Queen’s University scientists partner with GBBO star for festival bid

The Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s University Belfast has joined forces with Belfast-born Great British Bake Off star Andrew Smyth to bid for a place in a UK-wide festival celebrating arts and scientific creativity.

The IGFS-led consortium has been shortlisted for the next stage of the Festival UK 2022 competition, being one of just 30 successful bids, whittled down from almost 300.

The team comprises:

  • Food scientist Prof. Chris Elliott OBE; Behavioural psychologist Prof. Moira Dean and International Events Co-ordinator Tomas Bamford from IGFS;
  • Jamie Oliver’s team, including producer Greg Burke and chief content officer Zoe Collins;
  • Northern Ireland-born aerospace engineer, TV presenter and baker, Andrew Smyth;
  • TV producer and marketing chief executive Martin Lowde, who has worked on The X Factor, American Idol and Spice Girls tours;
  • Dr. Jane Ali-Knight, Professor in Festival and Event Management at Edinburgh Napier University; and
  • Daniel Bernstein and Amaya Jeyarajah Dent, from Emergency Exit Arts, one of the country’s longest-running, outdoor arts organisations.

Getting through to the research and development stage now gives the team the opportunity to develop concepts and ideas that could manifest in a celebration of food, food science and all things culinary.

Together, the 30 shortlisted teams are made up of 22 UK-wide collaborations, with two each from Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.

They bring together more than 500 organisations and individuals, from both private and public sector, including freelancers and emerging talent, with many working together for the first time.

Teams are drawn from the worlds of science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (‘STEAM’) – including artists; scientists; technologists; engineers; mathematicians; choreographers; coders; gamers; musicians; theatre-makers; and writers.

Festival UK 2022

Festival UK 2022 is backed by the four UK governments with £120 million of new investment and aims to bring together scientific and artistic fields to celebrate the UK’s creativity and innovation.

It’s been designed to stimulate hard-hit economies and the arts sector with a series of 10 public-engagement projects running throughout 2022. They may be live, or digital, but probably both, as the project as a whole seeks to reach 66 million people worldwide.

The final 10 pitches will be selected after each creative team presents to a panel in February 2021 with the full festival programme announced later next year. In the meantime, all 30 shortlisted groups have been awarded £100,000 each to develop their bids.

Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey said: “We feel excited and privileged to be part of Festival UK* 2022 and be in a position to showcase Northern Ireland’s creativity and innovation on a worldwide stage.

“We’re known for being a nation full of talent, creativity, ability and optimism; and this is a fantastic opportunity to bring creatives together with our illustrious scientific, technological, engineering, arts and mathematical minds to come up with truly unique and innovative ideas.”

Festival chief executive Martin Green said: “Festival UK 2022 is a massive experiment in creativity with the core values of being open, original and optimistic, and encouraging teams to think big.

It’s wonderful that so many brilliant people, offering extraordinary creativity across STEAM, want to collaborate beyond their usual disciplines and with people they might not have worked with before.

“It hasn’t been an easy selection process, so we’re really pleased to hear that some new creative relationships will continue amongst those who were not chosen, as well as being excited to see what the 30 creative teams come up with over the next couple of months.”