Project Overview

Supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the Backstage Innovation Centre at Production Park aims to be a world leading centre for industrial research supporting the live events industry and its supply chain. 

The live events industry is a huge sector, estimated to be worth £30 billion per year to the UK’s economy. However, at present, the established industry faces a fundamental threat to its existence, in the form of COVID-19 and the associated restrictions on public mass assembly which can be expected to impact live activities for many months to come.

COVID Recovery Think Tank

We want to bring together a think tank of companies to investigate innovative and practical approaches to tackling and mitigating the risk of large group gatherings in venues, ahead of the easing of lockdown restrictions. 

Central to the think tank’s challenge will be a proactive approach to address potential risks of contagion for crowds in live venues. Following the easing of lockdown, a venue’s primary risks will be controlling and distancing crowds, in addition to the management of the air, surfaces and contact conditions within the building.


The Backstage Innovation Centre exists to explore and solve contemporary issues within the live events sector and our most pressing challenge currently is working out how we can create COVID secure venues to enable the industry to get back to work and continue providing audiences with world leading entertainment.

We’re looking for the sector’s businesses to get in touch and make full use of our R&D facilities, which include prototyping build spaces, market access, as well as project management and consultant services.

Ultimately, we want to bring to life and implement these innovations to ensure the protection and long-term recovery of the industry.

Rachel Nicholson Head of Institution, Backstage Academy

Required SME Capabilities:

We are looking for SMEs with the following capabilities:

  • Fluid dynamics
  • M&E design
  • Air handling system manufacturers
  • Control system experts
  • Crowd management & modelling
  • Certification, assessment and analysis

What We Provide:

  • Prototype large scale build and test space*
  • Project Management Resource*
  • Specialist Consultant Support*
  • Market Access – Arena Management Teams and Promoters

*To access these services free of charge you must be an eligible SME trading in the Leeds City Region and have registered your interest via the form below. 


Some might underestimate its importance, but the live events industry is estimated to be worth over £30 billion per year to our economy, and will undoubtedly play a key part in returning some normality to our lives once restrictions are lifted.

However, at present, the industry faces a fundamental threat to its existence, in the form of COVID-19, with the associated measures expected to impact live activities long after the lockdown restrictions are eased.

We need to assure the public that it’s safe to enjoy the unique social experience of live events again and that the sector is confident enough to open up and attract sufficient audience sizes.

Lee Brooks CEO Production Park & Member of the Creative Industries Council

Project Call

This project call has ended and the project is underway.

Project Partners:

Ready to start your Backstage journey?