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R&D, design and innovation: Examining the links in the creative industries

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This paper provides policymakers, academics, and creative industry organisations with one of the first analyses of how much creative industries organisations are investing in R&D and engaging in innovation activities. 

It finds that some of these activities and investments are highly valuable and have a big impact on creative industries organisations (CIOs), while others have a much lower impact and aren’t worth the investment. It ends with a set of recommendations for how policymakers and managers can raise the rate and impact of innovations in creative industry organisations.

Identifying ‘creative industries’ or ‘creative occupations’ can be challenging. Since the establishment of the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) in 1997, which was given a new responsibility for the’ creative industries’, policymakers and academics have spent considerable effort agreeing on definitions of ‘creative’ and designing frameworks to assign economic activities and organisations to creative categories.

One of the core objectives of the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre is to build on this work and establish a strong evidence base for the value of the creative industries, and their unique contribution to the economy. Despite being one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, and contributing over £115bn a year to the UK, we still haven’t got a clear picture for how good CIO’s are at innovation and research and development. 

This is an important research topic. Although CIO’s can operate in quite different ways to organisations in other sectors of the economy, they are still businesses, and can face similar challenges. 

This paper is an analysis of the responses to a survey from DCMS carried out in 2020, designed to find out how much research and development activities were being undertaken by creative industries organisations. The survey was completed by 625 creative industry organisations based in the UK, 89% of which were firms. 

Please reference this paper as:

Tether, B. (2021) R&D, design and innovation: Examining the links in the creative industries. London: Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and the University of Manchester. Available from:

Photo by Luke Tanis on Unsplash

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