Drew is an artist, designer and academic researcher. He is a Chancellors Fellow, at Edinburgh Futures Institute and Edinburgh College of Art, within the University of Edinburgh.
Drew has an academic reputation of international standing, highly respected beyond his own discipline, recognised in awards from the cultural, technology and public service sectors. Over 25 years, he has been one of the key figures who has shaped the field of digital art and culture, with a track record of leadership roles in domains including open data and human-centred smart cities.
Drew develops highly collaborative and interdisciplinary forms for research, in which building communities of interest is integral. This results in a portfolio of outputs with impact on society, including international festivals, artworks, and data Infrastructure, platforms and services.
Presently Project Lead (PI) of the GROW Observatory (H2020, €5.1m), which is mobilising thousands of citizens across Europe in generating, sharing and using data in order to improve food production practices and scientific understanding of extreme climate phenomena, like droughts, floods and heatwaves.
Drew founded FutureEverything in 1995, directing continuously for 23 years the UK's annual festival of digital culture, and numerous innovation programmes spanning science, society, technology and the arts. It was named by The Guardian as one of the top ten ideas festivals in the world (2012), and is a hub for digital culture and artists globally.
He has introduced art and human-centred design into the flagship IoT and Smart Cities programmes of the UK (CityVerve) and EU (IoT Large Scale Pilots, CREATE IoT), including as Theme Lead for Culture & Public Realm on CityVerve, the UK's IoT demonstrator (InnovateUK, £10M). He has led the development of innovation frameworks and methodologies, such as Festival as Lab and Open Prototyping, and awarded a STARTS Prize (Honorary Mention) for collaborative work on the Citizen Sensing Toolkit (Making Sense, H2020, €2M).
Drew has worked with cities and nations representing culture and research at the highest level, including work with the Singapore Government on the Smart Nation agenda and Singapore’s 50th anniversary of independence. Has been instrumental in the reimagining of cities, and played a leading role in shaping the digital agenda in Manchester over two decades
Drew's research on and of the digital age has been covered by New York Times, BBC and NBC, and recognised in academic and industry appointments. He is an Editorial Board member for Leonardo journal of art, science and technology, and member of the Citizens' Observatories Community Activity of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) which is leading a worldwide effort to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). He was a leadership role-model on a pilot leadership programme for the AHRC, and his research has resulted in new policy and infrastructure, such as DataGM (Greater Manchester Datastore). In 1999, he was awarded a PhD at Lancaster University, in 2009 elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.