March 27 2024

ekip´s profile of the month: Nicola Osborne

Photo: Nicola Osborne
By Bodil Malmström

Creative Informatics: Unleashing the power of data, which runs as part of the Edinburgh Science Festival from 30th March to 7th April, showcases work undertaken as part of the hugely ambitious Creative Informatics programme, with delivery led by ekip colleague Nicola Osborne, University of Edinburg.

Creative Informatics has been nurturing data driven innovation across the creative industries in Edinburgh and Southeast Scotland over the last five and a half years, seeking to connect the cities thriving creative and tech sectors, and help creatives explore the creative and economic potential of bringing data, data driven technologies, and new business models into their practice. The team has engaged with over 2600 individual creatives, supported around 350 people and companies, including around 130 small (under £25k) R&D projects from data driven knitting to electronic skin for robotics. The impact of the programme has been substantial: 47 new start ups, spin outs or significant pivots; 445 new or safeguarded jobs; and £7.6m in further funding and investment secured by companies CI has been supporting. The projected impact on the local economy is £53.2m GVA (Gross Value Added) from 2019-2016.

Nicola and their team wanted to showcase Creative Informatics at the Edinburgh Science Festival because it represents a unique opportunity to reach a large public audience who enjoy and are interested in STEAM – bringing creative approaches together with data and technology – but may not have heard of the project or companies before. The team expect around 10,000 people per day to be coming through the museum during the exhibition, giving the perfect opportunity for families and adults to explore a huge range of data driven creativity – from BeatBlocks’ making music with LEGO (and AI), to Cloud Quilting who enable crafters to turn meaningful dates into handmade textiles, visitors can try out VR adventure fitness game Venture’s Gauntlet, explore ploterre’s beautiful and sustainably printed data driven environmental art works, to “Picture Your Poisons”, a moving glass art piece about the rather toxic treatments for breast cancer (created by artists Caitlin McDonald – who joins ekip in June, and glass specialist Inge Panneels).

Almost 20 companies will be featured in total across the exhibition, with more innovative creative work be featured in two further Creative Informatics events at the festival: “Creative AI for Creative Work” (10th April) – a panel session looking at the impact of AI on the creative industries, building on our recent Creative AI Demonstrator project and research which has also fed into the first ekip policy area (and will be further showcased at an event in Glasgow in May); and “Let’s Play” (12th April), an interactive evening event celebrating the Scottish video games industry linking to CoSTAR: the UK R&D Network for Creative Technology, a major new programme that builds on Creative Informatics’ legacy (and on which both Nicola and the Director of Creative Informatics, Melissa Terras, will be working).

Nicola says:“We are really excited to share this inspiring data driven creative work – and dynamic local companies – with a broad public, from young children through to retired people and everyone in between. We invite anyone from across the ekip partnership to join us if you are in/near Edinburgh over the first two weeks of April. Do also look out for our forthcoming book, Data-Driven Innovation in the Creative Industries, due to be published in April, sharing many of our learnings and reflections from across Creative Informatics.”


Creative Informatics has just been named as a finalist for Data Transformation of the Year, and for Data Team of the Year, at the British Data Awards 2024 (

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