The creative industries are a UK success story, key to the UK’s prosperity, wellbeing and resilience.
From design to screen, fashion and textiles to heritage, they are generating high-quality employment and innovation.
And the creative industries are firmly embedded in our research and development ecosystem, ensuring that the UK remains a genuine world leader in the industries of the future.
A shared ambition
This week the UK government published its important Creative Industries Sector Vision, a document which sets out UK government and industry’s shared ambition to support the creative industries in England and across the UK.
The sector vision recognises the social and economic value of the creative industries to the UK.
Even greater growth engine
Its aim is to make the creative industries an ‘even greater growth engine […] where creative talent from all backgrounds, and creative businesses from all areas in the UK, can thrive’ and to maximise the impacts that the creative industries can have for society, the environment and for the UK’s reputation and influence around the globe.
Sir Peter Bazalgette and all who worked on the vision from government and the Creative Industries Council have produced a compelling argument for investment.
The publication of this vision marks a significant moment for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), with its breadth of investment across the creative industries.
We have been closely involved in its development, feeding in learning from our research successes and ideas from our network of brilliant researchers and innovators, to provide a clear steer for the future. I have spoken before about how immensely proud I am of our successes in the creative industries.
Rich, diverse, nurtured
Over more than a decade, from Brighton Fuse, through Knowledge Exchange Hubs to the Creative Industries Clusters Programme, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has built creative ecologies that are rich, diverse, nurtured over time and curated with foresight.
And, as the sector vision recognises, our clusters programme offers a proven model for creating jobs, spinouts, and new products, building skills, and leveraging co-investment.
In Innovate UK we have seen similar successes, where our investment enables UK-based small and medium-sized enterprises to innovate, capitalise on emerging markets and grow.
For example, support for DAACI enabled them to develop a novel artificial intelligence compositional tool for the production music market. They have since continued to build their portfolio of 60 patents, grown to 65 team members, and have a current annual revenue of £4.88 million.
Look to the future
As we look to the future, and across the sector vision’s three goals for growth, the workforce and wider impact, UKRI’s ambitions are bold.
We will build on the success of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme to support place-based, responsible, innovation-led growth in the creative industries.
This includes delivering Convergent Screen Technologies And performance in Realtime (CoSTAR), our £75.6 million national network for the UK’s renowned screen and performance sectors. We have just announced the winning projects to take forward the network.
Investment in new regions and sectors
And we are truly delighted that the government has now announced £50 million to renew the clusters programme. This will support investment in new regions and sectors and build a bridge to a scalable successor programme in the next spending review period.
We will work across our portfolio to develop a creative skills pipeline for the future. Programmes such as the recently launched XRtists include skills packages supporting the adoption and implementation of creative immersive technologies for the creative sector.
Reaching out into the cultural heritage sector, which contributes circa £30 billion gross value added to the UK economy, we are also confirming an £80 million investment in the Research Infrastructure for Conservation and Heritage Science (RICHeS) programme.
RICHeS will provide a network of facilities, collections and expertise in conservation and heritage science that will secure the UK’s reputation for excellence in the field, further capability in the sector and promote collaboration at a national and international level.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has funded several of the existing clusters to form XR Network+ Virtual Production in the Digital Economy. The network will build a community of academic research and industry research and development to unlock the potential of content creation and consumption for the whole of the digital economy and related spill-over sectors.
Our CoSTAR infrastructure and facilities have a key role to play in strengthening the pipeline for research talent and skills.
New generation of researchers
And UKRI has a growing portfolio of Centres for Doctoral Training providing a new generation of researchers with the technical skills and capabilities to deliver ground-breaking research and impact within the creative industries and cultural sector.
In circular fashion and textiles, a sector of key environmental and economic importance, Innovate UK, AHRC and the Natural Environment Research Council are supporting a large-scale demonstrator project focusing on post-consumer textile recycling and sorting.
As well as this we are funding an industry led innovation network and three academic networks which will work closely together to accelerate knowledge transfer and help us to understand and drive the fashion and textiles industry towards sustainable and responsible practices.
And as another example of how UKRI joins up late-stage research to business support, Innovate UK will provide targeted and continuous support for business innovation through the Creative Catalyst programme.
This will help innovative creative businesses to accelerate their journey from ideation to commercialisation through a pipeline of access to support such as easy-access agile funding, a creative peer network, investor partnership funding and international missions.
These are just a few examples; we can offer far more by continuing to work together across and throughout the journey from discovery research through to spin out and scale up.
Exploring our role
We are keen to do more, working in partnership to explore our role within a much wider landscape.
Last but by no means least, we want to harness the potential of the creative sector to change the world for the better.
The sector offers a clear route to positive change, for example:
- designing in sustainability for a greener future
- increasing the adoption of sustainable practices within the sector and beyond
- finding responsible and trustworthy creative applications for technologies such as artificial intelligence
Change driven by ideas and thinking
It is change that we know is best driven by arts and humanities ideas and thinking.
But this is not just a job for UKRI. The creative industries are complex, multifaceted and evolving, and we need to work collaboratively to maximise the value of our efforts.
This includes working with policymakers, with industry, with local communities and partners.
As UKRI’s Sector Champion for the Creative Sector I am excited about working with colleagues and with the wider sector to build this sector-focused portfolio in line with the sector vision.
And I am more positive than ever about the future of the creative industries. Twenty-five years ago, my namesake Chris Smith wrote:
Creativity, culture, national identity and the nation’s future wealth are all inextricably bound up together.
It is skilled, creative people that make the difference. And the proper role of government is to enable that to happen.
This is still true, 25 years on, and the recognition of creative industries as a growth engine for the UK economy, and the publication of the Creative Industries Sector Vision, are signs that we are heading in the right direction.
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