The UK’s innovation body NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), will be piloting a world-first programme in Manchester City Region offering small businesses creative support to help them to become more profitable.
‘Creative Credits’ will award SMEs £4,000 worth of external creative input for their own £1,000 investment, helping to develop ideas that can transform their company’s prospects. NESTA recently highlighted the creative industries as one of the UK’s most important growth sectors. It estimates that the creative industries will contribute £85 billion to GDP and employ almost 1.3 million people by 2013.
The application process is quick and simple – businesses will answer a short online questionnaire and if eligible, will be entered into a draw. Successful applicants will be able to spend the Credits with a creative business of their choice, as long as the latter are registered on NESTA’s online Gallery and their project meets the programme criteria.
NESTA believes that the creative industries can improve the performance of other businesses for example in the development of new products and services and in devising platforms to help businesses reach new audiences, but many businesses are unaware of these benefits. NESTA’s research has found that UK businesses that invest double the amount the average firm spends on creative services are 25% more likely to introduce product innovations.
Commenting on the programme, NESTA’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Kestenbaum said: “UK firms under-invest in important creative services, such as design, compared to other EU businesses. We have the largest creative sector in the world relative to GDP and as we emerge from a difficult economic climate we want to show that the creative industries can be of even more value to our economy. This programme aims to put businesses on a path to growth.”
NESTA is partnering with Manchester City Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Northwest Regional Development Agency and the Arts and Humanities Research Council in investing £600,000 in the pilot. It will award 150 companies with Creative Credits in two waves – the first 75 will be picked in October, and the second next February.
Hasan Bakhshi, Director for Creative Industries in NESTA’s Policy & Research Unit said: “This is a groundbreaking programme which will have a multiplier effect in terms of stimulating Manchester’s economy – both for the benefit of SMEs and creative businesses. As Manchester City region is one of the UK’s leading creative industry hubs, we felt it was an obvious choice for the pilot. We will be tracking the development of all the businesses taking part so that we can measure conclusively the additional impact this has on stimulating innovation and growth.”