Of all the projects in all the world . . . video gets Pounds 2m

June 28, 1996

Interactive television, video megastores for home shoppers and the creation of 3D models from film and video that could place the user in Rick's Bar in Casablanca are among the areas to be explored in a Pounds 9 million research project announced this week.

The study, which will link up researchers at the universities of the West of England and Bristol with the National Film and Television School, has won Pounds 2million backing under the Government's Foresight Challenge. The competition aims to push recommendations from the technology foresight exercise. Earmarked funding worth Pounds 30 million for the 24 winning Challenge projects will be matched by Pounds 62 million from the private sector, according to science minister Ian Taylor.

Called the National Creative Technologies Initiative, the West of England-Bristol project is intended to use United Kingdom skills in film, video, television and innovative computer products and services to help "revolutionise" leisure, learning and business. Linda Skinner, project co-ordinator at UWE says: "The NCTI Laboratory will act as a test bed for new creative unions between digital image processing, computer vision, graphics, virtual reality and animation."

Film makers including Sir David Puttnam, a visiting lecturer in film at Bristol University, and Peter Greenaway are involved. Firms involved include Aardman Animations, British Telecom, United Artists and Silicon Graphics.

Other successful Challenge projects announced by Mr Taylor and Government's chief scientist, Sir Robert May, include a Pounds 16 million collaboration between Cambridge University researchers, Smithkline Beecham Pharmaceutical and bodies including the British Heart Foundation to set up a Cerebrovascular Centre in Cambridge.

The facility, which will receive Pounds 4 million from Government, will use positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging to study blood-flow mechanism. Sir Robert says the work could help to reduce the incidence of strokes and will involve studies of patients with stroke risk factors including genetic predisposition.

The smallest successful Challenge bid looks at the future of London's financial markets. The Pounds 0,000 study, led by the Financial Markets Group at the London School of Economics, concentrates on the competitive edge of the City's equity and derivatives markets.

A new National Institute of Applied Catalysis involving 20 UK companies and 44 academic departments is also going to be set up. The Pounds 3.74 million initiative will feature work on developing new catalysts for cleaner technologies.

Challenge funding has also gone to work on an " evolutionary" computer modelling approach to the design of high performance defence and aerospace materials.

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