The Government has recently published its latest Sector Deal as part of its Industrial Strategy, a programme which aims to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future.
The Creative Industries Sector Deal seeks to unlock growth for creative businesses in the UK, an industry which accounts for £92 billion in Gross Value Added and is growing twice as fast as the economy as a whole. The measures set out in the report focus on four of the five foundations of the Industrial Strategy: Business environment, Ideas, Places and People.
The Sector Deal aims to address the continued fight against online piracy, and the barriers creative businesses face in attracting investment, particularly outside of London.
The Government proposes to build on the UK’s world-leading IP strength by working with industry to organise new roundtables between (i) rights holders and the online advertising industry, (ii) social media and user upload platforms, and (iii) online marketplaces, to assess the evidence of infringement, and agree further action to reduce online infringement and the associated incentives.
In order to address the imbalance between investment in London and the rest of the country, the Government announced in last year’s Autumn Budget that the British Business Bank (BBB) will launch a regional angel co-investment fund. This fund, set to launch within the coming months, complements the BBB’s existing equity schemes and will match-fund syndicates of angel investors, helping to fuel investment in the across the country. Further, with Brexit on the horizon, a new creative industries Trade and Investment Board will develop and oversee delivery of an export strategy which will aim to achieve an increase of 50% in creative industries exports by 2023 from 2018.
By investing, with the support of industry, an estimated £58m over three years via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund in an Audience of the Future Challenge, and £64m in the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Government seeks to increase R&D in the sector by breaking down the barriers to innovation that many creative businesses face e.g. a heavy reliance on IP-heavy business assets which are not always recognised as collateral. This investment, together with the formation of a Creative Industries R&D Working Group (with members from industry and, amongst others, HMRC, BEIS and Innovate UK), hopes to address the UK’s comparatively smaller investment in R&D as a percentage of GDP (1.7%) compared to the USA (2.8%) and Germany (2.9%).
The report acknowledges the unequal distribution of opportunities, skills, finances and creative jobs between London and the South East and the remainder of the country. To try and combat this disparity, the Government has committed, among other measures, an additional £21 million to the highly successful Tech City UK to widen its support of digital companies and start-ups across the UK, so it will become Tech Nation.
Human creativity and ingenuity are at the core of the creative industry and the Government proposes a number of measures to establish a technical education system that rivals the best in the world. These include an industry-led creative careers programme to improve awareness and understanding of the jobs in the sector, the establishment of the London Screen Academy by Working Title Films, and monitoring the impact of the Apprenticeship Levy and analysis of all apprenticeship starts.
This Sector Deal will be welcome news for businesses in the creative industry and comes at a time when the UK’s departure from the EU is looming ever closer. The measures set out in the report aim to retain and strengthen the UK’s position as a world leader in IP protection and an exporter of creation. How Brexit will affect the creative sector, however, remains to be seen and industry, as well as Government, will have to work to ensure that its position isn’t lost.