Digital innovation space launched at university

A digital screen being used at the HELIX facility

An advanced digital learning space for students, staff and the local community has opened at the University of Leeds.

HELIX offers innovative and experimental digital education tools and experiences including immersive technologies, maker and prototyping equipment and multimedia production studios.

It is a dedicated space for the community to collaborate on creative, innovative and entrepreneurial projects based on their own ideas and initiatives.

HELIX was launched by Professor Simone Buitendijk, vice-chancellor and president of the University of Leeds and Bethan Corner, education officer at Leeds University Union.

Buitendijk said: “HELIX offers us an opportunity to connect Leeds students with our worldwide community of learners and academics to collaborate and innovate together.

“Digital and online education is a vital mode of learning in today’s environment, and this exciting space will help us achieve our global education and research as well as our enterprise and entrepreneurship goals by providing an opportunity to nurture new forms of connectivity and innovation.”

Corner added: “It is great to see such a fantastic space now launch at the university, that will enhance digital learning and enable students to experience a variety of innovative hands-on equipment.

“HELIX will help to channel collaborative creativity, and we are so excited to see what students will produce.”

Located in the EC Stoner building on campus, HELIX is made up of different zones allowing a wide variety of digital experiences, education and collaboration.

The space includes state-of-the-art equipment in the Extended Reality (XR) classroom such as the only Omnideck in the UK.

The Omnideck has a 360-degree, three-dimensional rotating floor which enables freedom of movement in immersive learning experiences. The classroom also contains a Meta Quest 2 immersive all-in-one headset and high-specification PCs.

The Makerspace area accommodates a suite of 3D printers, a laser cutter, textiles equipment, resin printers, 3D scanners and craft resources for prototyping, testing and experimentation.

This includes LEGO Serious Play kits to support the university’s thriving Learning Support Practitioner group.

The Media Suite on site provides professional studio and editing facilities staffed by a team of video production and creative specialists.

Members of the HELIX team will provide self-record and podcasting support so users can quickly pick up the technology to create their own media whilst building institutional capability.

The space offers a variety of classrooms, co-lab shared workspaces and an enterprise hub which allow for a flexible working environment and opportunities to meet and connect with like-minded individuals to enhance collaboration both on campus and globally.

Margaret Korosec, Dean of online and digital education, said: “Opening the doors of HELIX is a significant step forward in supporting our ambitions in digital education, community networking and collaborative events.

“The innovative space will bring together students, staff and the local community in a borderless environment designed to support curiosity and collaboration – attributes that are deeply needed in our society right now.”