What Is Innovation in the Creative Industries?

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Creative England recently gathered a panel of industry experts to discuss investment opportunities within the creative screen sector. When the topic turned to innovation, here’s what they had to say…

While 2020 has undoubtedly been difficult for many working within the realm of creativity, it’s also provided an unexpected moment of reflection for a sector that’s usually in a constant state of flux. As lockdown forced businesses across the globe to pause and pivot their workflow in order to survive, the industry’s ability to innovate at a moment’s notice once again emerged as one of its most critical and defining attributes. However with the state of play changing almost daily, how would one define innovation within the creative sector?

“I think innovation comes in many forms,” suggested Sky Venture’s Director of Startup Investment and Partnerships James McClurg when posed this question during our recent digital roundtable. Organised by Creative England’s Creative Enterprise Evolve programme and co-hosted by the UK Business Angels Association, this Zoom panel acted as an arena for open discussion and also featured Hiro Capital’s Ian Livingstone CBE, Object Matrix Chair Travis Baxter and host Jenny Tooth of UKBAA. “When you have a great idea and a compelling consumer proposition – it might be a piece of content, a story you want to tell, or an emotion you want to bring to the fore – I think the real innovation is putting all the different bits together,” he continued. “Whether it’s the business model, technology, content or how you’re going to distribute it – when you get that package right, it becomes incredibly powerful.”

Creative England’s COO Mehjabeen Patrick added to the discussion, highlighting the crucial knock-on effect innovation has on the wider creative sector: “The creative industries have always been at the forefront of innovation – and not just innovation within the creative sector,” said Patrick during the same panel. “Whether it’s new business models, use of technology, new IP or the content we create – that’s a form of innovation – but it’s also about the impact the creative industries have on other sectors and the innovation they bring.” When it comes to defining innovation within the creative sphere, the ripple effect that impact has on the surrounding economic landscape is a key factor. “The sector is constantly evolving and innovating,” she assured viewers. “Most of the things we do end up being some form of innovation that has an impact on other sectors as well.”

As the panel drew to a close, McClurg remained confident that by using readily available tools such as new commercial models and emerging distribution platforms, SME’s could continue to disrupt the sector in a way that continues to feed innovation. “You’ve got consumers who understand these things more than ever before – and organisations who are open to them. That’s the opportunity,” he reasoned, referencing the saviness of those on the receiving end of company change. “Innovation probably isn’t just one thing,” he concluded. “It’s a combination of it all and packaging it in a way that works for the whole ecosystem around you. If you can put all those bits together, the sky’s the limit.”

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Words by Simon Bland