of Salford enthusiastically welcomes the creation of an Immersive Technology Innovation Hub led by The Landing at MediaCity. Along with the other successful Innovation Accelerator projects it lays the foundations for a vibrant and innovation led economy for Salford and Greater Manchester. We can now begin to deliver the vision of Innovation Greater Manchester and bring greater prosperity to our pioneering city-region."
Prof Andy Miah, chair of the University of Salford's metaverse special interest group, added:
"The University of Salford has strong heritage as a pioneering immersive technologies research environment, through which we have championed important issues of inclusivity and innovation.
"The metaverse is a game changer in the digital sector, but it’s still not well understood. As new immersive technologies roll out, we'll see that the metaverse isn't just hyperbole but a change in mindset that will shape our expectations of what’s possible in the web3 era. We are therefore delighted to be a part of this ground-breaking new hub which will make such an important contribution towards Salford’s journey into exploring these immersive new technologies as we aim to realise the full potential and limitless possibilities of this new environment."