AmbITion North West Roadshow – 4iP Workshop

This is a live blog of the AmbITion Roadshow North West  event at the NOVAS Contemporary Urban Centre, Liverpool.  If you spot any errors or inaccuracies or would simply like to contribute to the conversation, leave us a comment!

Presented by Steve Manthorp who is sharing about 4iP.

Steve creates games for the education sector but also consults.  Has been involved with Sheffield’s Melt and other innovation hub–type events.

What does 4iP stand for?
(Channel) 4 Innovation for the Public
An innovation fund intended to stimulate public service digital media across the UK
Work with regional partners
Initial fund £20 million, to grow to £50 million over the next few years.

What will 4iP fund?
Public service digital media
Profit as well as non-profit sometimes taking equity
Development/prototype funding ip to £10k for innovative interactive media

Not averse to projects that successfully win prototype funding returning for further funding.

“will amplify existing products so they deliver wait more impact”

Not going to be funding just ‘marketing campaigns’

Strong regional commitment – Glasgow, Birmingham, Sheffield and one more I missed.

Partnerships with regional development agencies (RDAs) and screen agencies.

To qualify as a regional partner there are three criteria:

–    Substantive business and production based in regional partnership regions

–    70% of production budget spent in regional partnership region

–    50% of production talent must be employed in regional partnership region

Matched funding provided by RDAs if you partner with a company in a 4iP-covered region.

You can apply from anywhere.

North West region unlikely to be one of the regional partners in the future.

What won’t 4iP fund?
Not a TV fund – it’s not about making TV shows
Won’t fund Channel 4’s core brand
Won’t support projects on an ongoing basis.

Assessment criteria
Will it deliver 4’s public purposes?
–    To nuture new talent and original ideas
–    To champion alternative voices and fresh perspectives
–    To challenge people to see the world differently
–    To inspire change in people’s lives

Really interested in projects around political and societal change.

Will it stir things up in 4-like fashion?
–    Do it first
–    Make trouble
–    Inspire change

“If Channel 4 hasn’t been in trouble by the end of a season, they must be doing something wrong.”

Does it meet a user need?  Does it scratch an important itch?  Want to see digital interventions created which actually serve a function.

Is it 100% native to digital networks, with it’s centre of gravity in participation or collaboration?

Something that arises out of the opportunities that digital media provide.  Very important that the projects allow people to work together.

The opportunity for arts organisations to work with ‘digital’ ones growing.

Can it thrive without ongoing financial support from 4iP?

The entrepreneurial remit of the RDAs increasingly imposing itself on 4iP.

Can it thrive without ongoing TV support?

Particular emphases:
Hidden gems: helping people discover stuff which could change their lives

Digital Democracy: new ways to let everyone keep an eye on money and power

Amplifying voices: new ways to empower those communities that media could never previously reach.  Key emphasis: allowing communities engage with power

Wise crowds: connecting people who need to know stuff with people who know it already

Tools to make trouble: developing disruptive media tools then putting them in the hands of the people that need it the most.

How To Apply
Register at
Complete 6 boxes:

  • Working title
  • Elevator pitch
  • Needs (user need, not your own)
  • Approach
  • Competition

Important: Expect to see an honest assessment and bit of research on anything else that is like what you’re doing. Profoundly knowledgeably assessing applications.  Will know if something has been done before.
Arts organisations have the potential to create something new

  • Region

Your region doesn’t preclude you from applying

Don’t expect a simple yes or no…
There is a post-application process

  • Develop Case file
  • Possibly with some development funding
  • Identify partners and co-funders
  • Compliance and contracting
  • Commissioning

Channel 4 work to provide collaborative partners and can provide funding for proof-of-concept projects.

With profit making projects, Channel 4 would like to see potential for ROI and this will be negotiated.

Why proposals fail

Most do fail
Don’t research and acknowledge competition
Fail to reflect Channel 4’s values
Aren’t founded upon collaboration and participation

On your application, demonstrate a fit with 4’s core values.

Projects that don’t allow people to use these tools to work together fail.

What has been funded so far?


Free iPhone application
Audio microblogging
Audio equivalent of Twitter

Allows you to upload audio recordings from your iPhone. Google Maps mashup allows you to integrate audio boos with geographical location.

“Twitter with noise, essentially.”

Used at G20 riots.

Exemplary projects

CrowdSpring – rather than commissioning an agency to design a competition, use this.  Allow anyone to put out a competition call for something.
Get a wide range of design solutions to one problem.

ImaginationCubed – allows Macs to do Microsoft’s Net Waiting

Evernote – transferral sticky post its between PDAs

Who’s who

Ewan McIntiosh, Digital Commissioning Manager, Scotland and Ireland
Claire Hancock
Daniel Heaf
Lucy Wurslin

Questions from the floor:

Q: What are the timescales for submissions?

A: they do have timescales but intentionally open and vague.  Initial feedback within 8 weeks.

Q:  Does it have to be online?  Or mobile? Audioboo is an iPhone app with a web interface.

A: Digitality is what’s important. Will also support games.

As an example:
Steve thinks they could sponsor ‘objects for social change’, i.e. telephone booths connected in some way digitally.  Doesn’t think they’ll support free standing arts objects though.

Steve has asked the attendees of the masterclass to get together in small groups with people they don’t know to come up with a potential 4iP proposal.

Room breaks up into 4 groups of 3 attendees, some meeting each other first time.  A small hum bubbles up as different teams start brainstorming ideas.

They are given 15 minutes to develop an innovative 4iP proposal and a 1 minute elevator pitch.   Team must nominate a spokesperson.

Innovative participatory element added to proceedings.  Look forward to hearing what people come up with.

Here they come!

Idea #1: Community Curation – mobile phone app linked to website and public screen.

Sense of play, sense of place

Public voting for works of arts and spaces

Magic of it: public screen that would change as people interacted with it by mobile phone.

Idea #2: Portable Pixel Playground

An adventure with interaction with a physical and digital thing in a physical object.  A series of digital and physical objects.

Idea #3: they actually have a diagram! Couldn’t see it from where I was sat though.  “The evolution from desktop to iPods to iTops.”

iTop – an application that allows you to connect remotely your desktop using your iPod.  Project your desktop onto a screen from one end and simultaneously project your desktop from the other end.   Probably needs holographic technology (I think).

Idea #4: have a space for free speech for for like-minded professionals.   You can register but after registration you remain anonymous.

Which idea do you think was the best?

Leave us a comment!

Next up: Own It’s Intellectual Property workshop.


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