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Meeting the Need
The report and online map were published at the end of November 2010. The research has shown that London is the heart of the creative industries in Britain, dominating in almost all creative sectors, and particularly in the most intrinsically creative layers of the value chain for each sector. “The high level of geographical detail used in the mapping has allowed us to pin-point nine other creative hotspots across Britain,” says Olly. “The interactive map was vital in helping us raise the profile of the report. We managed to get a wide range of media interest and from top level policy advisers and MPs.”
The report was widely referred to by individuals on Twitter and individuals working in the sector were also very interested in the findings – using the map to get an accurate picture of the creative industries in their local area. “It was one of our most popular reports in 2010,” says Olly. We found that the sort of people interested in the report varied from policy advisers to people employed in the sector,” he says.
The team at NESTA has already updated the report with data for Scotland and will continue to keep the current interactive report up to date. The exercise will be repeated later this year.
Other benefits are:
The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) is an independent body with a mission to make the UK more innovative. NESTA invests in early-stage companies, informs policy, and delivers practical programmes that help organisations solve some of the big challenges facing us in the future. NESTA’s success depends on the strength of the partnerships it forms with innovators, policymakers, community organisations, educators and other investors.
One of the projects NESTA has undertaken is to look at the role of creative industries in the UK. The importance of the UK’s creative industries becomes clear when you consider that the sector grew by an average of 5 per cent each year between 1997 and 2007. This compares to an average of 3 per cent for the whole of the economy over this period.
NESTA wanted to explore evidence that the UK’s creative industries support innovation and growth in other sectors of the economy. So it set up a two-year study with Birmingham and Cardiff Universities.
NESTA would usually prepare reports based on its findings and make them available as PDFs. However, Olly Arber, Head of Digital Media, NESTA explains that this time it wanted to use an online interactive report to present information about creative industries at a fine level of detail in each locality. “We often present reports that keep a lot of data hidden and that never gets shared. We realised that this was an opportunity to present the data in a different way,” he says.
NESTA decided to use InstantAtlas and started to upload data in September 2010. By this stage using an interactive element had become crucial to the project. The team wanted it to be the most ambitious attempt yet to map the UK’s creative clusters, showing where they are, which sectors form them, and what their role is in the systems of innovation. Data uploaded included the number of businesses in the creative sector as a proportion of total business and data on travel to work times coupled with other data from the Annual Business Inquiry (ABI). Getting the data loaded required some workflow reorganisation and was hard work but well worth it according to Olly.
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