Founder of FutureEverything, Drew Hemment, awarded prestigious new position at Edinburgh Futures Institute

Drew Hemment, Founder of FutureEverything, has been appointed to a prestigious new post as a Chancellor’s Fellow at University of Edinburgh, where he will help to found the Edinburgh Futures Institute, assuming the role from October.

After 23 years in the role of FutureEverything Creative Director, Drew is moving to a strategic role on the FutureEverything Board, and handing the reins of Creative Director to the V&A’s Irini Papadimitriou.

Since founding FutureEverything in 1995, Drew has led the company and the development of its creative programmes. His work, at FutureEverything and beyond, has been covered by New York Times, BBC and NBC, and recognised in awards from the arts, technology and public sectors.

The new appointment comes at a busy time for Drew. In recent weeks, he has been a guest on Front Row, the BBC’s flagship culture show, and on BBC 6 Music. This month in Linz, Austria, he is receiving two awards, including an honorary mention in STARTS Prize 2018 for the Making Sense Toolkit, and a Golden Nica at Prix Ars Electronica 2018 as a part of the Leonardo community.

Edinburgh Futures Institute is a part of a £1B City Deal investment in data-driven innovation. It has the aim to harness the digital revolution for social benefit, and to connect to Edinburgh’s world famous festivals.

Professor Dorothy Miell, Vice-Principal, University of Edinburgh said, “I am delighted to announce Drew Hemment has been awarded a highly prestigious Chancellors Fellowship in data-driven innovation at the University of Edinburgh. As one of the key international figures who have shaped the emergence of digital culture across Europe, Drew is ideally placed to help realise our ambition, while connecting with the city’s festivals, through the work of the Edinburgh Futures Institute.”

Vikas Shah, Chair of the Board of Directors at FutureEverything also commented, “Drew has worked with cities and nations as an ambassador, representing the digital art and design sector. This includes the Singapore Government, for whom he was artistic director of the flagship digital culture programme of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Singapore, and Manchester, where Drew has been a key figure driving its digital renaissance over two decades. So there will be a lot of excitement and anticipation about what he will now accomplish in Edinburgh and beyond.”

Irini Papadimitriou, V&A’s Digital Programme Manager and Creative Director at FutureEverything from October, said, “Drew Hemment has been such a force of inspiration all these years. As a leader and founder of FutureEverything, he has accomplished astonishing work, engaging in digital culture and innovative work people from across the UK and beyond. I am thrilled for Drew’s exciting future endeavour and I look forward to continue getting inspired by him.”

Professor John Rowan, Vice-Principal, University of Dundee said: “Drew joined the University of Dundee in 2013 through the strategic Dundee Fellows Scheme to attract research stars from across the world. True to this mission he developed a series of large-scale international projects, including the award winning Making Sense and the GROW Observatory, which are shaping European policies on citizen sensing and environmental action. This builds on his work over two decades combining practice and research on digital culture and the arts. He will continue in a leadership role on the GROW Observatory, while moving on to exciting new opportunities at the University of Edinburgh. We wish him every success.”

Drew is moving on from his academic post at University of Dundee and the FutureEverything Creative Director role to take up the prestigious new post. He will continue a role on the GROW Observatory from Edinburgh.

Full details, from Edinburgh Futures Institute and University of Edinburgh, and an announcement from University of Dundee, will follow later this Autumn.

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Dr Drew Hemment

Drew is an artist, designer, curator and academic researcher. He has been one of the leading figures in Europe who has shaped the emergence of a digital culture. Over 20 years, his work on data art, futures and innovation has been covered by New York Times, BBC and NBC and recognised by awards from the arts, technology and business sectors, including STARTS Prize 2018 (Honorary Mention), Lever Prize 2010 (Winner) and Prix Ars Electronica 2008 (Honorary Mention).

Drew is presently helping to introduce human centred design, citizen engagement and art into the flagship IoT and Smart Cities programmes of the UK (CityVerve) and EU (IoT European Large-Scale Pilots Programme). In 2015, Drew was artistic director of the flagship digital culture programme of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Singapore, commissioned by the Singapore Government for the Singapore Smart Nation programme. He has championed openness and bottom-up innovation in cities for two decades, most recently through Making Sense (Horizon 2020). Drew leads (as Coordinator/PI) the GROW Observatory (Horizon 2020), a citizens’ observatory on soils, growing and a changing climate, with partners including UN, Met Office and the Permaculture Association.

Drew leads (as Coordinator/PI) the GROW Observatory (Horizon 2020), mobilising a Europe wide community around monitoring soil condition and a changing climate, with partners including UN, Met Office and the Permaculture Association.

Drew is Editorial Board member for Leonardo journal of art, science and technology, and participant in the Citizens’ Observatories Community Activity of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) which is leading a worldwide effort to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). He was a leadership role-model on a pilot leadership programme for the AHRC, and his research has resulted in new policy and infrastructure, such as DataGM (Greater Manchester Datastore).

Edinburgh Futures Institute

The aim of the Institute is to harness the digital revolution for social benefit. It will spark new connections, and will be where the University of Edinburgh’s world-class interdisciplinary expertise in social and data science, the arts, and humanities meets the external organisations that are tackling society’s most pressing needs. This multi-million pound investment will focus on three core sectors: public services (govtech), financial services (fintech), and festivals and creative industries (creativetech).

Chancellors Fellowships are highly prestigious opportunities for stunning researchers to plot a trajectory in data-enabled research and innovation applied to any discipline. University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top research-intensive universities. Our mission is to make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to the world.

The Institute will be housed in the former Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The reimagined space will provide a built environment which is predicated on encounter, co-production, and risk-taking. The motto inscribed in stone above the main entrance is: “Patet Omnibus” – it means “Open to All”.

About FutureEverything

Founded in Manchester in 1995 by Drew Hemment, FutureEverything is an award-winning innovation lab and cultural agency that has helped shape the emergence of digital culture in Europe. FutureEverything operates at the intersection of art, technology and society. Taking an artist-led and human-centred approach, our offer provides a unique opportunity to consider, challenge and test the use of technology in creative and unexpected ways.

Starting life as an annual festival of digital culture, FutureEverything has evolved into an innovation lab offering bespoke smart city, IoT and cultural services for governments, communities, startups and international organisations. Using art and experiences as a lens to help people reflect on and understand the world around them, together we deliver meaningful engagement through innovative art commissions, living labs, demos and public events, often in non-art domains.

Current activities include a landmark talent development and commissioning programme called Fault Lines and CREATE IoT (support action for the European IoT large scale pilots).