Pokémon and Royal College of Art

Pokémon launches scholarship programme for Royal College of Art students

The Pokémon Company has joined forces with the Royal College of Art to award two students full-fee scholarships to "support the creation and exploration of innovative art and design".

Second-year masters' students Jesse Cahn-Thompson and Amir Afshar will be the first recipients of the Pokémon Scholarship.

As well as receiving scholarships for the final year of their degrees, the pair will be invited to visit the studios of the Japanese company, which spawned characters including Pikachu and Eevee.

Reflecting Pokémon's history of embracing technology

Due to be awarded annually, the scholarship aims to support students who demonstrate major potential in visual arts, design and communication.

"Pokémon evolved as a brand by embracing new technologies and collaborating with partners from new fields that range from data communication systems and geolocation-related technologies to partners in fashion and art," explained company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara.

"Through this scholarship, I am delighted to support students who show the potential for creating a new industry or mode of expression by exploring unknown possibilities," he explained.

Inaugural recipients work in different disciplines

Jesse Cahn-Thompson, who studies on the Information Experience Design programme, specialises in using artificial intelligence to create "alternative sensory experiences", for example, creating perfume using social media data.

Innovation Design Engineering student Amir Afshar is currently exploring the implications of augmented reality and virtual reality on architecture.

"We're delighted that the Pokémon Company, known for pushing boundaries in design and technology, has chosen to invest in our students," said Paul Anderson, dean of the RCA's school of design.

"The Pokémon Scholarship is an excellent opportunity for our students to consider their emerging practices in relation to the context of the world's issues, concerns and contexts," agreed Rathna Ramanathan, head of the school of communications.

Founded in 1998, the Pokémon Company is responsible for the Pokémon franchise, which includes video games, trading cards and an anime film and television series.

In 2016, the release of phone app Pokémon Go prompted a cultural phenomenon with brands releasing a host of Poké-themed merchandise, including a Pokédrone and a pair of vibrating trainers.