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NESTA Futurelab launched

Press release issued: 10 December 2001

NESTA Futurelab launched

A blue skies laboratory - the NESTA Futurelab - which aims to transform the way people learn by using new and emerging technologies, was launched in Bristol last night by NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts).

NESTA Futurelab, set up with £3 million from the Department for Education and Skills, will create imaginative and compelling prototypes of learning software and services based on interactive digital technology. It aims to help the UK become the world leader in this field, harnessing creative talent and making a major contribution to the nation's commercial success.

Ground-breaking new products will boost independent creative learning in and out of the classroom for a range of students, from primary school pupils to lifelong learners. Teachers will become more effective and parents will be able to link more closely with their children's learning.

Education and Skills Secretary Estelle Morris, Dr Kim Howells MP, Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting, NESTA's Chair, Lord Puttnam of Queensgate and key figures from education and the games industry gathered last night at the science centre, Explore @ Bristol, for the launch of the project.

A consortium, led by Bristol University, won a nationwide bid to host NESTA Futurelab and was selected from 14 potential sites from around the UK. The consortium will be based at the Watershed Media Centre, a riverfront location in the centre of the city.

Estelle Morris said: "One of the real challenges for education is how we can use ICT to transform teaching and learning. It has the capacity to allow teachers to tailor education to the needs of each individual child whatever their ability or need. NESTA Futurelab is at the forefront of these developments.

Kim Howells adds: "NESTA Futurelab is a creative driving force. It will enable the UK to seize every opportunity to build on our reputation for innovation and to ensure the creative industries continue to make a significant contribution to the economy and the quality of our lives. I congratulate NESTA for having the vision and the drive to bring us to where we are today."

Lord Puttnam said: "NESTA Futurelab is a timely initiative, ideally positioned to seize the huge opportunities created by digital technology and deliver real education benefit. It will look five years or more ahead - few large publishers can devote significant resources to doing this and small and medium sized enterprises cannot wait that long for a return. NESTA will be a catalyst in this field."

Martin Freeth, chief executive of NESTA Futurelab, concludes: "The compelling power of interactive and participative games online can be used to enhance learning, responding to individual styles, just as games do. This will strengthen the powers of teachers and trainers and bring many currently excluded people back into education. We intend to turn NESTA Futurelab and the UK into a vibrant, imaginative Hollywood of Education. I am delighted to be leading a strong, experienced core team which has recently been appointed - details are in the 'Who's Who' booklet available this evening."

NESTA Futurelab will be a facilitator, inviting proposals from individuals and organisations that have the inspiration and experience to produce educational prototypes and services. But NESTA believes that to succeed, NESTA Futurelab needs to find ways of working in partnership with institutions and companies around the UK and internationally.

About 30 core staff will be based in the Bristol Media Centre, working alongside researchers from Bristol University's computer science team and other staff seconded from the industry and education.

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Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Monday, 10-Dec-2001 10:32:05 GMT

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