New institute shines a light on creativity and culture

Liz Moran and Catherine Richardson, ICCI co-directors

It’s an exciting time to be part of the University’s new Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (ICCI). The Institute is one of three key projects within our Kent 2025 strategy and an important element in our engagement, impact and civic mission. Our first few months setting up the Institute suggest that it will bring a very distinctive kind of teaching and research culture to our University.

Cultural and Creative industries are the fastest growing area of the UK economy, contributing over £100 billion GVA in 2018. This is expected to grow to £128 billion by 2025 and to generate one million new jobs by 2030. Our research, teaching, impact and engagement in this area are already strong, and we see the Institute’s role as bringing these elements together, making it as easy as possible to teach and research collaboratively, ensuring close connections to industry, and celebrating the work our staff and students do very loudly, both internally and externally. As a university, we have the opportunity to do thing something exciting and ground-breaking.

The Institute has two Directors – a Partnerships Director, Liz Moran, and an Academic Director, Catherine Richardson (pictured left to right above). That outward and inward view and collaborative approach is at the heart of its ethos. Our Deputy Director, Caroline Li, leads on internationalisation and cutting-edge creative technologies.

Liz: ‘My role within the Institute is to develop new and existing partnerships to support our teaching and research and to develop our civic engagement and strategic leadership role in the South East. In my roles as Director of Gulbenkian, and more recently as Director of Arts and Culture, I have been fortunate to have developed a wide range of cultural and creative partnerships with both local and national stakeholders, artists and industry. This has included commissioning work by innovative artists working with cutting-edge technology and facilitating a Memorandum of Understanding between the University and Arts Council England.

‘We were recently awarded £4.3 million to lead a range of partners to invest in creative, cultural and heritage initiatives that support culture-led economic growth and productivity. The Institute offers a unique opportunity to develop new partnerships, in particular with industry, to understand what we need to offer our students that is relevant and informing the future. We are also building close relationships with Arts Council England, Creative England, Creative Industries Federation, NESTA and the British Film Institute as well as creative businesses such as Dovetail Games, Dragon Studios and Bose.’

Catherine: ‘My time as Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the Humanities comes to an end soon, as the Divisions come into being, and I wanted to find a way of using the knowledge I’d built up through developing the research culture across schools, and beyond with initiatives like Eastern ARC (our collaboration with Essex and UEA). Most recently, the Associate Deans have been leading on Kent’s first Signature Research Themes, and that has given us a clear insight into our rich interdisciplinary culture, the energy and enthusiasm of our staff and their willingness to work together to address big questions.

‘In my work as a professor in the School of English, I’m very interested in exploring different ways of relating our teaching and our research to one another to the benefit of both. And that’s a key priority for me in this post, which offers the opportunity to approach the question in novel and productive ways within a vibrant and fast-moving area.’

ICCI will have these relationships, between research, teaching and industry, at its heart. Like our Medical School, our institute will look a little different. We are able to leverage the relationship between our world-leading research across science, social science and arts and humanities, and Kent’s naturally collaborative approach to interdisciplinary teaching, to forge a new kind of creative offer in both teaching and research.

Our aim is to connect creative arts and digital production to research analysis and business training, embedding the ‘fusion’ of creative, digital and entrepreneurial skills in everything we do uniquely equipping our students. We need to equip our students not only with essential skills, but also with a knowledge of and respect for the working practices of others within their sector for the porous, shifting career trajectories that they will face on graduation.

Over the next six months, we will be looking at the curriculum, exploring new kinds of interdisciplinary research, and clarifying and strengthening our industry links. We’ll be planning events on our campuses at Medway and Canterbury, and at our European centres. We know this is a fundamentally creative university across all areas of teaching, research and professional services, and we will need to harness that energy for the Institute’s success. So we’ll be in touch, but if you have ideas, thoughts or questions in the meantime, we would be delighted to hear from you…

Liz Moran and Professor Catherine Richardson
Co-Directors of the Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (ICCI)

Find out more on the ICCI website.


ICCI forms a key part of our Kent 2025 strategy, which outlines how we transform lives through opportunity, discovery and community. We aim to empower students to find and shape their place in the world, and for academics to be free to explore and deepen our understanding of it. Find out more at Kent 2025.