What Will the Sector Deal do for You – Universities and Major Companies/Institutions?

The Creative Industries Sector Deal, published recently by the UK Government, sets out a range of goals and actions designed to help the creative industries and its partners. However, in the light of the famous Monty Python line “What have the Romans ever done for us?” we look at what the Sector Deal might do for different people involved in creative work in the UK.

Those who might benefit range from the tens of thousands of freelancers and micro-companies who make up over 90% of the industry to regional investors and universities.  All are mentioned in the 71 page report, but in this second of three blogs we will review what the options are for universities and major companies/institution.

Universities are Major Gainers

£64m in an Arts and Humanities Research Council programme to deliver eight partnerships between universities and creative businesses across the UK. Announced last year the process of selecting the eight Creative Cluster centres is well under way.  The shortlist of possible centres is HERE and final decisions will be announced this summer.

25 Universities will also benefit from the new Institute for Coding which will receive £20m in funding within the Industrial Strategy funding programme. This was announced at Davos earlier this year.

The development of talent in the latter initiative is only one part of a general increase in funding and focus on the talent pipeline for the creative industries that will feed through into the universities. These include :-

  • £2m(dependent on  a business case) to ensure there is a larger and more diverse intake of talent and a broader range of routes into the creative industries;
  • DCMS support for a creative careers strategy;
  • a creative industries toolkit that will be made available on the web; and
  • a national campaign led by the Creative Industries Federation.

Major Company Opportunities

Creative exporters will benefit from a new programme and a new Creative Trade and Investment Board supported with at least £4m from Department of Trade budget. This will include continuing support for the Trade Access Programme and Music Export Growth Scheme.

The Creative Kickstart Programme aimed at creative companies in creative clusters with mentoring and advice on finance, exports and IP, including a creative industries roadshow to introduce businesses and investors.

£33m investment from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund into the Audiences of the Future Challenge that will be administered by the UK Research and Innovation. This is a new body created on April 1st 2018, bringing together UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England.

An increase in the rate of R&D tax credit to 12 per cent from 11 per cent. Essential tax benefit for companies in the creative industries ,who undertake extensive Research and Development.

Developing Institutions

Creative Local Industry Partnerships will be created to enhance collaboration between creative industries consortia,including the Creative Industries Federation, Creative Industries Council, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Combined Authorities and partners in Devolved Nations.

A £10m Industry Centre of Excellence (supported by £5m from the AHRC’s clusters programme) to overcome silos in the key industries, ensuring the UK creative workforce is the most skilled in the world in the use of immersive technologies.

A £20m Cultural Development Fund open to bids from local partnerships. The fund will run over two years and will invest in areas of the country that can demonstrate high impact, robust plans for using investment in cultural and creative industries assets to further economic growth and support local communities.

Two Key Issue

Over 90% of the creative industries is made up of freelancers and micro-companies. In order for the Sector Deal to work it will need to reach out to this fragmented community to ensure that past mistakes are not repeated.

The control of large parts of the monies allocated to the Deal rest with major institutions and are geared towards major companies, who have staff available to participate in bid applications and the various committees required to run programmes. At one level this is understandable, but unless these bodies make a real effort to engage with the freelancers and micro-companies by offering effective support and simple, open-access to funds, much of the ambition stated within the Deal will be lost.

Much of the Deal focuses on start up and seed type investment funding. If match funding, and crucially follow on funding, is not provided good ideas and talent will be either lost or the exploitation left to non-UK companies. The engagement of investment groups, in particular Angel Funders, outside of London will be a critical factor in any future success.

On the latter point see ‘What will the Sector Deal Ever do for You – Investors?‘.

For possible implications for Freelancers and micro-companies see ‘What will the Creative Industries Sector Deal Ever do for You ?’.


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