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Mapping the R&D landscape for creative technologies

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Creative technologies (“CreaTech”) will play an increasingly big role driving innovation and growth in the creative industries. The pandemic has only accelerated investment and interest in CreaTech, particularly in culture, entertainment, communication and ecommerce markets.

An example of CreaTech is Virtual Reality, a technology with a wide range of uses, from consumer products like VR headsets, to software to help architects visualise and plan their building projects.

Previous research from Tech Nation, that complements research from the PEC, has found that there is a growing demand for employees who can fill CreaTech roles. Increasingly, businesses are looking to hire people that can combine the creativity and technology skills that are intrinsic to CreaTech.

This new research paper, from Nesta and PEC researcher Juan Mateos-Garcia, and supported by the AHRC, approaches CreaTech from a new angle. Through an analysis of the largest public research database, Gateway to Research (GtR), and using machine learning methods, the paper examines and maps the spread of CreaTech activities – research, investment, and innovation – around the UK.

The research explores the amount of publicly funded CreaTech R&D, the sectors and organisations involved in CreaTech, and the way in which CreaTech research and investment has evolved over time.

Map illustrating the concentration of CreaTech projects around the UK

The research finds that:

  • Createch activity isn’t just in the creative industries: more than half of organisations involved in createch projects are in SIC codes outside the creative industries
  • IT, Software and Computer services is the biggest creative sector participant in createch projects, accounting for 62% of creative projects
  • Research into createch is accelerating at a rapid pace. In 2020, createch projects represented 3.6% of the total in GtR – a 50% increase compared with 2019. 4
  • Many of the createch research projects have responded to challenges and opportunities created by the COVID-19 crisis. 40% of the createch projects started in 2020 mention terms related to COVID-19, compared with 10% of non-createch projects.
  • Most createch research happens in a few, concentrated places around the UK, mainly London, the South East, and Edinburgh. Createch research projects are even more geographically concentrated than other research activities involving the creative industries: the top ten locations account for 65% of createch research compared with 49% of non-createch creative research.
  • Createch projects tend to have a higher degree of disciplinary crossover than a baseline of projects involving creative industries outside of createch.
  • Large public institutions including libraries and museums and particularly the BBC play a central role in createch collaboration networks.

Download the insight paper

You can get in touch with the author on twitter @JMateosGarcia

Please reference this paper as:

Mateos-Garcia, J. (2021) Mapping the R&D landscape for creative technologies. London: Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and Nesta.

Available from:

Image by XR Expo on Unsplash

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