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Creative Solutions is a yearly thematic innovation program for multi-disciplinary professionals (art, science, technology, etc.) that are eager to collaborate with others in the development of a viable solution to an identified opportunity or challenge. Participants of the Creative Solutions program follow the Idea Lab processes (Design Thinking, Co-creation, Open Innovation) and are guided by experts in creativity, innovation, advisors, mentors and facilitators throughout an idea to prototype journey.
In the 2021 edition, Creative Solutions will embrace the theme Digital Immersive Content Creation. The aim is to ignite the development of an ecosystem in Saudi Arabia of creatives and innovators that uses digital technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Realities (MR), Extended Realities (XR), Immersive Audio, and Haptics to create innovative content, experiences and solutions.
The Creative Solutions mission is to ignite, develop and strengthen an innovation ecosystem that supports the growth of the creative economy in Saudi Arabia.
Every year, the Creative Solutions program will run open calls to attract at least 100 creatives in Saudi Arabia. Up to 30 of those innovators will be selected to the cohort and at least five (5) ideas will be supported to be developed into a working prototype.
Creative Solutions program is designed to support any 18+ year old Saudi Arabia citizen or resident creative and innovator in Saudi who has ideas, concepts and/or projects that can leverage immersive technologies such as VR, AR, XR, Haptics, and Immersive Audio to develop new and authentic content, experiences and viable solutions for the creative economy. The potential participants can be, for instance, artists, entrepreneurs, technologists, professionals, university students or academic researchers, among others.
Registration opens February 23, 2021
Hamish A Jenkinson is the founder and CEO of The Department Studios. In 2013, Hamish co-founded the worlds’ first immersive experiential agency, taking on the role of Executive Creative Director at The Department, bringing together cutting-edge tech, creative content and theatrical performance to deliver one-of-a-kind experiences for some of the world’s biggest brands and shows. Fascinated by the new tech innovations, Hamish has used his wide knowledge of creating large-scale immersive worlds to push the boundaries of what AR and VR can do. The use of augmented storytelling and ‘lived’ experiences have fast-tracked during the Covid-19 pandemic and The Department has been well-positioned to bring stunning new concepts to client projects. In 2009 he founded the cult experimental art venues, The Old Vic Tunnels & The Vaults. This was the birth of the immersive movement and Time Out awarded Hamish a place in its 100 Club of creative innovators for his work in Performance Art. Most recently Hamish leads his team, along with an acclaimed collective of leading international immersive talent, to launch Neom’s Experience Centre in KSA, the first showcase of what this destination of the future will become.“It is a great privilege to be part of the leadership team, working with Ithra on the Creative Solutions Program, and I look forward to mentoring and collaborating with the talented locals across the region, as part of this series.”
Chris Brown is the senior project manager for the Centre for Immersive Technologies at the University of Leeds - a world leading institution in England, which is at the forefront of research into immersive technologies and how they can benefit both society and industry. The institution’s research themes cuts across all the university’s faculties, and capture the synergies between data science, artificial intelligence and immersive technologies, termed the “digital triangle”. Through the center, Chris has overseen large scale immersive projects within the fields of culture, education, gaming, healthcare and human-centered design.“Immersive technologies are set to revolutionize every aspect of our lives, transforming how we live, work and play. At the Centre for Immersive Technologies we work across a range of disciplines, to help individuals and organizations realize the huge potential of use immersive technologies and we believe that the Creative Solutions program at Ithra promises to be a ground-breaking opportunity to drive the Kingdom’s creative sector. If you have an innovative idea for using immersive technologies then this is an opportunity not to be missed.”
Daniel Colaianni is the Chief Executive of the Academy of International Extended Reality, a not-for-profit membership body dedicated to supporting companies grow using virtual and augmented reality and actively accelerating the immersive industry. Daniel built and leads an executive board made up of Facebook, Disney, Microsoft, Google, Boeing and more, to steer and execute global initiatives and strategies aimed at supporting growth within immersive enterprises. Starting from the young age of just 16, organizing events sponsored by Amazon, Unity and more, as a college dropout, Daniel later exited from a self-built marketing agency after 3 years of strategizing and managing complex marketing campaigns for national UK brands. Focusing full time on VR & AR, Daniel has since built the largest internationally recognized award show for the immersive industry, sits on various committees advising companies on “XR” and has amassed a network of over 6,000 individuals and companies working daily with the technology.“AIXR is proud to be a partner of Ithra's Creative Solutions Program. The Kingdom has huge, untapped potential for immersive technologies, and through this first-of-its-kind program for Saudi Arabia, AIXR is excited to be supporting those beginning their journey into extended reality. This is an opportunity to learn, develop and prototype for an emerging $45 Billion industry, making it more important than ever to get involved today.”
