Unveiling Creativity for Innovation in Europe, European Commission

Project Details

Description was a research project supported by a €3m grant from the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission (Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities). Taking place between February 2013 and April 2016, this multi-partner and multi-disciplinary project sought to unveil the significance of creativity and cultural and creative industries in Europe and beyond.

The research involved eleven partners from Europe’s leading universities and research institutes, with strong track records in examining the economics and management of creativity, design and innovation, many also having strong links to research in the arts and humanities. The consortium included some of the world’s leading scholars on creativity, design, innovation, intellectual property rights, entrepreneurship, the economics of innovation and industrial dynamics. Furthermore, many partners have extensive experience of engaged scholarship and disseminating research findings to practitioners and policy makers.

The project aimed to make a substantial step forward in the study of an important transformative mechanism of the European economy: creativity and its role in innovation. In particular, concrete progress was pursued in terms of methodologies and fresh and integrated approaches in the study of creativity and innovation, as well as in the dynamics of the cultural and creative industries.

This focused on the production of data sets, policy briefs and tools, as well as academic articles and books. Above all, the project aimed to enhance the state of knowledge and understanding of the nature and characteristics of creativity and innovation, the cultural and creative industries, and their role in shaping the future European economy and society. It sought to provide important and reliable evidence regarding the emergence, promotion and stimulation of creativity in relation to innovation in Europe, and how creativity-based entrepreneurship contributes to economic growth and wellbeing. In this respect, the project aimed to be a highly valuable and original source of knowledge and understanding for the research, business and policymaking communities at both the EU and national/regional levels.

Key findings

The project was organised into six connected themes, the findings for which are summarised below.

Theme 1 - Identifying, mapping, and measuring the creative industries: Our work here found that while significant foundations have been laid, there is a need for a harmonised understanding of what the creative (and cultural) industries are. The ‘creative intensities’ approach, which is based on the share of creative workers in an industry, offers a pragmatic first step to identifying these. There is also a need to develop measures of innovation more suitable to creative and symbolic activities; a need to understand innovation inputs other than R&D, such as design, and a need to be better understand the inter-connections between the creative industries and the wider economy.

Theme 2 – Modes, and models of creativity, design, and innovation: Our studies in this area emphasise aspects of innovation that are often severely underplayed, including symbolic (rather than functional) innovations; the significance of time and the sequencing of events in generating innovations; the role of individual and collective agency, and the significance of combining efforts such as through social movements or ‘radical circles’. While these characteristics are not unique to the creative industries, they are particularly prominent in these settings.

Theme 3 – Entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial firms and industrial dynamics in the creative industries: Our studies in this theme found high rates of innovation, combined with a common reluctance to pursue growth, especially in terms of employment, among creative industry firms. Also particularly notable is the importance of the social contexts within which businesses operate, and the heavy use of freelancers and networks, suggesting that very often creative industry firms are in effect substantially larger than they appear. Such practices may become more widespread in the future.

Theme 4 – Digital platforms and ecosystems and the blurring of production and consumption: Notable from the research conducted by the project in this area is that digital technologies are being incorporated by firms in a variety of ways and that digital platform technologies are breaking down the distinction between producers and consumers. Some firms are devising sophisticated strategies to enrol unpaid contributions from the public. However, while users increasingly have the potential to be active, only a small minority are, which may potentially lead to disproportionate or biased responses by firms.

Theme 5 – Intellectual property rights (IP) and IP protection: In this theme we examined intellectual property rights and innovation behaviour, with a particular emphasis on trademarks and registered designs. We found that both trademarks and registered designs can protect and signal innovations, but there are generally weak connections between the use of these rights and innovation performance, such that considerable care needs to be taken when using these rights as indicators of innovation, and using them to understand innovation behaviours.

Theme 6 – Policy issues and recommendations: Here we reviewed the policy issues arising from the research findings and developed policy recommendations. Overall, we urge governments to separate innovation policies from science and research policies. Innovation policies should address issues of inclusion and impact, as well as output.

Marshall, N. Sapsed, J. and Kanellou, D. (2016) ‘Beyond the art/industry divide? Varieties of change in the animation industry’. Paper presented to Sub-Theme 13 ‘Collective Powers for Renewal in Creative Industries’ of the 32nd EGOS Colloquium, Naples, Italy, 7-9 July 2016.
Marshall, N., Kanellou, D. and Sapsed, J. (2016) ‘Creative regimes: Building a taxonomy of creative industry innovation.’ Project Report, Deliverable 2.1.3(R), June 2016.
Sapsed, J. and Christian, J. (2016) ‘Changing digital engagement: Games and Apps.’ Project Report, Deliverable 4.2.3(R), June 2016.
Sapsed, J. and Marshall, N. (2015) ‘Mapping and measuring CCIs, their innovations, and wider connections.’ Project Report, Deliverable 2.1.4, August 2015.
Effective start/end date1/02/1330/04/16


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