This month sees the launch of a new technology centre for the Creative Industries in Chile. It will be the first of its kind amongst an already existing national network of R&D centres for other productive sectors. It will target a growing base of SMEs working in the production of video games, audiovisual, music, publishing, design and other creative content industries.
The Creative Industries have become more prominent in Chilean development strategy in recent years. First, by replicating the early mapping exercises from the UK’S Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and later by adopting the whole notion of culture’s economic contribution in Chile’s system of public support agencies and in its industrial policy. Creative entrepreneurship, innovation, financing and exports are some of the topics that have been addressed by policymakers to date but research and development has remained untapped until now.
Not only for Chile, but globally, the Creative Industries have become ever more dependent on the evolution of digital technologies. In the 2000s, the most part of the production process in music, publishing, film, graphic design, etc. transitioned from analog to digital. Later in the 2010s, the emergence of a mature digital distribution market and business models replaced retail models. Chilean creators and producers depend on an exogenous rate of technological change, which has also accelerated tremendously.
Two decades of disruption have opened an opportunity for local creative industries. Major global publishing companies have greatly downsized their regional presence during this period. And the void has been filled by national independent companies, which have successfully developed a local ecosystem and an export base, capable of attracting new business and investment. In this period, Chile also experienced a series of social and economic transformations that enabled it to become a Latin American hub for business and Latin American regional operations.
Digital tools and platforms have created a window for creative output and services for emerging countries like Chile. But this is true for all countries, so it has also generated a lot of competition inside a rapidly changing landscape of digital skill sets and tech standards. The project to create an R&D centre for the Creative Industries in Chile stems from the need to coordinate the adoption of almost continuously changing technologies and a more integrated worldwide supply chain for creative content production.
R&D normally requires a volume of resources provided by large scale operations from big firms. But Chile’s Creative Industries are a heterogenous and disperse set of SME companies and independent professionals. The main purpose of the new R&D centre will be to coordinate Chile’ adoption of global tech standards adoption, and to promote local collaborative research and funding.
The immediate challenge is to catch up with the fourth industrial revolution and all of its consequences for digital content development, distribution and commercialization, which have become even more pressing with the COVID-19 crisis, as digital content consumption and production rises with confinement. As defined by McKinsey and the World Economic Forum, the main technologies that will impact the Creative Industries in the near future will be:
Virtual and augmented reality
For the time being, Chile is a technology follower country in these matters. But in any case, the list itself is bound to get quickly outdated. So, one of the main challenges is to create an institution with a heavier expertise in anticipation and foresight than in the technologies per se. This also means that there will be a lot of catching up, training and prototyping to do before engaging in basic research, which is nonetheless considered further ahead in the project.
Encouraging creative spillovers to other economic sectors are also of interest in Chile. Mining, Health, Construction, Tourism and Food industry all stand to gain from a relationship with Creative Industries through VR and AR production, to take but one example. These are all industries that are important to the Chilean economy, and are also represented in the same R&D centres network.
A more fundamental challenge is to upgrade our definitions of R&D and innovation so that they are fit for purpose for the Creative Industries. This is important because like other countries, Chile’s R&D subsidies and tax breaks follow the definitions of the OECD’S Frascati and Oslo manuals. Some important revisions to these definitions have already been proposed by Bakhshi and Lomas in the 2017 document ‘Defining R&D for the creative industries’, which could be applied locally from the Chilean Creative Industries R&D centre.
The project’s conception and its main goals
The project is being promoted by Chilecreativo, the national strategic program for the creative industries. The main funding is provided by CORFO, which is the economic development agency of the Ministry of Economy. Through this agency, the government will be investing around £7 million over the next 10 years.
The private sector will match this investment by funneling resources through a new consortium, which includes a mix of private companies from the creative sector, academic and research institutions, venture capital funds, intellectual property specialists and a regional development NGO. After a nationwide tender process, CORFO has selected a proposal lead by ‘Egroup’, a Chilean multi-Latina media and entertainment business.
The focus is on anticipating technological change that will affect the Creative Industries in the near future. This implies building a series of capacities in technology foresight, absorption, prototyping, standardizing, building skill sets around new standards, and nurturing new ventures that will spin off from the centre’s R&D activities.
We aim for Chile to become Latin America’s regional hub and local partner of choice for the latest and most innovative global projects in video games, VR, audiovisual, animation, and other technologies by offering an ecosystem that’s consistently on the technological frontier for content creation.