EU flag and PONToon research project logos


Read more about the PONToon (Partnership Opportunities using New Technologies fostering sOcial and ecOnomic inclusioN) project

Our Faculty of Creative and Culture Industries is lead partner in this 3½-year project, which officially began on 7 June 2017. Project PONToon – Partnership Opportunity using New Technologies fostering sOcial and ecOnomic inclusioN 2017-2021 – is a €5.8 million digital upskilling collaboration between participants in Southern England and Northern France. The project is 69% funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Interreg France (Channel) England programme and is delivered by 11 partners:

  • The University of Portsmouth (lead)
  • Amiens Métropole
  • Aspex
  • Digital Peninsula Network
  • Devon Mind
  • Eastleigh Borough Council
  • GIP-FCIP de l'académie de Caen
  • MEFP
  • WSX Enterprise

Community development, social and economic inclusion and equality are at the heart of this research and innovation project, and our aim is to produce a scalable and transferable methodology that can be applied to broader demographic sets and geographical regions for continuing impact. The sudden growth of the digital and creative sectors has led to a digital skills shortage across these (by 2020, in both France and the UK, 90% of jobs will need digital skills). Employers across the FCE area demand employees have digital skills, and 72% of these will not consider applicants without them (UK government survey). Therefore, these sectors represent significant employment opportunities for our target group.

PONToon seeks the co-creation of a model fusing digital technologies and creative industries with existing employment support services to improve access to, and the quality and impact of, these for our target group. Women from diverse backgrounds experience difficulty in accessing equal training and employment opportunities across the FCE area. PONToon partners have identified challenges in service delivery faced by our target group preventing them from moving closer to the workplace.

Female University of Portsmouth student working in computer lab

The PONToon (Partnership Opportunities using New Technologies fostering sOcial and ecOnomic inclusioN) model will use new technologies to provide a model to engage with, support and up-skill women in order to support their economic inclusion.

This represents a progression from the use of digital technologies for social inclusion to uses for economic inclusion, the project will make use of technologies such as games development, 3D and Virtual Reality (VR) technology, social media and web/mobile apps.

Digital Social Circus

Carolyn Watt is a professional circus/cabaret performer and PONToon project PhD student (Oct 2016 – Sept 2019). Carolyn’s practice-based PhD is part funded by the Interreg 5A France (Channel) England Research project PONToon, June 2017 – November 2020, led by the University of Portsmouth UK.

Her research as part of the PONToon project investigates social circus enhanced by digital technologies to foster female empowerment. The digital social circus concept is being used as one way in which to invite participants to experience and engage with the digital world.

Project partners

Digital and Creative Technologies research

We're fuelling technological advances in animation, visual effects (VFX), cross reality (XR), user experience (UX), computer and video games, and visual computing. Discover the work we do.

Virtual reality headset
Discover our research

Women's and gender studies

We're exploring women’s issues and gender issues in social and cultural contexts through time, and how gender is represented in the media. Explore our women's and gender studies research.

Ethnic women
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