The University of Leeds has an international reputation for the cutting-edge research which its outstanding people and world-leading facilities generate.

Excellence in research is increasingly dependent on partnerships and collaboration.

The Cultural Institute offers a single gateway of information, support and practical advice to connect external partners with our world-leading researchers across all of the disciplines in the University, inviting them to contribute new ideas and expertise to projects from their inception, right through to bids for external funding that support our work together.

The Cultural Institute brokers conversations between academics and the creative and cultural sector, strengthening existing partnerships and acting as a catalyst for new ones. Our active programme of creative labs, workshops, showcases, competitions, awards and prizes helps us nurture these connections.

Working on a national research programme with the University of Leeds was hugely influential to our organisation for reputational, creative, developmental and sustainability reasons.

Wieke Eringa, Artistic Director, Yorkshire Dance

Arts and Health 

We're bringing researchers from across the University together with creative practitioners to explore how humanity's most pressing questions can be approached through the intersection of arts and health. We will act as a broker with the creative and cultural sector, strengthening existing partnerships and acting as a catalyst for new ones with a number of events, workshops, presentations and symposia.

Leeds Creative Labs

Leeds Creative Labs is our pioneering ‘blue skies’ programme, harnessing the varied skills and talents of University of Leeds academics and creative innovators to spark fresh connections and reap surprising benefits. By pairing creative professionals with researchers from the University, the initiative provides funding, inspiration and opportunity for artists and researchers to explore, innovate, co-produce and take risks.

Leeds Museums and Galleries cross-disciplinary fund

In partnership with Leeds Museums and Galleries, our cross-disciplinary innovation fund supports academics to undertake research projects inspired by Leeds Museums and Galleries’ collections. Containing over one million objects, they are some of the best outside of London with a number of collections designated as national significance status. With this fund, we hope to encourage small but beneficial partnerships with a wide range of academic disciplines. 

Immersive technologies

We are advancing the role of virtual reality in the Arts and Humanities, and connecting cutting-edge research in immersive technology to our creative industries. We’re bringing together researchers across diverse disciplines with the aim to develop distinctive new cultural products, and with artists enabling the creation of new research through the development of arts/science-led virtual spaces. Find out more about our partnership with the Centre for Immersive Technologies. 


Through our Ignite programme, the Cultural Institute offers funding to academics at the University of Leeds to develop research projects with external partners. The programme was established in 2012 to encourage researchers to develop projects that built relationships between the University and external organisations, in order to support engaging, relevant and impact-led research. Since then, we have provided funding to over 120 individuals to connect with hundreds of organisations, resulting in a broad range of larger research partnerships. See projects funded by the Ignite fund in 2018-2019.

DARE prize

A £15,000 prize, awarded by the DARE partnership between the University of Leeds and Opera North, challenges artists and scientists to think differently about the creative process. The inaugural DARE Art Prize 2017-2018 was awarded to composer Samuel Hertz. He worked in collaboration with researchers at the University and Opera North staff to explore sounds below the limits of human hearing and collaborate on the creation of groundbreaking new work. 

The winner of the DARE Art Prize 2018-19 was artist Anna Ridler.

Research workshops

Cultural Institute research workshops aim to build collaborations and create new knowledge. They are open to people working in the cultural and creative sector and academics from any discipline from the University of Leeds.

Cultural sector professionals and practitioners are invited to meet some of the leading researchers in the cultural economy, exploring areas as diverse as audiences in a digital age, the creative workforce and historical and contemporary perspectives on intellectual property.