Why we think it’s time for a European innovation support network for the CCI

Nina Klein, Associate Partner of the Frankfurt Book Fair, and THE ARTS+ founder Holger Volland are the brains (and hands!) behind the European perspective of THE ARTS+.

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Why are you launching THE ARTS+ Innovation Summit?


The creative sectors now face a common challenge in the shape of digitization and new technologies such as virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), 3-D printing and big data. But as well as being a common challenge, these things also represent a shared opportunity. There are more than 10 separate sectors that make up the creative and cultural industries (CCI), and until now the players in each of these sectors have been trying to cope with the challenges all on their own.

Does it have to be like that? We think there is a very good argument for having a European innovation support network for the CCI, which brings together public and private sources of support. Why? Because it takes a huge effort to give these sectors the boost they need, and to make sure technology can trigger innovations at all levels – products, services, processes, organisational culture, business models, and much more besides. We think the task is too big for CCI players to tackle single-handedly, considering that most of them are small-scale entrepreneurs – often just one-person shows.

Another reason is that there’s huge public interest in the CCI, because of the impact they have on society (and on jobs and growth). That interest hasn’t yet been translated into a correspondingly big effort to support innovation in these industries. After all, ever since the financial crisis, public spending on cultural services has been declining across the EU.

So what is the starting point? Is there any innovation support for the CCI?

Not nearly enough. It’s still a very new area!

Overall awareness of the CCI is increasing within governments and administrations, at both national and EU levels, and the number of specific measures is also growing. The EU and national governments have done a lot of groundwork, and major EU funding programmes like Creative Europe and Horizon2020 mark a shift toward support for innovation within the CCI. For example, the EU Commission for Communications, Networks, Content & Technology (DG CNECT) currently backs the technology platform New European Media (NEM) with funding for its Vital Media project. This is expected to channel the needs of the creative and cultural industries for research, development and innovation. (That’s no easy task, when you realise that those needs first have to be formulated!) Another example of innovation support is the EU-funded project I3, which aims to encourage the market deployment of innovative research in the CCI.

At the end of last year, in a report titled A coherent EU Policy for the CCI, the European Parliament summed up the discussions around the CCI (including an impressive array of studies demonstrating their economic and social relevance). This report is a difficult read, but it is a fascinating one. Above all it represents a real breakthrough for the CCI, calling culture, art and creativity “the true asset of Europe in the world,” and demanding a “comprehensive industrial strategy at the European level that will take all specific characteristics of cultural and creative industries into account”.

We’re far from achieving coherency yet, but there are initiatives emerging at all levels. At the national level, almost every country now has business support organisations that focus increasingly on the CCI. Examples include the Regional Creative Industries Alliance in Austria, the Madrid Audiovisual ICT Cluster in Spain, the Digital Catapult in the UK and Cap Digital in France. There are also dedicated national agencies for the CCI, many of which are united by the European Creative Business Network (ECBN), and the quite unique Fitzcarraldo Foundation in Italy, which focuses on culture and policy.

Here in Germany, each federal state has its own publicly funded CCI initiative, and there’s an overarching federal initiative too. International organisations like OECD and UNESCO are active on behalf of the CCI as well.

With so many budding initiatives for the CCI, THE ARTS+ wants to help them network. We want to provide them with space to launch joint activities with a focus on innovation support. That is what third strand of THE ARTS+ Innovation Summit is all about, under its motto “A versatile approach to innovation”.

At the same time, however, there are also many entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries who don’t even know that support programmes like Creative Europe or Horizon2020 exist, and who are unaware that they can get financial support for innovation from the European Structural Funds, with an EU Cultural and Creative Sector Guarantee Facility, or through a business support agency.

Most creative entrepreneurs simply don’t have the time to think about innovation support. They’re caught up in their daily work, trying to ensure their businesses are up and running. Although the trade associations and intermediaries are now starting to raise the topic of innovation support more frequently on their agendas, for example with accelerators for publishing like ContentShift (organized by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association) it is still vital that the entrepreneurs’ voices get heard. That is something we’re hoping to achieve in our THE ARTS+ Salon event on the market impact of tech-triggered creativity.

