The Pilot Action aims to learn from the process of developing and implementing expert consultancy support to small and mid-sized SMEs, linking creative industries with traditional industry groups. The decline of traditional industries affects the supply chain, ability to innovate and scope for knowledge sharing among some sectors of the creative industries. The problem addressed was broadly to enhance the supply chain of the creative industries, fostering innovation upstream; inter-relationship between CI subsectors; and the ability of CIs to market themselves on a national and international scale.
Partners Involved: Nottingham-Flanders
Stakeholders involved: Nottingham Trent University – Design Center “De Winkelhaak”
Additional stakeholders: MOMU (Flanders); College of Art and Design and Built environment and School of Media and Communications; the Hive (NTU); Nottingham City Council; EMTEX/ Designer Forum; D2N2: Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership
Overall task of the Pilot
The Pilot Action Plan intended to deepen with Flanders Region some of their experiences/best practices, in order to identify possible ways to implement, also in Nottingham, some processes which could successfully support the above mentioned crossover actions. In particular, the focus was on these contexts:
Der Winkelhaak: Materio
Exploration of the strategic aspects of setting up the materials library, who the stakeholders are, users and how this fits into a broader policy framework
Der Winkelhaak: Business Incubator
Exploring opportunities to share knowledge and transfer experience between the Design Centre and The Hive (NTU business incubator and entrepreneurship coaching centre), in particular supporting future planning to enable The Hive to become less dependent upon public funds and enhance opportunities to offer business support.
Der Winkelhaak: Showcase and shop
Learning about de Winkelhaak public facing activities of showcasing and retailing the products developed by interns and businesses working at the centre.
A number of visits have taken place to the Flanders region, visiting each of the coaching partners in turn.
Der Winkelhaak: Materio.
- understand how the library was set up, including gathering materials, classifying and display
- learning about access to the library, how it is managed and maintained;
- evaluation of the relationship between the physical materials and technical support information;
- understanding about the relationship with partner institutions and any opportunities for future collaboration.
Der Winkelhaak: Business Incubator
- Understanding more about the nature of the businesses participating in the Centre, external funding and capital support;
- Life-cycle analysis to explore the centre’s progression from set-up through to financial independence;
- Fund-raising and income streams
- A pragmatic view of future plans, opportunities and constraints.
Der Winkelhaak: Showcase and shop
- Deepening a possible strategy for supporting creative businesses to promote themselves and maximise their position within the market
- Involvement of MOMU (Antwerp) as an additional stakeholder (Momu have agreed to this) and our schools of Art & Design and Media & Communications, exchanging experiences and developing future plans for the improved, contemporary and creative promotion of our traditionally based creative industries.
In practice the Pilot Action has been carried out in combination with the other Pilot Actions in which NTU has been involved. There has in particular been synergy between the Pilot concerned with coaching and entrepreneurship, which is a theme shared by the coaching partners De Winkelhaak and Flanders DC, as well as The Hive and Confetti in Nottingham.
The stakeholders were broader than those originally foreseen. Nottingham has actively worked with:
Nottingham City Council; the D2N2 local economic partnership, East Midlands Media and their extended group of stakeholders (English Heritage, Sport England, Arts Council England), and a range of public and private sector organisations through strategy and working groups.
There have also been a number of outcomes not foreseen at the start of the process, including:
- An action plan for a collaboration to support ‘advanced’ or stage 2 entrepreneurship - potentially involving The Hive at NTU and other partners from this and the coaching pilot
- Contract research undertaken for East Midlands Media to explore the crossovers between cultural and creative economies; cultural/creative economy with wellbeing and health; and to assess the economic impact of Nottingham/Derby’s creative economy
- Transferability of schemes from the learning partners in Arnhem and Treviso, as well as other Organza partners into the new policy context in Nottingham. These include investment funding, retail/workspace developments and new incubation approaches.
There are more opportunities for cross-over than originally anticipated. These include within creative industry sectors; creative industry to traditional industries; cultural and creative industries; creative industries with entrepreneurship; creative industries with city branding.
