10 Dec 2013

UK Creative Firms Urged to Look Overseas

The UK’s creative industries are a British success story. Representing the largest creative sector in Europe, accounting for 6.2% of the UK economy and employing more than two million people, it is set to play a starring role in the development of the British economy in the coming years.

But could more be done to encourage creative firms to expand overseas? The Government thinks so, and has unveiled an ambitious initiative to encourage British creative firms to tap into overseas markets to land more than £500 million of overseas contracts in the next three years.

Encompassing advertising, computer games, textiles, design, film and video, music, the performing arts, publishing, software, TV and radio and a whole lot more, collectively the UK’s diaspora of creative firms already generate more than £36 billion a year for the UK economy – £70,000 every minute. But their full potential is much larger than that.

Creative taskforce

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) is to support a ‘taskforce’ of the UK’s top 100 creative firms, including the British Museum, advertising agency ADCreative London and sports architecture specialist Populous, to win high-value contracts in a comprehensive three-year support programme.

It is all part of the Exporting is Great initiative, launched in November this year, which aims to get 100,000 more UK businesses exporting.

UK creative firms already have a strong foothold in western Europe where their skills are highly valued. The UKTI initiative is encouraging companies to look beyond Europe at new markets – like Russia and Brazil – where demand for creative services is on the rise.

Each company in the taskforce – which spans the transport, healthcare, retail, cultural developments and global sports sectors – will benefit from its own international expansion plan and a minimum of two overseas visits each year to target new projects.

How can creative firms target overseas markets?

  • Develop a formal expansion strategy
  • Undertake effective target market research
  • Offer accurately translated website content to connect with customers

Thinking global

Random42 is a medical animation company based in Haymarket.

The firm creates stunning 3D animations that take viewers on immersive journeys: think travelling with red blood cells to explore cardiovascular concerns or down airways to illustrate respiratory issues.

It recently decided to try and go global and, with the help of UKTI, exhibited at some of the leading trade shows in the biotech industry and went on trade missions.

“People think too nationally,” said the firm’s creative director Hugo Paice.

“Everything can now be done on a global level. So don’t think of yourself as a UK company but as a global company with access to companies all over the world. A really good website is your shop window.”

‘Growing appetite’

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The growing appetite for British design offers many opportunities for innovative firms of all sizes to boost their overseas trade and attract new investment.

“From airport interiors to ground-breaking medical devices and design exhibitions, the creative industries account for around £1 in every £10 of the UK’s exports and are crucial to building a stronger economy.”


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