A multi award-winning Sheffield creative agency is transforming the way in which we can interact with our surroundings after becoming one of the first companies in the region to secure funding through the South Yorkshire Digital Innovation Grant scheme.

Diva Creative, based at The Workstation, drew on inspiration from the success of augmented reality games such as Pokemon Go to explore new ways to experience places with great stories at their heart. Using time during lockdown to perfect the concept, Diva launched GeoStories, where individuals can experience a story at a location, along with Augmented Reality and audio content.

GeoStories uses smartphone technology to create interactive guided experiences using GPS triggers. People experience dramas associated with locations, drawing on the lives of the people who lived there and points of interest. The initial prototype was based in Whitby and drew on the visit to Whitby by Bram Stoker, author of the classic gothic novel Dracula, bringing the tale and its connections with the Yorkshire fishing town to life.

In addition to being a great storytelling tool, accessible via an app, the team recognised strong potential for the GeoStories concept and its future development. To seek support to progress the project, the company submitted an application to the South Yorkshire Digital Innovation Grant scheme to secure the vital funds needed to secure a consultant specialising in emerging technologies to develop the project.

The GeoStories app now available on App Store and Google Play featuring a new story – Chronicles of the Bakewell Witches. The team are working on producing new stories as well as developing a story building platform with gamification and moving image.

Amanda Pearce, director, Diva Creative said: “Storytelling is at the very heart of the way we communicate with others. We recognised that combining emerging tech such as augmented reality with GPS and features such as 360 video offer new, exciting immersive ways of engaging and entertaining consumers.

“After nearly two years of research and development we are ready to bring the product to market, and the funds provided by the Digital Innovation Grant really supported us on our journey. We are now investment ready and are in talks with a number of potential partners, with the potential for spin out.”

Anna Smith, programme manager, South Yorkshire Digital Innovation Grant scheme, said: “Diva Creative was one of the first companies in the region to benefit from the Digital Innovation Grant scheme and a terrific example that illustrates how businesses can embrace digital technology to stimulate economic growth and drive positive change. The work they have undertaken shows some of the truly innovative work being delivered by businesses across South Yorkshire, helping them to exploit the potential offered by new and emerging technology.

“Their unique Geostories concept is likely to help the business enter into new markets, whilst the platform has the potential to make bleeding edge technology more accessible to those working in the creative and cultural industries, which offers the potential for many areas of the UK to celebrate the very things that make them unique.

"The work being developed by Diva is truly innovative and will not only help the company to expand but will also help to support the broader creative and cultural industries by creating a platform to showcase their work.”

Launched in 2000, Diva Creative specialises in producing thought-provoking, ethical campaigns, designed to bring about positive social change. The company works with organisations across the UK and counts the Department for Education, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Children’s Commissioner amongst its client base.

The Digital Innovation Grant scheme was launched in July 2021 and helps SME businesses across South Yorkshire to access match-funded grants to help them embrace new ways of working to improve productivity and growth and enter new markets.

The programme funds up to 50% of projects with costs totalling £2,000-£10,000. It is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is delivered across South Yorkshire by Enterprising Barnsley, part of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

About the Digital Innovation Grant Scheme
The Digital Innovation Grant (DIG) programme supports small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in South Yorkshire to develop their use of digital technology. By exploiting the digital technologies, businesses can access new markets, introduce new products and services more effectively and develop new cost-effective ways of working.

The scheme will enhance the digital capabilities of SMEs by raising the confidence of SMEs in using digital technology and will support them to increase their levels of productivity and competitiveness to achieve business growth.

DIG will be delivered through a competitive process, rather than first come first served. Following a call for applications, completed applications will be assessed for eligibility then ranked according to a number of economic and inclusive growth indicators. The grant funding will be available for up to 50% of the value of an investment, with a minimum award of £1,000 up to a maximum of £5,000.

Applicants will apply via a web portal that will manage the process from start to finish and give clarity to both the applicants and BMBC, allowing all parties to see where each application is in the process and its current status.