Nottingham creative and digital industries initiative

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In the past decade, Nottingham has seen a remarkable transformation of its creative and digital landscape. Creative and digital encompasses considerable breadth and diversity of practice – ranging from craft-based and creative practices such as music, dance, and theatre all the way to design based practices such as fashion, graphic design, advertising through to digital technology driven practices such as animation, games and virtual reality. Nottingham’s creative and digital sector is made up of 2,000 businesses and 14,000 employees. Research has shown that this sector has grown faster in Nottingham than it has in most other core cities since 2015, both in employment and Gross Value Added (GVA). At the core of this flourishing sector are the organisations that exemplify what has come to be known as Createch – those businesses at the intersection of the creative and digital process.

Key drivers of Nottingham’s Creative and digital transformation have been the revitalisation of Sneinton Market, long-standing business support programmes delivered by the Universities and the City Council, and investment in institutions like Confetti, Confetti X and Metronome. These initiatives have collectively elevated Nottingham’s standing as a creative and digital hub in the UK.

To further understand what is driving the sector’s development, Nottingham Trent University, University of Nottingham and Nottingham City Council have come together in a unique collaboration. Our partnership will devise strategies to sustain and support the continued growth of creative and digital businesses in Nottingham.

Through this collaboration, we have engaged in two initiatives:

  1. We have explored the sector’s growth drivers and the challenges it faces. We have gained deep insight into long-standing business challenges; response and adaptation to contemporary challenges such as the pandemic, inflation and rising interest rates; and what makes Nottingham an attractive and supportive environment for creative and digital businesses. This research was based on online surveys, interviews and focus groups with 125 creative and digital businesses across the wider Nottingham area. Our findings will inform policymakers on how best to support the sector locally.
  2. Building on our studies into the sector, we are launching Create Growth N2 , a programme made up of a wider partnership and focused on supporting the creative and digital industries in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. The programme will provide CreaTech businesses with much-needed access to private investment and scale-up advice. This is proof of our extended collaboration that has secured government funding to support local businesses.

In our upcoming blog posts, we will delve deeper into the findings of our study and highlight the critical factors behind the sector’s local growth. We will share new findings into the unique challenges and characteristics of the sector and highlight some of the nuances hidden beneath the umbrella term creative and digital.

For example, according to our survey respondents, Nottingham’s greatest advantage is its cultural offer and vibrancy – followed closely by its universities.

We will uncover what attracts businesses to the area, why they choose to stay here, their relationship with the local talent pool and customer base, and what sets Nottingham apart from the creative and digital capital of the country, and other larger cities.

Our blog series will culminate in the release of a ‘state of the sector’ report. The report will serve as a valuable resource to help policymakers, funding bodies, investors and businesses understand what drives sector growth. It will also provide a roadmap for collaborative efforts to seize the significant investment and growth opportunities this sector presents.

Stay tuned as we unveil Nottingham’s creative and digital success story.