The combination of creative design and technology in the emerging field of CreaTech represents a "huge national opportunity" that will derive great economic and cultural value for the UK in coming years, according to CIC Co-Chair Sir Peter Bazalgette.
Writing in The Financial Times, Sir Peter said the UK creative industries took R&D as seriously as industries well known for research such as life sciences, aerospace, and the automotive industry.
The creative industries accounted for 6 per cent of the UK economy and employed about 2.3m people, making them larger than the UK's life sciences, automotive, and aerospace industries combined. But the fact that creative businesses were often small and medium-sized companies and spread out in clusters meant they had been "a little difficult for policymakers to grasp".
The FT article outlined positive developments in recent years to support the growth of CreaTech including investment in creative clusters, based on partnerships between local businesses and universities in different areas of the UK.
Sir Peter said the government’s UK Research & Innovation funding agency had invested £56m into clusters, which had been matched by £252m over four years from industry and other sources.
Applied research from universities, connected with 2,500 SME’s, had yielded 700 R&D projects, 227 new start-ups and 558 new products and services for sub-sectors such as screen, games and fashion. Projects included games that aimed to tackle obesity; robot avatars to help in disaster zones; virtual reality to reduce the pain of childbirth; high-value sustainable yarn from recycled fibres and a leather substitute derived from fungus.
A forthcoming sector vision for the creative industries will publish further ideas for driving inclusive growth up to 2030, Sir Peter said.
Ahead of the publication of this vision, he underlined the importance of continuing to support innovative clusters, encouragement for more university spinout funds for CreaTech, and the need to define the skills needed for the future, with entry and career pathways for the next generation of creators.
Sir Peter writes: "As the digital industrial revolution rolls on, we need to stimulate the next wave of music tech, ad tech and publishing tech."
Read the FT article here (subscription required).
Sir Peter also recently gave the RSA President's 2023 Lecture entitled, "Bish Bash Bosh: R&D-led innovation in the creative industries".