AIR building, Falmouth University
Photo Credit: AIR Building, Falmouth University

Falmouth University

Research at Falmouth is organised under the three overarching themes of Smart Design; Digital Games; and Creative Connected Communities, which are outlined below. We welcome applications to the 3D3 funding scheme from students wanting to undertake practice-led PhD research which explores the possibilities and challenges presented by rapidly evolving technologies.

Centre for Smart Design

Vision:  The Centre for Smart Design will address societal grand challenges such as climate change, energy security, an ageing society, and health and wellbeing.The Centre will engage in these grand challenges by undertaking design led research and innovation projects to realise novel low-carbon technologies, products and services. Projects will explore the integration of smart technologies, digital platforms, and sustainable design principles. The research will address key sectors that meet human needs, such as the Built Environment, Energy, Transportation and eHealth and Wellbeing.In addressing its research and innovation challenges the Centre aims to develop regional, national and international collaborations and partnerships that support new global markets. These initiatives aim to deliver social benefits, economic growth and knowledge based employment in Cornwall and beyond.
A key objective for the Centre is to build a collaborative research and innovation environment. Projects are to be developed, realised and exploited in partnership with growth businesses and through the creation of new start-up businesses.

Collaboration and partnership

Smart Design will work with growth businesses in long term engagements to jointly research and develop new products and services to ensure that these opportunities are brought to a near market readiness. Research projects with firms will go through a highly selective process including due diligence and assessments to ensure the project is scalable, has Intellectual Property (IP) generation potential and the company has a desire to grow and target global markets. Intellectual property arising from these research collaborations will be protected. The Centre will aim to engage expert advice on patents, trademarks, design rights, trade secrets, copyright and brand protection to support the exploitation process.


Where appropriate, partnerships between the University and commercial entities will be realised based on the exploitation of IP. Route to market will take different forms such as design licences, the creation of new start-ups, and joint ventures.

Innovation bridge

A key ‘offer’ of the Centre is that it provides an ‘innovation bridge’ to enable companies and startups to develop their ideas into meaningful business opportunities. The companies gain a design research and innovation capacity that is generally beyond their in house capabilities or resources. The Centre gains great insights from the knowledge, networks and market expertise of the companies. In forging these partnerships market led design research will lead to new innovations in the identified sectors. At a practical level research and innovation activities will involve:

  • The integration of low carbon products, ICT platforms and software apps.
  • Developing ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT/Physical Web) solutions with company partners.
  • Researching, developing, prototyping and testing IoT solutions towards market readiness.

In developing this applied research agenda the Centre for Smart Design will provide essential support to companies in the form of high value research and access to prototyping and development facilities. Firms will collaborate with designers who can unlock innovation in the company, and benefit from business support tools to protect IP and to help facilitate exploitation. The Centre’s approach is especially important in Cornwall, as there is a high proportion of micro- businesses (and start-ups) that are typically constrained by their size and lack of resource to take new product-service innovations to market. This can be a very costly and disruptive process. Addressing this ‘development void’ and the lack of available skills is a key driver in translating research and novel innovations into business growth.


An aim for the Centre is to established Falmouth University as an ‘anchor’ in the region for Smart Design and stimulate business clusters and market led startups and incubation around this specialism.

Funding sources

Lobster Grower 2 – Assessing the technical, economic and environmental potentional for a novel candidate aquaculture industry.


A Collaborative Project involving The National Lobster Hatchery; University of Exeter; West Country Mussels of Fowey; Centre for environment, fisheries and aquaculture science; Falmouth University.


• BBSRC Grant Ref: BB/N015371/1
• IUK Application Ref: 54542 – 402174
• Total value £3M, Falmouth University value £194K

For further information about the Centre for Smart Design at Falmouth, please contact

