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Project Background

The concept of Fusion or a ‘Fused Business’ was first developed through the work of a dedicated Creative, Digital & IT Task Force set-up by the Centre for Industry and Higher Education.

This Task Force, co-chaired by Rona Fairhead and Professor Chris Snowden (University of Surrey) asked how the UK could remain competitive in the growing global markets. Its final report, The Fuse: Igniting High Growth for Creative, Digital and Information Technology Industries in the UK, emphasised the importance of CDIT industries as a strategic priority alongside STEM.

The above report helped to bring about the Brighton Fuse project, led by Brighton University (with Creative Fuse’s own Professor Jonathan Sapsed as Co-Investigator for the project) working in collaboration with the University of Sussex and co-produced with Wired Sussex and the National Council for Universities and Business (formerly the CIHE).

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, like Creative Fuse North East, the two year Brighton Fuse was very successful in mapping, measuring, and enhancing the Creative, Digital and IT sector in Brighton, helping to position the CDIT sector categorisation at an important time in sector and economic development policy. In particular, it explored how a combination of creative and technical skills within businesses affected their growth, profitability and sustainability.

The findings and implications of the Brighton Fuse research are further explained in the video below, and in the Final Report from the project.

Creative Fuse builds on the important Brighton Fuse project. Our first phase saw the five North East universities join together to deliver a project that combined the broad research approach of Brighton Fuse – via the largest single survey ever undertaken of the CDIT sector in the North East of England covering over 500 businesses and freelancers – with direct business support and engagement. This overarching approach focused on developing the creative sector’s growth potential and aimed to support the wider application and adoption of creative led innovation.

Whilst Brighton Fuse analysed a city centre cluster of CDIT businesses, Creative Fuse North East focuses on the entire North East region, from the top of Northumberland through to the Tees Valley, spanning urban clusters and rural networks alike. As a result of the impact of our first phase delivered between 2016-2019, the university consortium led by Newcastle University has successfully secured investment for a second phase which commenced in 2020 and runs to 2022.

Throughout the project we will continue to work with and support the region’s CDIT sector to better understand:

  • What makes our CDIT businesses successful?
  • How can the sector have a positive impact on the wider business community and economy?

Creative Fuse is different from other research and innovation projects. We work alongside businesses, freelancers and other organisations to co-develop and apply our findings, driving innovation during the project’s lifespan and seeking to contribute to new insight that will help drive policy locally, regionally and nationally.