We launched the new Institute for Creative Industries at Edinburgh Napier University last Thursday and a fair few folk from across the sector joined us in marking the occasion including Creative Scotland CEO Andrew Dixon. As I remarked in my welcome “Universities are often criticised, sometimes rightly, for being slow to respond, bureaucratic or out of touch with what people in the ‘real world’ do; what kind of help they need and in what sort of timescale.” We aim to alter both the reality and perception of that charge by focusing on what we can do practically to address the needs of practitioners, SMEs and policy makers. That can be as simple as offering some technological know-how in interactive media to a TV production company or as complex as facilitating a multi-national collaboration between local authorities, business support agencies and others to share best practice in supporting creative company growth.
From research that we commissioned recently there could be as many as 20,000 businesses in the creative sector in Scotland i.e.nearly twice as many as previously thought, though the vast majority of those permanently employ no-one other than the owner (though they may mushroom on a project by project basis). Whichever figure is closest to the truth that’s still a complex ecology of businesses/freelancers who make up an interwoven tapestry of suppliers/collaborators/customers/innovators and talent ‘accelerators’. Universities such as Edinburgh Napier have, through initiatives like the Institute, a vital role to play in linking, facilitating and promoting innovation and reducing the time and expense taken to share knowledge generated in one part with the wider ‘ecosphere’. Over the next year the Institute will be working with a whole range of partners to develop, draw attention to and maximise the innovation support systems that can help our creative sector thrive. So watch this space.