Published on 30 November 2016
A £4m project which will unlock the potential of the North East's creative, digital and IT (CDIT) sector will be officially launched this Thursday, 1 December.
Creative Fuse North East is a unique partnership between our region's five universities. Specialist academics and staff will work with industry, cultural organisations, charities and the public sector to explore how CDIT firms complement and add value to each other, sharing best practice and encouraging the adoption of new innovative working practices. This will ensure the sector becomes more resilient and grows faster – creating more and better jobs for the region.
The project will be launched on Thursday, 1 December, by former Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, the Right Hon Ed Vaizey MP, who has been appointed Chairman of the Creative Fuse North East Advisory Board.
"The growth of the Creative, Digital and IT sector is absolutely vital for the economy", said Mr Vaizey. "However, as many of these businesses are small they often lack the knowledge, experience or the resources to grow, innovate and reach their full potential.
"For this reason I am thrilled to be able to play a part in Creative Fuse North East. This partnership of five universities has the potential to make a real and long lasting impact on these businesses, the wider region and provide a real boost to its economy."
The scheme will also look at how skills in the CDIT sector can be transferred to other areas, for example placing creative practitioners within other sectors such as transport or health.
Jason Legget, Project Director of Creative Fuse North East said: "We have an unprecedented opportunity here to do things differently and see some real results. This isn't about academics and experts telling companies what to do. It is about using all the different expertise from these five respected institutions in new and unexpected ways; taking the things we learn and experience and finding out how they can benefit other industries too. It is incredibly exciting."
Professor Eric Cross, Dean of Cultural Affairs at Newcastle University said: "One of the strengths of our region is that many people are very creative and very innovative but often companies don't know how to take the next step to diversify or grow. The expertise our universities have to offer will allow this to happen. The result will not just be a thriving economy but, just as importantly, a wider boost for the region's cultural scene."
Professor Arabella Plouviez, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland added: "This is an exciting opportunity for researchers here at Sunderland to develop new fusions between subject areas, across institutions and to work creatively with business across the region.
"Bringing so much knowledge and experience together in this way provides an opportunity for a real boost to our creative industries, and for Sunderland which is already engaged in new developments through the City of Culture bid, this couldn¹t have started at a better time."
The first phase of the project will take place between now and Christmas, with the most comprehensive research study of the region's CDIT sector ever undertaken. It will engage with thousands of businesses, organisations, freelancers and institutions, developing a detailed understanding of what makes the North East community unique and helping to identify ways it can be developed.
The data from this survey will be compiled and analysed by a team of specialists from across the five universities – Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham, Sunderland and Teeside - and the findings will be used to inform and shape a series of specialist Innovation Pilots scheduled to be delivered 2017-18.
Creative Fuse North East builds on a similar project in Brighton launched in 2011. A report published in November 2015 highlighted that, as a result of the Brighton Fuse project's evidence that was used to lever European funding, Brighton and Hove's digital and creative economy is now worth more than £1 billion to the city each year. Research carried out by Brighton Fuse also showed that ‘fused' businesses grow three times faster than ‘unfused' businesses.