New UK National Centre for Digital Heritage Centre to be established in Liverpool City Region following landmark AHRC funding as part of the government’s World Class Laboratory initiative.
The Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) of the University of Liverpool has been awarded funding to establish the UK’s first National Centre for Digital Heritage Research. The Centre will be at VEC’s Sci-Tech Daresbury base in the Liverpool City Region. The Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology announced the £1 million project as one of three national projects funded under its World Class Laboratories Fund that aims to make the UK a global leader in heritage research, conservation and SME enterprise.
The VEC’s Head of Digital Industrialisation, Dr Konstantin Vikhorev explains:
“Digital heritage is the use of digital technology to improve the understanding and preservation of cultural and natural heritage. The new centre builds on the VEC’s 13-year history of leading Digital Transformation across many different industries and will provide access to cutting-edge facilities that will pioneer a new approach to preserving, promoting and progressing cultural heritage through technologies such as AI, Blockchain and the Metaverse”.
The £912,000 award from AHRC CResCa Funding creates a globally leading, national home for state-of-the-art technology and expertise. It is a paradigm shift for heritage research, bringing together researchers, practitioners, and entrepreneurs from across the world.
The award builds on the success of the first National Digital Heritage Symposium, hosted by the VEC in partnership with St George’s Hall Liverpool City Council last year under the ERDF-funded LCR4.0 Holistic Project. The vision is to make Liverpool a global leader in not only heritage research and preservation but enterprise and entrepreneurship to create a digital heritage ecosystem and strategy for the Liverpool City Region.
Dr Konstantin Vikhorev adds:
“The award equips the VEC to build on the legacy of the symposium to deliver impactful projects for many years to come, enabling us to support the digital preservation of the region’s priceless heritage assets and work with our heritage partners to:
• Contribute to the creation of a more sustainable, inclusive and innovative UK heritage ecosystem
• Showcase heritage across Liverpool and the North West to wider networks (e.g., students, local business, industry leaders, heritage stakeholders)
• Support collaborative projects to improve the heritage economy, preservation and engagement
• Create impactful digital twins and immersive VR exhibitions
The new Centre aims to make Liverpool a global leader in digital heritage research and preservation as well as enterprise and entrepreneurship creating a digital heritage ecosystem and strategy for the Liverpool City Region.
Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair of the AHRC says:
“The Creative Research Capability awards (CResCa) continue AHRC’s commitment to supporting world class facilities, equipment and digital research. Building on the success of Capability for Collections (CapCo), CResCa has allowed us to expand our World Class Labs portfolio to include practice-based research, and to assist smaller, specialised institutions to build on existing excellence and unlock their enormous potential for innovation.
‘The University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) contributes to an ecosystem that is making the U.K. a world leader in digital heritage. It plays a key role in supporting the digital heritage locally in the Liverpool City region. AHRC is delighted to support a project that, in partnership with Liverpool City Council, will equip the VEC to deliver impactful collaborative projects and support Liverpool’s heritage economy for years to come.’
The award builds on the success of the first National Digital Heritage Symposium, hosted by the VEC and Co-Investigator Professor Elizabeth Maitland from the Management School in partnership with St George’s Hall Liverpool City Council last year under the ERDF-funded LCR4.0 Holistic Project.
The project was developed in partnership with the Virtual Engineering Centre,
the City of Liverpool Head of Heritage Preservation and Development, Alan Smith and Professor Elizabeth Maitland, Chair of International Business with the University of Liverpool’s Management School.
It is funded with a grant of £912,000 award from AHRC CResCa as part of a £103 million investment by UKRI to expand and upgrade the UK’s world class research infrastructure, including digital infrastructure.