A SCOTS university will harness the natural and cutural heritage of countries in Northern Europe to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the creative industries.

The two-year “StoryTagging” project will see partners from Northern Ireland, Finland, Russia and Sweden work alongside Robert Gordon University (RGU) Orkney to develop a digital platform that they say will “enhance the reach of SMEs while supporting the creation of new creative products”. The scheme hopes to bring the cultural heritage of communities to life, as all the nations involved have a rich history of storytelling.

RGU Orkney will manage the venture, which is in part funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) programme of the EU.

StoryTagging aims to “celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of Northern communities” and will involve a range of disciplines; RGU schools of creative and cultural business, computing science and Gray’s School of Art will all be involved, as will the University of the Highlands and Islands alongside the project’s international partners.

Elsa Cox, RGU’s Orkney development manager, said: “Orkney shares a strong history of storytelling with the project regions as demonstrated by local folklore, music, art and an annual storytelling festival. The StoryTagging project is exciting as it brings the opportunity to enhance market reach by imbuing creative products with those stories.

“Such stories bring large numbers of visitors to the islands annually, keen to experience the landscape and local culture for themselves.

“Creative SME’s in the north of Scotland face similar economic challenges to those based across the project area due to location, distance to market and even lack of internet


“With the potential to make it easier to do business sustainably in remote regions, the StoryTagging project has a great deal to offer locally.”

One of the central activities will involve developing an integrated digital platform to host stories, trails, movies and information about locations and events in a wide range of multimedia formats.

It will collect up to 30 stories in each partner country which celebrate language, dialect and culture, economic heritage, traditions, history, folklore, landscape and archaeology.

Project partners will collaborate with SMEs in each country to bring stories to life through new products or works, which will then be mapped via the platform.

Professor Paul Hagan, vice principal for research at RGU, added: “We are pleased to be collaborating with our international partners to ensure that the rich cultural and natural heritage of the region is captured through our technological expertise and innovation.

“This project once again highlights RGU’s commitment to interdisciplinary research and capitalises on our strengths to find effective solutions to some of the challenges experienced by communities in the Highlands and Islands.”