XPLOR, the world’s first research and innovation centre for entertainment technology and production, scooped up this year’s Innovation Award at the recent Educate North Awards, which celebrate excellence in the education sector in the North.

The Innovation Award recognises original and creative initiatives in the sector which not only enhance the reputation of the institution, but also contribute to the UK economy.

XPLOR was launched in 2019 and is the research arm of Backstage Academy, a higher education institution specialising in the live events and creative industries. Located on Production Park, the UK’s premier live events, film, and TV campus, XPLOR drives experimentation and disruptive growth in the vital live entertainment industries.

Commenting on receiving the award, Jim Farmery, development director at XPLOR, said: “We are immensely proud to be honoured with the Educate North Innovation Award. We see this recognition as validation of the work we are doing, in driving research excellence and supporting growth in the creative industries, helping to strengthen the North’s economy and its reputation as a leading destination for live events innovation.”

“Backstage Academy students are at the heart of XPLOR’s innovation cycle, gaining phenomenal skills and industry experience. Our XR Studio Executive is a recent Backstage Academy graduate and our technical team regularly collaborate with current students to produce astounding mixed-reality content in our Centre for Virtual Production. We have also supported more than 40 regional SMEs to date.”

XPLOR has been involved in several collaborations with Backstage students, including Wakefield’s ‘Light Up 2021’, where students contributed towards a successful event that brought thousands of visitors to the city. It also participated in the MediaCityUK Lightwaves festival in December 2021, where more than 400,000 visitors explored the 10-day Salford Quays trail of illuminations.

Specialising in collective problem solving and pioneering research and development, XPLOR offers a range of bespoke services for clients including technical consultancy, project management and networking, with core capabilities in concept & product design, software controls & automation, prototyping, testing and virtual production. The project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).