We shouldn’t be surprised by the underdeveloped state of innovation support for the CCI. After all, the impact of digitization and new technologies on these industries is still very fresh. The first mass-market e-readers, which triggered the digitization of trade publishing, only came onto the market 10 years ago. Virtual reality might just be about to go mass-market now, as cheaper and more practical headsets become available. And 3-D printing still has some way to go to achieve a mass market impact.

Moreover, the CCI are highly fragmented. They’ve only recently started to “feel” the bond that unites them.  THE ARTS+ is one expression of this.

A decade ago, the different sectors that are about to mingle at THE ARTS+ Innovation Summit – including  publishing, games, design, film, museums and galleries – would hardly have felt any need to meet and exchange ideas. Now, with digitization and the growth of new technologies, that situation has changed.

Growing awareness: The CCI as a factor for jobs and growth in Europe

The European Commission has identified the creative and cultural industries (CCI) as sectors to watch and promote, in light of their burgeoning impact in terms of growth and jobs in Europe. In 2016, the European Parliament called for a “coherent policy for the CCI”, that would reflect their importance. CCIs (excluding high-end industries) constitute 11.2 % of all private enterprises, and they are responsible for 7.5 % of all jobs across the European economy as a whole. In all, CCIs account for more than three million enterprises employing over 12 million people. CCIs (excluding high-end industries) now generate 5.3 % of the total European Gross Value Added (GVA).

What do you want to achieve at the Summit?

This year, our aims are simple. We want to bring people and institutions together, to learn from each other and ask: What are the issues we have in common? How could innovation support help start-ups, individual entrepreneurs or small companies in all creative sectors? We want to get to know each other, and ideally, to establish the kernel of a European innovation support network. In the longer run, we want to strengthen the voice of the CCI on a European scale, when it comes to securing innovation support. In 2018, we’ll prepare a bigger and more political THE ARTS+ Innovation Summit, one that sets out specific demands and promotes ideas for a coherent EU policy to support innovation in the CCI.


Who will be at the Summit?

It will be a small group of around 60 people who are all keen to find ways of supporting technologically triggered innovation in the cultural and creative sectors. They will range from creative professionals and entrepreneurs, to the representatives of companies and intermediaries such as associations and cluster organisations, and policymakers.


The speakers include Ivan Ostrowicz of the ed-tech start-up Domoscio (France); Michael Döschner-Apostolidis, CEO of Holtzbrinck ePublishing (Germany); games expert Fabio Viola (Italy); Miguel Angel Doncel, CEO of the Spanish media developers SGO; experts from the European Commission, including Barbara Gessler of Creative Europe and Paolo Cesarini of Horizont2020; Karl Karst and Christine Merkel of UNESCO Germany, and many more.


As cooperation is the name of the game in this new CCI ecosystem, we are also working with strategic partners from across Europe: Fitzcarraldo Foundation/ArtLab (Italy); New European Media (NEM)/Madrid Network ICT Audiovisual Cluster (MAC) (Spain); I3European Creative Business Network (ECBN)/European Centre for Creative Economy (ecce); European Commission, Directorate General for Culture and Education (DG EAC)/Creative Europe.


We invite you to experience the European side of THE ARTS+ with us. Have a look at the programme!


ALDUS is the European Book Fairs’ network, fostering transnational mobility of European literary works and book professionals through joint events, dedicated networking and training activities. By experimenting with new interactive and engaging events formats ALDUS aims at building capacities in the areas of internationalization, translation, digital shift and audience development, helping book professionals to develop their careers internationally. The partnership features two leading international trade book fairs (Frankfurt and Bologna) and a rich variety of national book fairs (Rome, Vilnius, Riga, Lisbon and Bucharest). The network will be increasingly developed throughout the project to reach a pan-European level. Aldus is a project co-funded by the European Union under the Creative Europe programme; it will run from June 2016 to September 2019.


THE ARTS+ is organized as part of ALDUS – European Book Fairs’ Network, and is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union