One of the most interesting growth sectors currently emerging in the Northwest business economy is the aptly named 'creative industries' cluster, which encompasses everything from arts and crafts to cutting-edge animation and cinematography. According to Vivienne Upcott-Gill, founder/manager of the Northwest Regional Development Agency's equity advisory service, TEChINVEST, more and more of these companies are springing up across the region and this trend reflects the bigger picture across the UK.
"We've already seen a massive shift from traditional manufacturing into more service-based industries over recent years," she comments. "Now, as the service sector matures, we're seeing a number of areas showing significant growth, including creative industries. Growth in the creative sector is a clear indicator of the region's rich cultural heritage combining with its enterprising businesses, and it is very encouraging to see new companies drawing on this to generate new business and employment opportunities across the Northwest."
According to research analysts Burns Collett, even the recent popular TV programme 'Dragons Den' highlighted the inexorable rise of the creative sector. "Interesting, over 50% of actual investments made during the series were actually in creative industries," points out Marc Collett, "and of a total investment value of £755,000, some £460,000 was in the same sector. Pretty impressive statistics!"
The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) is so convinced of the potential for further expansion in this sector that it identified it as one of the region's key growth targets, developing a range of financial and business support services to help growing businesses. However, Vivienne Upcott-Gill warns that these companies must put themselves forward if they are to benefit from the funds potentially available to them.
"Both our business angel network and our seed and equity funds have been keen to invest in these sorts of businesses," she adds, "providing expert advice and funding to help them develop. We have already helped film production companies to produce award-winning
short and feature films, as well as supporting new start-ups and further expansion in music, fashion and design. Just a few months ago, the North West Seed Fund and a number of private investors came together to invest £225,000 in a new film company, Made Up North Productions, indicating that there is still plenty of interest in this sector.
"However, creative companies must be 'in it to win it'...they must let us know who and where they are so that we can work with them to advise on the most appropriate sources of funding and help them raise the money that they need. With the major conurbations of Liverpool and Manchester in our region, as well as the national treasure that is Cumbria, we have a vast cultural heritage and should be leading the UK in terms of our creative industries."
In addition to its regional and national register of business angels interested specifically in businesses here in the Northwest, TEChINVEST also provides an initial gateway into the £200 million plus currently available through NWDA-initiated or funded seed and venture capital funds, and other public sector funds. These have been developed specifically for new and growing businesses and many of them provide opportunities for co-investment and the unlocking of larger sums over the longer term.
For further information on the opportunities available to creative entrepreneurs and businesses operating in the Northwest and wishing to grow their businesses, please contact the TEChINVEST team direct on 01925 400301/2/3 or visit our website: http://www.techinvest.org.
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Press contact: Deborah Garritty @ Bell Pottinger North
+ 44 (1625) 506411 / 506444