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Creative Industries Clusters Programme leads the way


Our new Creative Industries Clusters Programme leads the way in implementing key recommendations of the Bazalgette report.

By Professor Andrew Chitty, The Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Creative Economy Champion.

UK Creative Sector

The creative sector in the UK includes advertising, architecture, broadcasting, crafts, design, creative tech, fashion, film, heritage, museums and galleries, music, performing arts, photography, publishing, video games and visual arts

It is worth £87.4bn per year and has been the fastest growing part of the UK economy since 2010.

It has grown by more than a third since 2010.

The sector employs 2.9 million people, representing a rise of 5.1% between 2014 and 2015.

Source: Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The publication of the Sir Peter Bazalgette Review today is a great leap forward in recognising that when it comes to economic growth, jobs and innovation, the creative industries are as important to the UK as the more traditional science and technology driven sectors, such as healthcare or manufacturing.

'Baz' outlines some key objectives that the government and the creative sector need to join forces on to encourage innovation and to ensure our creative businesses have access to the finance they need to continue to compete and grow.

Baz’s most striking conclusion is that the UK needs to recognise that creative businesses thrive and grow where they’re thick on the ground and can share ideas.

He also sets out what we have to do to ensure we maintain our world-class pipeline of talent that not only delivers audiences and awards across the globe, but underpins our world class creative sectors from TV to advertising, design to film.

But perhaps Baz's most striking conclusion is that the UK needs to recognise that creative businesses thrive and grow where they are thick on the ground and can share ideas, people and supply chains, and can trade and learn from one another.

Baz believes that investing in these clusters will unlock huge benefits in jobs, productivity and growth.

And we agree with Baz, which is why Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced today the Creative Industries Clusters Programme, an £80m competition for Research and Development (R&D) partnerships to drive forward innovation within eight creative clusters across the UK.

This is the first time the Government has drawn on its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to support the creative industries.

There’s a growing body of research that shows how the creative industries thrive in clusters, with collaboration the key to boosting productivity. At the heart of the clusters we’ll be funding will be university-housed labs that will bring together creative businesses and university researchers to solve industry problems and to develop new products and services.

We believe the clusters must also foster a new kind of research – research for and with the creative industries not about them.

This will ensure the UK can compete with anyone on the planet and that British culture and creativity can attract investment from across the world.

The Programme is being led by the AHRC and will back eight R&D partnerships that will specifically address challenges identified by the publishing, music, film, TV, design, architecture, performance, culture and related industries. Funding of between £6m and £9m will be made available for partnerships specifically focused on growing economic value.

We want to find out how we can research new business models. How can we develop new tools? And how can we make companies more investable through developing the value of their intellectual property?

Greg Clark has said he believes that the Creative Industries Cluster Programme will deliver “a real boost to the country’s already burgeoning creative industries, help spread prosperity and grow the creative skills base across the UK,” and described this type of collaboration between Government, businesses and universities as a, “perfect example of our industrial strategy in action”.

We believe the clusters must also foster a new kind of research – research for and with the creative industries not about them; research that can help develop the new creative content, products, services and commercial models with which UK businesses can conquer the world rather than research that analyses how they work; research that can explore new ways to engage, delight and interact with audiences and consumers and attract the investment to build world-class companies; to underpin the future of the creative sector as science and technology research does for healthcare or manufacturing.

And this is where it gets really exciting.

In some industries it can be 10 to15 years before academic research translates into new products or services; longer if it’s a new drug or treatment. But in the creative sector we believe that innovation can be applied much faster.

Together, I believe we can make stuff happen: starting now.

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