Broadcaster Sky is to launch a new Innovation Hub in Leeds.
Sky Studios, the commissioning and production arm of Sky said the new hub will be focussed on the development of talent, scripted partnerships and new content experiences.
It will be led by executive producer Vicky Wharton who has worked as development executive, script editor and drama producer on a raft of award-winning shows from EastEnders to Murphy’s Law and most recently Harlots for US streaming service Hulu.
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The Innovation Hub will be based initially at Sky’s Tech Hub at Leeds Dock where it employs 650 people. So far Ms Wharton is the only employee of the hub but this number is expected to grow.
Its Sky News and MySky apps are developed and run from this hub. More widely in Leeds Sky employs 1,300 people.
Sky is currently in production with five Sky original shows across the North and North West including Tin Star Series three, set in Liverpool, and Cobra, Little Birds and Intergalactic all filmed on location and in studio space in Manchester.
The news comes after Channel 4 decided to relocate its headquarters to Leeds last Autumn. Earlier this year The Yorkshire Post revealed national operator Versa Studios who own and manage studios across the UK via their All Studios company, would be establishing a new studio in the city.
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When asked why Sky had selected Leeds for the hub, it said that wanted to be able to “access a wealth of creative talent and storytelling from the production community across the North of England”.
Ms Wharton said: “New writing has a special kind of energy: it can be a safe and dangerous place all at once, a wake-up call, a call to arms, a mirror, a home from home, and it can inspire hope.
“Our aim at Sky Studios Innovation Hub is to support creative risk from ambitious, diverse talent through mentoring, and forging unconventional ways to allow the very best talent to rise to the top.”
Sky said it hoped that the new hub would build on the success of Sky Studios Script Editor Forum and Sky Drama Diversity Table Reads, which have now both been running for three years.
Previous participants in Sky Drama Diversity Table Reads have gone on to work on ground-breaking Sky original productions, such as Bulletproof 2, and have been commissioned to write new short films for Sky Arts.
Over the past three years, 34 new projects from creative talent have been showcased as table reads read in front of audiences right across the UK.
Cameron Roach, Director of Drama, Sky Studios said: “We want to ensure that we invest in talent for the long term and with the increased competition for projects, we’re aware that there are fewer opportunities for new talent to develop their voices and breakthrough.
“As part of Sky’s wider commitment to innovation, our Innovation Hub will create an environment in which anyone, no matter what their background, is encouraged to find their voice, whilst also looking at innovative ways in which those voices can be developed.
“Vicky’s experience and ambition for nurturing talent, is an exact fit in leading this important work, and will encourage talent to find a foothold in the industry.”
In her new role as Executive Producer, Sky Studios Innovation Hub, Vicky will build on this success by ensuring Sky continues to evolve its relationship with the creative community for the long term.
Sky Studios also holds a majority shareholding in Leeds-based factual production company True North, whose output includes; A New Life in the Sun (Channel 4), A1 Britain’s Longest Road (BBC1), and Teen Mom (MTV).
In the past few months Sky has released a number of critically-acclaimed Sky originals including Emmy-nominated Chernobyl and Bafta-winning Patrick Melrose.