Creative firms and trade

04 November 2021

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Dr Salvatore Di Novo, 

Dr Salvatore Di Novo

Research Associate at Newcastle University

Dr Salvatore Di Novo is a Research Associate at Ne...

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Professor Giorgio Fazio, 

Professor Giorgio Fazio

Research Director of Creative PEC and Chair of Macroeconomics at Newcastle University Business School

Giorgio Fazio is an applied economist with experti...

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​Dr Sara Maioli

​Dr Sara Maioli

Senior Lecturer in Economics and Director of Post-Graduate Research at Newcastle University Business School

Dr Sara Maioli is an applied economist with expert...

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The implications for policymakers emerging from this work are explored in our Policy Briefing: The Creative Industries in the UK’s Export Strategy.

The evidence base on the international trade in the Creative Industries is still partial and characterised by several gaps. We know that official statistics are unable to capture all creative industries’ trade, particularly that which happens online. The Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre has, therefore, been seeking new data sources to better understand the opportunities and risks which policymakers need to be aware of with regards to questions of creative trade. 

This paper makes use of a survey that was collected by the consultancy firm BVA BDRC on behalf of the Creative Industries Council for their Access to Finance Report. 

Naturally this questionnaire is very rich with information on finance, but it also contains additional items on several other topics, including trade. The survey of consists of 575 firms mapped into one of the nine creative sectors, as defined by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Advertising and Marketing; Architecture; Crafts; Design and designer fashion; Film, TV, video, radio and photography; IT, software, computer services and computer games; Publishing; Museums, galleries and libraries; Music, performing and visual arts.

Findings from the survey include:

  • Creative firms seem to be quite active in the international markets and keen to be even more active.
  •  Exporters tend to be concentrated in London and the South East but regional export exposure is higher in regions like Scotland and the North West, where the highest shares of respondents seem to be internationally active. 
  • Businesses tend to be different also when it comes to size, profitability and customer-orientation (B2B vs B2C). The share of businesses selling B2C and both B2B and B2C is significantly higher among the exporters. 
  • Exporting is associated with owners/managers who are middle aged or older and with older businesses. Greater international penetration is, however, associated with older businesses but younger owners/managers. 
  • The gender gap observed in other business areas in the CIs, emerges also when it comes to exporting. 
  • Innovation seems to be key. Exporters tend to have innovated in the past in both products/services and organisation and are also more likely to plan product and process innovations than non-exporters. 
  • A higher share of exporters indicates that they have benefited from some form of tax relief. 

Please reference this paper as:

Di Novo, S; Fazio, G and Maioli, S. (2021) Creative firms and trade. London: Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and Newcastle University. Available from:

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