Focus on creative industries in Bristol and Bath


 BBC Natural History (600px)

Above: the BBC's world-famous Natural History Unit is in Bristol. Image credit: ® Jon Bryan

With a base of successful businesses, advanced infrastructure and support from City leaders, the Bristol and Bath region is poised to be at the forefront of the UK's creative industries growth.

The region's long-standing residents such as Aardman Animations and the BBC Natural History Unit are now supplemented by a large variety of tech, branding, film and gaming businesses such as Yogscast and Bristol Games Hub that are taking advantage of local talent, infrastructure and features.

Blackwell's Britain, a series of reports from round the UK's creative clusters, identified the following characteristics:

Scale and expertise: Having won 14 BAFTAs and four Oscars, the area is a key centre for TV, film and animation, and associated technology and support services. The publishing companies, Future and Immediate, also provide significant presences for that sector. Overall, the area is ranked in the UK's top 10 creativity and innovation hotspts according to NESTA. In addition, it is acknowledged for its impact on tech-driven sectors from chip design to newer forms of social and mobile gaming. Every month, more than 500m users view digital content created locally.

Taken as a whole, the creative industries provide about 15,900 jobs in the Bristol and Bath area. The region's creatives are estimated to be 50% more productive than the UK average, and since 1999, there has been a 106% increase in productivity in creative industries across Bristol and Bath. The region is now targeting annual growth of 20% for its creative sectors. 

Digital infrastructure: Bristol offers high-speed capacity via fibre optics, in addition to a citywide WiFi network, a 5G testbed and an experimental radio frequency option. A number of hi-tech hubs such as the Engine Shed (shown below), The Guild, the Bristol Robotics Lab, the Bristol and Bath Science Park and the Bristol Games Hub have taken advantage of these features to build a culture of networking and knowledge-sharing among digital businesses.


Bristol Engine Shed

Above: the Engine Shed offers a hi-tech, social working space for creative businesses.

Supportive policies and business environment: The Mayor of Bristol believes that the city could become a European creative hub and has pledged to remove any bureaucratic obstacles holding organisations back. In addition, areas such as the Temple Quarter enterprise zone attract business rate discounts and relaxed planning rules. The city has also pulled in the nationwide Creative Employment Programme to invest part of its £15m in creating 100 local internships. Other projects, such as the Pervasive Media Studio, are tasked with identifying and nurturing creative talent.

Educational and start-up base: Invest Bristol and Bath estimates that 10,000 people a year graduate from the region's four universities, adding to the local talent pool. A large percentage of graduates stay in the region, reflecting its status as the best place to live in the UK, according to The Sunday Times. Start-ups are supported by incubators such as SETsquared and WebStart Bristol, as well as numerous events run by Bristol Media, Bath Digital Festival, TechSPARK and others.

Success stories: Somo, an international supplier of mobile solutions to the likes of Redbull, Audi and News Corp, is one of the region's most noted overseas investors. Dave Evans, Somo's Chief Technology Officer, said the group looked at several cities, but Bristol was "far and away the best". Evans cites the area's heritage in design and TV, its location within easy access to London and its nexus of well-regarded universities, as reasons that persuaded the company to base itself in Bristol.

Other newcomers to the area include Kainos, the Belfast software company, and the region was named one of Europe's best performing territories for foreign direct investment in an annual survey by fDi Intelligence, part of the Financial Times.

Download the full Blackwell's Britain report on Bristol and Bath's creative industries.


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