Understanding Createch R&D

30 November 2022

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Dr Josh Siepel, 

Dr Josh Siepel

Hasan Bakhshi, 

Hasan Bakhshi

Director of the PEC and Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics at Nesta

Dr Martha Bloom, 

Dr Martha Bloom

Dr Jorge Velez Ospina

Dr Jorge Velez Ospina

This report makes for a timely contribution for UK policymakers as they revisit growth priorities for the creative industries.

Createch is a term that has been used broadly to characterise the role of technology- driven innovation in the creative industries. While createch’s potential has garnered much attention, it has lacked precise definition and remains comparatively underexplored empirically. This report aims to propose a practicable definition of ‘createch’ business for researchers and policymakers that is easily implemented and scalable, and to understand the differences in R&D investments, activities and practices between createch and other technology firms.

The report finds that createch and other tech companies have similar profiles in terms of employment, turnover and growth. Furthermore, their levels of investment in R&D (and therefore R&D expressed as a % of sales, or R&D intensity) are also broadly of the same magnitude. We find that on the whole createch businesses are no less likely to be able to access finance than tech companies, and more generally that they perceive the same barriers to R&D (and in order of importance) as perceived by other tech firms.

However, createch firms are found to be much more likely to make use of user-centred design technologies and realtime game engines or virtual production environments in their R&D activities. They are also significantly more likely to invest in R&D via spending on staff and contractor time than investing in physical assets or equipment. Strikingly, they are much less like to rely on specialised R&D departments and manage and account for their R&D using dedicated budgets, but instead are more likely to have
R&D roles distributed across individuals within the organisation who do not have R&D roles specified in their job titles. Createch firms also on average employ more freelancers for R&D than tech companies.

As createch firms have a similar growth trajectory to that of other tech firms, the report argues their future growth potential should be prioritised, in the same way UK policymakers have prioritised other tech firms in recent years.

Image credit: Werner du Plessis, Unsplash