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Uni of Portsmouth boosting city’s cultural economy with XR

New Enabling XR Enterprise (eXRe) project utilising £628,000 grant

The University of Portsmouth, on England’s south coast, is leading a new project that will use extended reality (XR) technology to help boost the city’s visitor and cultural economy, following a successful bid for £628,000 by the Enabling XR Enterprise (eXRe) project, as part of the government’s £220m UK Community Renewal Fund.

The eXRe project is being led by the University’s Centre for Creative and Immersive eXtended Reality (CCIXR), in partnership with The Mary Rose Trust, Spinnaker Tower, Victorious Festival, Gosport Borough Council, Aspex Visual Arts Trust and The D-Day Story, will see the creation of innovative XR projects at each of the six partner organisations to increase visitor numbers and to “inspire and excite”.

Around 100 businesses and organisations of all sizes, public and private – mainly from within the heritage and visitor attraction sector in the city – will also be targeted to drive innovation and deliver much-needed skills and expertise in XR technology including:

  • Support to create an XR innovation plan to help them gain an understanding of XR technology and its benefits and identify skills gaps and challenges;
  • Specialist courses, workshops and seminars to increase skills and transfer knowledge to businesses and organisations across the region;
  • Networking events to build a heritage/tourism community to explore XR and its benefits and stimulate further research and innovation in the future.

“This is an exciting project that brings together local businesses and organisations to support and enable culture-led regeneration in our heritage and visitor economy across the city,” explained Professor Trevor Keeble, executive dean of the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University.

“XR innovations and digital technologies are fundamental to Portsmouth becoming a global city. Enhancing our heritage and visitor attractions will encourage more tourists. While these new artefacts will bring exciting new experiences, the legacy, including the innovation that this project will inspire, will have an enduring impact on the city in the long-term.

“Importantly, eXRe will draw on the fantastic work and skills of students and staff in the University and will create more jobs in the growing XR sector, hopefully encouraging our graduates to set-up their own businesses in the city and thus allowing Portsmouth to retain the incredibly valuable skills we will need for the future.”

CCIXR brings a unique facility to Portsmouth, offering world-class technologies all under one roof. Co-funded by Solent Local Enterprise Partnership in collaboration with the government, CCIXR is a UK first, and eXRe will boost the city’s economy, cultural regeneration and community development.

Pippa Bostock, business director for CCIXR, added: “CCIXR’s unique blend of innovation and business support, technological expertise, and world-class facilities provides a significant opportunity, with cutting-edge creative and immersive technologies central to the project.

“Opening our facilities and expertise to the city will provide a huge boost to businesses and organisations and help to raise aspirations and inspire future generations to engage with technology.”

The Enabling XR Enterprise (eXRe): Creating skills, boosting communities and benefitting visitor and cultural economy project will run from November 2021 through to June 2022, including the eXRe showcase in June 2022.