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Creative Fuse Sparks Business and Innovation Boost

Creative Fuse North East provided a new understanding about the importance of innovation, created effective networks and brokered ongoing partnerships.

Read the Creative Fuse North East Report 2019

Over the last 30 months Creative Fuse North East has established ways in which the Creative, Digital and IT (CDIT) sector can grow and contribute greater impact to the regional economy, developing new ‘fused’ ways of working collaboratively as well as providing businesses with access to different networks and opportunities.

At a time when the creative industries are booming nationally, contributing over £100bn in GVA to the UK economy in 2017, the launch of the new Project Report on the CDIT sector in the North East is very timely.

The Government has just published new statistics for the creative sector which show that London and the North East were the fastest growing UK regions – between 2010 and 2017, the sector in the North East grew more than twice as fast than the rest of the economy in the region. The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has just launched its updated Strategic Economic Plan highlighting, amongst other things, the role of innovation in the regional economy.

Creative Fuse has shown that there is appetite and real opportunity to galvanise further growth in this key sector.

The core of the project has been to explore the concept of Fusion – the combination of ideas and skills from creative, design and technology disciplines – to provide businesses with a potent mix that can support growth in terms of staff, products and sustainability.

Ideas and approaches from creative practice stimulate innovation in many other sectors, from health and wellbeing to smart data, from automotive engineering to future cities. And then there are the more intangible benefits: the vital way that creativity can enrich our quality of life, stimulating a sense of place, identity and wellbeing and supporting social cohesion.

Ed Vaizey, MP – Chair of Creative Fuse North East Advisory Board

While the primary focus has been the CDIT sector, it has also explored spillover into other sectors, driving collaboration between creative and digital SMEs into emerging areas. The outcomes of the project form the basis of the development for a lasting legacy for the sector, both within the region and nationally.

Outcomes and Impact

A key facet of Creative Fuse has been its breadth and partners and multiple strands of activities. The project has supported, including direct financial investment, 277 businesses in 40 different cities, towns and villages across the region. This was especially true in music, performing and visual arts, IT, software and computer services.

The report highlights that 220 (90%) businesses had fewer than 10 employees, 60% of these micro-businesses had only one employee. While all businesses received a minimum of 12 hours with the average (mean) amount of support at 83 hours each.

The report also shows:

  • Engagement strong and broad audience reach – over 2,000 followers on social media, 1,751 people signed up to our mailing list and nearly 55,000 website views in a year.
  • The establishment of a strong brand – over 2,000 attendees at our networking events, 29 CAKE events (Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange) successfully delivered across a variety of themes.
  • A wide academic involvement with a gender split of 58% male and 42% female encompassing different career stages, from senior lecturer to research assistant.
  • 73% of academics came from the expected areas of arts and humanities, design, business computing and IT, but 27% came from other areas, ranging from Construction to Law.

The Next Steps for Creative Fuse North East

Looking to the future, it is important that the achievements and regional recognition that Creative Fuse has generated over nearly three years, evidenced in the various external evaluations we have commissioned, are not lost. We are currently actively pursuing future funding, and the recent extension of the project till 31 March 2019 has given us a window in which to develop various options and take forward discussions. We’ll provide future updates on this as the project progresses.

Like many research projects, it has started slowly and then gradually accelerated. Once the second phase kicked in, with its 30 innovation pilots and its wealth of ERDF and Arts Council-funded activities, our exploration of the concept of fusion really took off and the project has captured the imagination of many of our stakeholders and collaborators as well as becoming much more tangible for academic colleagues.

 

Professor Eric Cross, Principal Investigator, Creative Fuse North East

Further information

For media enquiries or interview requests, please contact Lyndsay Short at the Newcastle University Press Office.