Export and growth ambitions are driving the UK businesses at the intersection of creativity and technology celebrated in the new CreaTech ‘Ones to Watch’ list
Of the 100 businesses on the 2021 list, 57 already export, despite the majority of the 100 (66) reporting relatively modest annual turnover of under £632,000.
Of those already exporting, the most likely sales markets are Asia Pacific and North American markets, and more than 70% have sold to more than one continent.
The vast majority of the CreaTech ‘Ones to Watch’ companies are also in overt growth mode, with 84 describing themselves as either start-up or scale-up operations.
Two companies (Blue Zoo Animation Studio and Imagination) already have more than £10m in annual turnover. A further seven turn over more than £2.5m a year.
Ambitions for the future growth of such CreaTech businesses are built on the innovation these companies offer. Typically, they mix technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual or augmented reality with creative expertise to add value to entertainment, experiences, business services, or public goods in multiple categories.
The ‘Ones to Watch’ list is published annually by the Creative Industries Council (CIC), with support from Digital Catapult, Facebook, Moore Kingston Smith and UKRI (AHRC), to highlight such breakthrough CreaTech businesses from across the UK. The list is selected by a panel of industry leaders, funding bodies, and experts.
Twenty of the Ones to Watch companies will feature in a dedicated free CreaTech platform on September 21st, as part of the London Tech Week (Sept 20-24) of virtual events. As well as showcasing some of the listed companies, the free day of CreaTech video sessions will explore funding, export opportunities, talent, and future directions.
The nascent CreaTech space has been praised by UK government, industry and venture capitalists for its potential to generate new sources of revenue, employment, and cultural value.
Venture Capital (VC) funding in UK CreaTech is forecast to rise by 25% to a record £1.2bn by 2022, according to The Tech Nation CreaTech Report 2021. By this assessment, CreaTech and ClimateTech are two of the fastest-growing areas of VC tech investment in the UK.
CreaTech could have an important role to play in the economic recovery of the UK creative industries that have been severely disrupted by audience restrictions and other measures introduced to counter COVID-19.
Before the pandemic, CreaTech was one of the growth hotspots in the UK creative industries, which in total contributed £115.9bn to the UK economy in 2019. The pre-pandemic growth rate of the creative industries was more than three times faster than the UK economy as a whole, and creative businesses also over-delivered in terms of their share of UK service exports.
Minister for Exports, Graham Stuart MP said: “The UK’s creative industries are a force to be reckoned with, and it’s great to see the Createch’s ‘Ones to Watch’ list reflect the breadth and depth of home-grown talent and the export opportunities there are in the sector.
“The trade deals we’re striking across the world support jobs, growth and opportunities for our brilliant creative industries. From dedicated support packages to International Trade Advisors, the Department for International Trade stands ready to help businesses start – or expand - their exporting journey.”
Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology, and Chair of the CIC R&D and Innovation working group, said: “The coming together of the creative industries with the technology sector has enormous potential for the UK economy, as demonstrated by the amazing line-up of innovative businesses in the ‘Ones to Watch’ list, and there’s still lots more to come.
“The UK is a global creative industries super power. So we’re well placed to build on that and develop new ways to boost collaboration between academia and industry. The time is now to accelerate innovation in the creative industries and boost R&D, to fuel the UK’s COVID recovery and to take our industries to new heights.”
Janet Hull, CIC CreaTech Organiser and Director of Marketing Strategy at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, said: “Ones to Watch provides a valuable showcase to demonstrate to government, industry, and investors through concrete examples the multiplicity of scalable commercial business opportunities being created at the convergence of creative industries and tech.
“In combination with the evidence from The Tech Nation CreaTech Reports, we now have a robust base from which to seek government collaboration, commitment and support for an effective long-term growth plan.”
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