Centre for Digital Games

Vision:  Our aim is for the Centre for Digital Games to become a world-renowned research hub focusing on video games as forms of art and culture and the advancement of games through Artificial Intelligence technologies. In particular, we see games as one of the most important cultural forms of the twenty-first century. We undertake research which highlights contribution that games make to culture and how they compare and contrast with other cultural forms such as film, literature, the visual and performing arts.
We also have a strong technological focus within the centre, with expertise in various areas of Artificial Intelligence and game design. We are particularly interested in researching Computational Creativity, where software takes on certain creative responsibilities in art and science projects.  With respect to games, this ranges from cutting edge procedural content generation techniques, to the automatic generation of entire video games, and throws up a range of philosophical issues such as how to get software to be subjective and intentional.We are working towards the democratisation of game design through advanced AI techniques which work as creative collaborators with people to bring down difficult barriers to the design of games. The MetaMakers Institute ( is a research group within the Centre for Digital Games.  Funded with EPSRC and European Commission research grants, we are building software prototypes which will be tested in scientific, artistic and commercial ways. In particular, we plan to commercialise our work in order to build a sustainable research fund directly from sales of our software and games to the public.We are part of the Digital Creativity Next-Step Digital Economy Hub funded by the EPSRC (, and we work closely with partners at the University of York, Goldsmiths College and Cass Business School.  This hub is supported by more than 80 creative industry partners who have pledged time, expertise and funding to collaborative projects of benefit to creative industry firms.We aim to work with games and other creative industry firms in Cornwall and across the country to drive forward technological solutions to the problems this sector faces.

Potential research areas

We would welcome PhD applications in areas which are in the scope of the Centre for Digital Games. Such areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Games Design
  • Game Studies
  • Games and Art
  • The cultural analysis of Games
  • Games as Fiction
  • Games and Transmediality/Adaptation
  • Games and Critical Theory
  • Practice-based Games research
  • The analysis of Game Media forms

Aspects of automating game design. In particular, we are interested in modelling imaginative reasoning leading to ideas for games, and there is an opportunity to link with the EC-funded WHIM project ( which focuses on automating fictional ideation.


AI techniques for automated game playing. Modern successes with Monte-Carlo Tree Search methods have led to AI opponents which can play certain games at human (and super-human) levels. However, there is much scope for using such techniques to build more fun/engaging players, or to play games with dynamic real-time aspects, and opportunities to study the application of new methods such as deep learning to such tasks. We are particularly interested in constructing automated game players to test automatically generated games, in order to increase the quality of the output.


Democratisation of game design. We are interested in building tools which help people with little technological background to design games, particularly on hand-held devices. Such tools would necessarily require strong generative skills and would lead to questions of trust and collaboration in Computational Creativity research. We would like to extend this to study how tools can be built which help would-be game designers who are held back by physical disability.


Funding sources

We are funded by grants from the European Commission and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). In particular, we hold an FP7 ERA Chair, project entitled GRO – Games Research Opportunities and Research Excellence in Falmouth, project number 621403 (€2.4m). We also hold an EPSRC Leadership Fellowship, project number EP/J004049 (£1m), and are part of the new EPSRC Digital Creativity Hub, project number EP/M023265 (£4m), which is joint with the University of York, Goldsmiths College and Cass Business School. In addition, we have recently won a £10k competition for “Telling Tales of Engagement”, which we will be using on the ANGELINA project.

For further information about the Centre for Digital Economy/ Digital Games at Falmouth, please contact Prof. Simon Colton:

Creative Connected Communities

Vision: Projects in the Creative Connected Communities research theme explore how challenges faced by communities in Cornwall, across the UK, and around the world can be addressed through creativity and the arts.


Many of the major challenges for society today are experienced first at a local level, from access to high quality education and healthcare, to social integration, to environmental change.


Creativity and the arts have long played important roles in shaping solutions to societal challenges, and at Falmouth our research explores how advances in education, health and wellbeing, societal cohesion, environmental awareness and an enabling economy can be achieved through creative thinking and the arts.  Creative Connected Communities provides a thematic framework for 3D3 doctoral research projects that explore interfaces between new technologies, digital processes and traditional methods in creating communities and sustainable networks for social, environmental, economic, arts and cultural innovation.


In Creative Connected Communities we have an established research presence and have secured external funds in a range of areas in projects as varied as: Online Orchestra, Beside the Ocean of Time, The Boat Project, Mutual Recovery, Aspect, and University of the Village.  We welcome proposals for practice-led doctoral research projects in areas including, but not limited to:


• telematic/ network performance and education

• creative and technological methods for supporting health and social care

• creative approaches to environmental sustainability

• the arts as a means of supporting and enabling diversity and inclusivity


Creative Connected Communities partners include:



For further information on the Creative Connected Communities research theme, please contact Prof. Michael Rofe: