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Jun 16. 2023

Clwstwr: a five-year investment in creative innovation


One of PDR’s biggest ever projects has reached its successful conclusion.

Clwstwr was a Cardiff-based research and development (R&D) incubator focused on helping small and emerging creative enterprises innovate and grow. Representing a multi-million-dollar, five-year collaboration between industry, academia and government, Clwstwr offered creative industry organisations (CIOs) the opportunity to apply for funding and support to develop their ideas from rough sketches to market-ready products and services.

“PDR’s role in the project was to take our extensive experience in design-led innovation and apply it to the creative industries,” said Director of Research Professor Andy Walters. “The aim was to enable organisations to use their creative skills to develop their own innovative ideas rather than just using them in their work for their clients.” He added, “taking a design-led approach, we were able to help creative organisations look at themselves, look at the market and look at their users, and bring their insights together to create new products and services that are of real value.”

Turning ideas into reality

Clwstwr offered applicants several different funding levels. For CIOs just starting out on their R&D journey, we developed a two-day Ideas Lab. These fully funded workshops introduced them to the key mindsets and methods of human centred design and problem solving, including observation, focus-groups, diary studies and prototype-testing.

Along the way, we generated considerable insight into what drives successful innovation in the creative industries. This was captured in a series of four Expertise Reports on topics including fostering sustainability and ED&I (equality, diversity and inclusion), collaborating with the arts, heritage and culture sector, and implementing policy recommendations to support the creative industries.

“Being part of Clwstwr has been an amazing experience,” said Jo Ward, Senior Designer Researcher, at PDR. “We have seen projects go from seeing R&D and innovation as something of an intimidating unknown concept to feeling like they have permission and confidence in using terms and processes that they have experienced during sessions with us. Success for me hasn’t been the number of projects that have had ‘something’ to take to market, but the number of projects that have come away with learning what is of value through successful research and testing of ideas with their users.”

Was Clwstwr a success?

A short selection of participant comments gives a good indication of the impact the program made:

  • “The first PDR session [Ideas Lab] was the best workshop I’d ever been involved in in Wales, and it did make me think a great deal.”
  • The biggest impact was “being given language, terminology, and frameworks for things that I already did, but that I’d never been able to put value on. I’d done a lot of R&D, but I didn’t have the vocabulary to name it.”
  • “Our R&D journey has been far from a simple straight line. But thanks to Clwstwr our concept is better researched, our narrative is more compelling, and our product will be more marketable.”

After five years, Clwstwr has passed the baton of creative industry innovation to Media Cymru, an expanded regional accelerator in which PDR will continue to play a leading role.

Clwstwr at a glance:

  • 5 years of operation
  • 3 years of program delivery
  • 118 new creative projects funded
  • 170 freelancers employed
  • Over £3.6 million of direct funding
  • Around £0.75 million worth of training and support
  • £2.1 million of additional investment by funding recipients

PDR delivered:

  • 3 Ideas Labs with up to 20 participants in each
  • 3 workshops with applicants for partnership funding with Welsh cultural organisations
  • 2 workshops at Cardiff Animation Festivals
  • 1 workshop at the Clwstwr Verse showcase of Clwstwr projects
  • 1 workshop at the New Futures for Creative Economies conference, Bristol
  • 1 workshop with Clwstwr projects focused on sustainability and ED&I
  • 4 expertise reports (with journal articles in preparation)
  • A set of innovation inspiration cards linking Clwstwr projects to the Welsh Well-Being of Future Generations Goals
  • One-to-one support for:
  • 68 projects during open funding calls
  • 5 projects through partnership funding

Next steps

Read more about our work on Clwstwr here

Explore more of our work or get in touch if you’re interested in working with us.