Purpose and scope was clearly defined from the beginning? Overall mission achieved? The focus was clearly shared between NTU and the coaching partners, on deepening tools, experiences, best practices in order to develop links between some of the more traditionally based creative industries: fashion, product design, furniture, interiors, printing… and linking these with contemporary solutions from within the creative industry cluster, for example in terms of materials, sustainability, marketing and promotions.
Success factors have included the level of transparency and openness of the coaching partners – especially de Winkelhaak. This has helped to create a spirit of collaboration, which is essential to overcome the failure factors – predominantly that the process of becoming acquainted, sharing ideas, and transferring these takes time and to some extent relies on personal characteristics and aptitudes.
The original coaching partner – Humin – was unable to commit to the project, so a substitute was identified (Flanders DC). This has inevitably caused a delay and also reduced the interest of the learning partner in Navarra. Reciprocal visits to the UK have not taken place, for a number of reasons, including the rapidly changing policy landscape in Nottingham. However, alternative ways of maintaining contact and networking have been carried out to coincide with the Organza dissemination programme. Continued dialogue is considered essential for long term benefit.
The proper target group has been identified? As previously mentioned, the focus was on developing links between some of the more traditionally based creative industries and linking these with contemporary solutions from within the creative industry cluster. The proper stakeholders have been involved, in order to benefit in the larger extent from the coaching partners support.
In these uncertain times, the greatest foreseen challenge was in gaining any organisational buy in towards developing and implementing strategy, however attractive, needed or beneficial it may appear to be. To this end, we have focused on activities for which NUT had a current level of institutional commitment and interest, but also with the objective to engage with both public and private sector stakeholders to further the inception and implementation stages.
A key activity of the pilot will be generating the partnerships, evidence of both need and success to support the process of identifying and securing resources for continued development of the outcome projects.
The policy agenda in Nottingham substantially changed in July 2012. The attached annex details the developments. This means that resource for delivery of actions is secured, creating a better opportunity for transferability, but the Target Group is at present fluid, with some stakeholders effectively ‘in’ and others ‘out’ of the loop. It is essential to see the agenda change from policy conception to delivery, in which case this shifting will take place again. It is at this stage that there is the maximum opportunity to influence the target group.
In summary NTU has engaged with:
- NTU: 9 stakeholders in departments: Economics, Marketing, International Business, Fashion and textiles, Future Factory, Media and Communications (including Dean and Head of College)
- NTU’s: HIVE incubator unit (3 stakeholders)
- Nottingham City Council: 5 members of economic development team, and one councillor
- East Midlands Media: 1 representative – with potential links to 3 major UK wide stakeholders
- Confetti Media Group: 2 stakeholders representing Confetti and Antenna
- Retail Business Improvement District (BID)
- Experience Nottingham
- Akins Property Management
- Local creative businesses
Any budget matters? The budget allocated for the Pilot Action Plan was suitable to pursue what planned, as described, also with the possibility to widen the outcomes.
The further sustainability and development of crossover actions are strictly connected to the implementation strategy which will be adopted within the new political scenario in Nottingham.
The Risks foreseen have occurred? How they have been managed? The project started by engaging a number of internal stakeholders and its influence is broadening out through these individuals, as well as the specific efforts of the project team. This does however take time, and we were particularly aware that with changes taking place at a City wide level the agenda is not NUT to set and timescales cannot be forced. It is also apparent, that engaging with selected internal stakeholders had still left gaps in the Pilot plan, which could have been addressed with the benefit of hindsight. For example, NTU’s senior managers that have been involved in generic policy support with the City Council, were not those with which NUT had engaged to promote Creative Industries support. This situation has created sensitivity beyond the Organza project and is being addressed.
Possible further cooperation with municipality? As mentioned, the policy agenda in Nottingham substantially changed in July 2012 (see attached annex). It is clear that there will be resources for .delivery of actions, sustaining an effective transferability and further activities related to the CI support and development, but it is important to see how the policy framework will be concretely implemented.