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Building a Creative Cardiff

6 June 2019

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Professionals from a multi-million pound tripartite University initiative have presented their vision to drive innovation in the screen industries at a Cardiff Business School Breakfast Briefing on Thursday 6 June 2019.

Led by Cardiff University, in partnership with the University of South Wales and Cardiff Metropolitan University, Clwstwr is an ambitious five-year research and development (R&D) programme which aims to create new products, services and experiences to boost the sector in South Wales.

The Breakfast Briefing got underway with a presentation from Sara Pepper, Chief Operating Officer at Clwstwr, who outlined the context in which the initiative is operating.

A global phenomenon

She explained how the growth of the creative industries sector is more widely reported nowadays, which has led economists, the media, governments and other stakeholders to think about this broader type of work and occupational behaviour as the creative industries.

“What we know now is that the creative industries is the fastest growing part of the UK Economy.”

Sara Pepper Chief Operating Officer at Clwstwr

“And it’s not just in the UK, this is a global phenomenon. So, we’re regularly talking to organisations across the world where governments are investing in the sector.”

Sara continued by considering the impact this growth has had on the development of a creative economy. She explained how a shared interest in this idea, among Cardiff University colleagues, Professors Justin Lewis and Ian Hargreaves, led to the formation of Creative Cardiff to study and better understand the creative economy.

The network which grew out of Creative Cardiff identified a need for something bigger. Enabled by the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy and launch of the Creative Industries: Sector Deal, Cardiff became one of nine Creative Industries Cluster Programmes.

Research and development

Ruth McElroy, Professor of Creative Industries and Head of Research at the University of South Wales, picked up where Sarah left off by outlining the aims and objectives of the Clwstwr initiative.

She said: “Research and development (R&D) is the focus of our activity and what we’re seeking to do is to build and enhance a proper ecosystem for the screen sector.”

Against the assumptions that R&D is a purely scientific exercise, Professor McElroy explained how Clwstwr’s ambition is to support organisations who are early on in their R&D journeys get up to speed. The initiative will achieve this through knowledge exchange, research availability, infrastructure, funding, collaborative projects, networking and events.

Professor McElroy continued her presentation by providing some insight into why Clwstwr chose to focus on film and TV sector.

“Cardiff’s reputation is global in film and TV, and this has been a transformational decade. Between 2006 and 2016, the creative industries in Wales grew by 94.9%.”

Ruth McElroy Professor of Creative Industries and Head of Research at the University of South Wales

As Professor McElroy outlined in conclusion, this growth presents challenges and opportunities for Wales from the scale and skills of the workforce to financial incentives for production.

Driving innovation

The final presentation, delivered by Jarred Evans Director of PDR International Centre for Design and Research located within Cardiff Metropolitan University, shed light on Clwstwr’s proposed approach to driving innovation in South Wales’ screen industries.

Jarred outlined how PDR specialise in user-centred innovation. The organisation works with a range of customers to simplify innovation processes by understanding users, designing and prototyping, testing and launching products and services.

Throughout the lifecycle of the Clwstwr project, PDR hope to bring this bespoke level of support to organisational innovation so that their journeys results in a more focused, appropriate and commercially successful output.

“I think there’s a huge amount that Clwstwr can do for the creative industries, but there’s so much that industry can learn as well. So, part of Clwstwr’s job is to facilitate that knowledge exchange both ways for the rest of Wales.”

Jarred Evans Director of PDR International Centre for Design and Research

The presentations were followed by a question and answer session, which saw panel members address concerns around connectivity, technology, politics, policy, education and employment.

The Executive Education Breakfast Briefing Series is a network that enables business contacts to find out more about the latest research and key developments from industrial partners.

If you were unable to attend, catch up with this live stream of the event.

The next briefing, about the South Wales Metro Project, is on Wednesday 10 July 2019 and will see Professor Mark Barry and Colin Lea review the progress to date, and the opportunities which exist beyond the funded plans.