Audience of the future challenge

'Dream' rehearsal photo of dancer and screen avatar. Credit: Stuart Martin, Royal Shakespeare Company

'Dream' rehearsal photo of dancer and screen avatar. Credit: Stuart Martin, Royal Shakespeare Company

This challenge has invested £39.3 million in the development of new immersive technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality. We have also commissioned research to better understand audiences for immersive productions in the fields of art, culture, heritage and entertainment.

The challenge has invested in:

  • a demonstrator programme of immersive experiences, covering four main entertainment sectors: e-sports and gaming, performance, moving image, and visitor experience
  • production innovation for immersive content: projects creating faster, more efficient
    immersive content
  • an immersive technology investment accelerator to support early-stage businesses
  • design foundations support for projects exploring human-centred design
  • StoryFutures Academy, a new national centre for immersive storytelling.

Find funding opportunities

We are not funding new projects under this challenge, but you can search on our funding finder for UKRI Challenge Fund funding and any wider opportunities related to creative industries.

Search funding opportunities

Our funding opportunities may fund research and development projects that are classed as feasibility studies, industrial research or experimental development.

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, the following intervention rates may apply:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, the following intervention rates may apply:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation

Capital costs may be funded through some funding opportunities with intervention rates of up to 80%.

Funded projects

A selection of projects funded through this challenge.


This AI-driven mixed reality platform launched a new version of its experimental platform in May 2020, creating the world’s first online-only Esports tournaments. The technology could be used to support conventional sports as they explore new ways of engaging remote audiences. Watch audiences try the WEAVR prototype (YouTube)

Wallace and Gromit: The Big Fix Up

The Big Fix Up, the first augmented reality production featuring Wallace and Gromit, is a collaboration between start-up company Fictioneers and Aardman Animations. The adventure can be played in families’ homes before inviting them to ‘real’ events located nearby with other players. See the making of Wallace and Gromit: The Big Fix Up (YouTube)

Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom

The immersive VR studio Maze Theory is developing a new virtual reality drama game based on BAFTA-award winning Peaky Blinders. The game will use artificial intelligence to enable characters to respond to players’ gestures, movement, voice, sound and body language.


The Royal Shakespeare Company has worked with 15 specialist organisations from theatre, music, video production, gaming and research to stream live performances to mobile phones and extended reality headsets. Using motion capture and computer game technologies, Dream is a live, online performance delivering a wholly new interpretation of Shakespeare and an entirely new channel for theatre.

Dinosaurs and Robots

This is an augmented reality experience that combines mixed reality technology with immersive theatre, to create two separate visitor experiences where they can explore multi-sensory and interactive worlds. The project, led by Factory 42, encourages families to build and play games using mobile technology, creativity, and skills in science and engineering. See the promo video (YouTube)

The StoryFutures Academy

The StoryFutures Academy supports skills development in immersive storytelling through experimental labs, boot camps, workshops and placements. In total, it will support and co-fund over 60 immersive productions. Watch video of immersive workshop with BBC3 (YouTube)

Last updated: 13 February 2023

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