CoSTAR: a national network with partnership at its core

Male on wheelchair imitating various robot sounds against screen with 3D film in studio

Top tips for applying to host CoSTAR: Convergent Screen Technologies And performance in Realtime.

As we reflect on the 2 months since CoSTAR was launched and the opening of the first funding opportunity, there is much to be excited about.

Throughout October and November, we took CoSTAR on tour – we visited universities, cultural venues and production studios across 6 different locations to brief the UK on what CoSTAR is and how to apply for a proportion of the £63.6 million in the current opportunity. We were met by over 500 attendees and supported by 17 fantastic panellists – from academia and research, from across the creative industries, and from policy and economic development agencies – all key stakeholders in CoSTAR’s formation and delivery.

What does 2023 have in store?

Looking towards 2023, we can build on that engagement and really begin to visualise CoSTAR – how it might function, where it could be located, how and who it might be accessed by to accelerate innovation, competitiveness and ambition in the screen and performance industries, and to power the wider UK creative sector.

Early in 2023 the assessment process for applications to lots 1 and 2 will commence. We expect to have some hard decisions to make about the infrastructure CoSTAR will create, which is about so much more than buildings. We are commissioning a network of 1 national lab and up to 3 network labs that will be accessible by all. The network as a whole will provide research and development (R&D) space, transform media production and generate partnerships to create impact at scale and for the long term.

National lab or network lab?

You might assume that bigger is better and the optimum way to access the funding is to apply to host the national lab. You might be right, but that can also risk going against the core principles of partnership and network development. Some locations will be well placed to host the national lab, for others a network lab might be the better option. Yes, the national lab investment might result in an entirely new building, but its potential is only as strong as its position within a wider network. In other words, we urge applicants to think less about what the infrastructure is and more about what it does and what it will enable.

The national lab will deliver programmes of knowledge exchange, enterprise and commercialisation, as well as demonstrators and pilots. It will deliver these on behalf of the entire network in collaboration with all of the CoSTAR labs and partners. The network labs will need to be agile and responsive to the communities they serve – these might be specific sub-sectors or particular geographies, or a combination of both.

To function really well the network labs will understand their place and potential within sectoral or geographical communities expertly. CoSTAR is an opportunity to not only build on current capabilities, but to create the conditions for long term transformation way beyond the initial 6 years of this investment.

Further information and resources about the CoSTAR funding opportunity, including the slide deck and videos from the recent engagement events.

Read the frequently asked questions document on the application process for lots 1 and 2.

To contact the CoSTAR team please email

A second funding opportunity for CoSTAR lot 3 will be opened in early 2023. Please find details of new funding opportunities and subscribe to news alerts.

Top image:  Credit: EvgeniyShkolenko, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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