Alannah Wesley is head of client services for The Department, the world’s first immersive agency, creating 360-degree, multisensory brand experiences. As part of the company’s leadership team, Wesley works all over the world, bringing immersive experiences to new markets, audiences and industries. Her work pushes boundaries in creative advertising and storytelling; be that for the Opening of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, to launching the experience center for Neom, Saudi Arabia’s sustainable destination of the future. Wesley leads the UK’s first immersive thought-leadership series: Immersive Futures, where creative and technology experts, investors and marketeers, debate the future and possibilities of immersive storytelling experiences. Since COVID-19, how we continue to bring audiences and communities together, lies at the heart of exploring what is next for both our industry and society. Prior to joining The Department, Wesley spent two years in the Middle East, where she launched INTERSECT by Lexus, the UAE’s first member’s club, connecting brand, lifestyle and hospitality.“Creative Solutions is breaking new ground in the region, providing a unique and inspiring platform for participants to develop their skills and showcase new possibilities in XR storytelling. Ithra is on a mission to empower and support Saudi’s creative community, and The Department are honored to be part of this next chapter.”
Vicki Dobbs Beck is the Executive in Charge of ILMxLAB, a division launched by Lucasfilm in 2015 to pioneer in the field of immersive storytelling. ILMxLAB wants to make it possible for people to “Step Inside Our Stories.” The division brings together storytellers, world builders, dreamers and wizards to create a new era of premium, state-of-the-art entertainment experiences that leverage real-time technology. In doing so, ILMxLAB seeks to transition from story-telling to story-living. Under Vicki’s leadership, ILMxLAB created the ground-breaking VR installation, Carne y Arena, which was the vision of Alejandro Iñárritu in association with Legendary Entertainment and Fondazione Prada. Carne y Arena was chosen as the first-ever VR Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival (2017) and was awarded a special Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences “in recognition of a visionary and powerful experience in storytelling.” In addition to producing multiple promotional VR experiences supporting major film releases and experiments in “all shades of reality,” ILMxLAB has collaborated with the VOID to develop and produce the award-winning hyper-reality experience, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, as well as the recently launched Ralph Breaks VR. Currently, ILMxLAB is in production on an original episodic VR story series: Vader Immortal. "Emerging technologies like VR and AR are enabling a renaissance of creative opportunity. I encourage you to imagine the possibilities and bring dreams to life by applying your vision to the Creative Solutions Program.”
Prototype funding – up to 75,000 SAR to develop an immersive proof-of-concept prototype and supporting material.
Masterclasses on relevant topics to support skills development and idea development towards prototype stage.
Lab Infrastructure – for the duration of the program, participants will have access to a state of the art extended realities lab in the Idea Lab facilities in Ithra.
Peer to peer learning – part of a cohort of up to 30 talented creators from across the creative and technology sectors.
Business expertise – support network of industry experts, high caliber peers and commissioning bodies to help develop impactful experiences and build new business models.
Mentorship with experts
Demo Day – Opportunity to participate, pitch and host private demos and meetings with key stakeholders that can support further development and opportunities.
International boot camp (for the selected five ideas/projects)
Creative Solutions launch event: February 23, 2021
Registration period: February 23rd – May 8, 2021
Masterclasses: May – July 2021
International boot camp: August
Prototyping development phase: August – November 2021
Creative Solutions demo day event: December 16–18, 2021
*Timelines are approximate and can be subject to change
Complete the full application form
What information we ask for in the application form:
The criteria will be presented as statements. Each of the criteria has equal weight.
The judges will respond by indicating how strongly they accept these statements.
Strength of the idea: The idea is ambitious, well-developed, demonstrates strong vision and application.
Originality of the idea: The idea is out of the box and likely to push boundaries for immersive content.
Functionality: The idea will be well represented through the end prototype.
Suitability/relevance: The idea described uses suitable immersive technology and promises a good benchmark. The idea is also likely to be suitable for further funding opportunities.
Feasibility of prototype delivery: The delivery of the proposal is clear and achievable within the time frame and budget.
Potential to reach a chosen target audience: The proposal shows a good understanding of a clearly identified target audience and their distinctive characteristics.
The participants will be able to choose if they will attend the masterclasses in person or virtually. The Creative Solutions program is designed to be delivered in a hybrid way. For those who still want to come to the masterclass, if happening physically at the center, then the program will cover the costs.