A new £50 million collaboration is set to help develop a world-leading hub for innovation across TV, film, and the wider media industry in Wales.
Media Cymru will help develop businesses and individuals within the sector with a series of funding rounds, training, research, and opportunities over the next five years which will revolutionise the media landscape in the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) and secure a status of global excellence.
The collaboration aims to strengthen the economic contribution of media activities in the CCR, creating millions of additional turnover across the next five years, hundreds of jobs and supporting the creation of new start-ups in the media sector.
Projects already being supported include making the screen industry more sustainable and environmentally-friendly, and addressing the issues relating to diversity in film and TV to help level up opportunities for underrepresented communities. Innovators in the sector have opportunities to apply for funding to supercharge their ideas.
Media Cymru is being led by Cardiff University, with government funding provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund, Welsh Government through Creative Wales, additional support from Cardiff Council, industry and university partners, as well as the CCR City Deal.
The CCR covers the ten local authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend County Borough, Caerphilly County Borough, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough, Monmouthshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen, and Vale of Glamorgan, and includes some of the country’s most deprived areas.
The region is already one of the best performing and third largest media clusters in the UK after London and Manchester, creating one in eight of all new UK jobs in film and TV. But further growth of the industry into a global leader in innovation will lead to greater economic return and opportunity for the region and its people.
There are 1,318 firms currently active in the audiovisual media sector in the region, generating an annual turnover of £545 million and employing more than 10,000 people.
A launch event for Media Cymru will take place at the National Museum of Wales on October 18 where organisations and individuals within the sector can find out more information about the opportunities available and how to get involved.
Professor Justin Lewis, Director of Media Cymru, said: “Cardiff and the surrounding capital region has already situated itself as a major player in the media industry.
“The Media Cymru funding allows us to be even more ambitious – to make Wales a global leader in media innovation – with a focus on global, green and fair economic growth.
“Our launch event marks the moment when Media Cymru is officially open for business. We’ll be talking about how to get involved and become a part of this exciting movement.”
One of the opportunities currently available through Media Cymru is its Innovation Pipeline, which provides funding and training opportunities for businesses and creatives, with the aim of increasing their ability to carry out research, development and innovation (RD&I), and bring more ideas, diversity, and growth to the industry.
The intervention includes up to £10,000 for freelancers and SMEs to develop ideas for new products and services; up to £50,000 for businesses to develop RD&I projects that demonstrate clear potential for a tangible product or service; and up to £200,000 for projects of significant scale and ambition that have the potential to be transformational for the sector with international impact.
Businesses will also be given the opportunity to partner with organisations across the sector on joint funding calls to address identified RD&I challenges or emerging commercial opportunities.
Another opportunity, the BBC Content Innovation Fund, will see between three and five Wales-based companies receive up to £50,000 each to develop a new ambitious idea for factual or sport with innovation at its core, and deliver a pitch deck and sample sequences aimed for broadcast on BBC One Wales and iPlayer.
Eligible companies must have at least one television credit in the last six years, with the deadline for applications to be submitted on the Media Cymru website at 12pm on November 18.
In addition, Media Cymru is carrying out the Wales Screen Workforce Survey, the country’s first nationwide survey to assess the skills and training needs, attitudes and experience of people working across film and TV, games, animation, VFX, and post-production to build a broad and inclusive talent base for the future.
And its Innovation Spaces initiative will look to connect the region’s diverse community of businesses and freelancers using in-person and digital workshops to provide access to new technology opportunities, support, and share the latest knowledge and ideas.
Projects currently greenlit include Green Cymru, which sees Ffilm Cymru Wales – the development agency for Welsh film – use funding from Media Cymru to provide solutions to green challenges in the screen industry and support the scale-up of sustainable products, services, and processes.
And production companies Boom Cymru and Rondo are collaborating on the Breaking Socioeconomic Barriers project, using funding to research the barriers to socioeconomic diversity in the film and TV sector, before preparing a report into the lack of diversity and attempting to overcome it by engaging directly with schools, colleges and underrepresented communities.
Secretary of State for Wales, Robert Buckland, said: “Wales has a thriving media industry with the potential to grow into a leader not just in the UK, but across the globe.
“Media Cymru will help ensure that Welsh media innovators have the resources to develop world class solutions to the issues of our day, as they drive forward ambitious projects that mark them out from the competition.”
Dawn Bowden, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, said: “The Welsh Government is delighted to be supporting this collaboration to help build on the success our media producers are currently enjoying in Wales.
“Giving our brightest talent the opportunity to develop and showcase their ability to innovate will not only enhance the reputation of the industry across the globe, but lead to greater returns for both our economy and our society which will ultimately benefit the region as a whole.”
Council Leader, Cllr Huw Thomas said: “This is a golden era for film making and media production in Cardiff, delivering significant growth in the Creative Industries. Our ambition is for Cardiff, the Capital Region, and Wales, to be a global hub for media innovation and production, leading one the most successful sectors in the UK.
“The Media Cymru partnership is central to achieving that and will help attract inward investment, grow our indigenous creative businesses sustainably and inclusively, create jobs, and nurture the diverse talent pipeline that will establish Cardiff and the wider region as one of the world’s most progressive and sustainable media clusters.”
Councillor Anthony Hunt, chair of Cardiff Capital Region City Deal Regional Cabinet, said: “We are hugely ambitious about building on our media sector in Wales. We’ve seen the difference that’s been made in Manchester, and the Cardiff region has all the talent and skills needed to make a first class centre for media businesses.
“Media Cymru will also play a significant role shaping our region’s economic recovery following the Covid pandemic, helping everyone share in future prosperity, from Merthyr to Monmouthshire, Bridgend to Blaenau Gwent.”