Emma Powell, creative director of Air Giants, has scooped a national award from Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency. The prestigious award will support Air Giants in growing their innovative business, which uses cutting-edge robotics to make brilliant, large-scale, and award-winning artwork.

Bristol-based Air Giants is a creative studio making huge, joyful robots and powerful immersive experiences. Technological pioneers, they are the first people in the world to make soft robots on such a large scale.

From Puppets to Robots:

Powell’s journey from the University of West of England’s illustration degree to co-founding Bristol’s first inflatable robotics company has been notable. Powell’s experiences as a puppet maker for film and theatre at Bristol’s iconic Puppet Place first sparked her fascination with the world of mechanical creation, organic motion, and animatronics. Now, the Air Giants studio has become synonymous with monumental and emotionally impactful artworks that captivate audiences worldwide. Air Giants’ creations evoke wonder and curiosity using technical innovation to bring creatures of the imagination into the everyday. See Luma and Unfurl for examples of Air Giants’ work.

An Award for Future Growth:

The award will allow Air Giants to develop new ways their work can reach global audiences. The studio is now setting out to discover how to make giant robotic installations postable, with an easy set-up that requires no technical expertise, meaning audiences anywhere in the world will be able to connect with and befriend these other-worldly creations.

Powell says, "I am so delighted to receive this support. It allows us to develop a radical approach to sharing our creative robotic work - to meet people wherever they are across the UK and the world. The project will create new audiences for Air Giants and is a powerful way to get cutting-edge robotics and arts into places they would otherwise never be. We can now start to imagine our robots appearing anywhere!

This grant provides a unique opportunity to develop our business, but it also focuses on encouraging and inspiring others to explore careers in creative technology. Innovation wasn’t a path that I had ever known was a possibility in my early career. I would encourage people into creative technology and entrepreneurship because they might be fantastic at it, but also because it is a hugely varied and rewarding field in which to work.”

Building on the success of Innovate UK’s targeted programmes, like Women in Innovation and Young Innovators, this latest funding is designed to find and support the fresh innovation talent the UK needs.

Powell is among the 233 high-potential innovators who have been awarded a £50,000 grant. Critically, they will also receive 12 months of tailored business support to help them grow, stimulating the UK’s economy.

In line with the UK’s growing appetite for innovation, this new award programme was amongst the most highly engaged funding competitions Innovate UK has ever delivered – with over 2,100 entrepreneurs applying for funding and business mentorship.


Air Giants were one of six projects awarded a share of £1M as part of MyWorld’s Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) funding call. The projects have been exploring a range of ambitious ideas addressing emerging challenges from across different areas of the Creative Industries.

In collaboration with our globally recognised universities in the region, the project teams have developed an exciting mix of innovative prototypes. These prototypes will drive cutting-edge research and impact industry which will further fuel the West of England’s creative technology sector and beyond. Air Giant’s collaborated with the Bristol Interaction Group from the University of Bristol for their project.