round table

Status update: review and outlook

The last months were pretty turbulent for us and we are still working on documenting the different events for you to read about them here on our blog: After the barcamp in early September, we immediately began working on our booksprint, travelled to Copenhagen for CKO‘s and InVio‘s international day of innovation concentrating on cross innovation and contributed with a presentation on C2C’s first findings in this field. We also held the second meeting of our advisory board in Potsdam to discuss the relevance of our research findings and the findings from the barcamp and hosted a workshop for discussing the possibilities of developing a new format for cross innovation, collaboration and knowledge transfer between local companies and universities in Brandenburg.

Next Monday, we will be in Vigevano, Italy, for our third expert round table meeting. This time, the topic is: “Cross Innovation – which potentials lie at the intersection between arts, creativity and business?”. We have invited experts on the field from all involved regions and countries and will discuss the first results from Prof. Giovanni Schiuma’s study on the topic and try to identify further challenges, potentials and possible trends.

Right after this meeting, we will travel further South to Bologna, to meet with our booksprint authors Emma Estborn (Media Evolution, Sweden), Giorgia Boldrini (Business Department, Commune di Bologna, Italy), Steinar Valade-Amland (ThreePointZero, Denmark) and Carsten Busch (Institute for brand communication, Germany) for a whole day of working on finalizing the chapters of the booksprint. The Booksprint is one of the core elements of our project: it is a collaborative way of writing a book. Usually, authors are invited to contribute a chapter from their respective field of specialization to a publication until a certain deadline. With the Booksprint format, we made this process a collaborative one: the authors were not only asked to contribute with their expertise but to also engage in a weekly exchange about their chapters, identify similarities, comment on the chapters of the other authors and thus developing their texts further through this collaborative method.

The chapters of the final publication as the result of the Booksprint will focus on various dimensions of creative industries (support): Emma Estborn focuses on the importance and impact of collaboration. Steinar Valade-Amland analyses design history and puts design in an value chain perspective. Georgia Boldrini from Bologna in Italy describes her experiences how the introduction of business support instruments for cultural and creative entrepreneurs has shaped both the image of the artists as well as the relationship between cultural funding and business support. Gamification and digitization is the topic of Carsten Busch focussing on the broad application fields of games in companies and education. Carsten Becker puts creative industries in the perspective of innovation and describes their role as innovator and innovation driver. Finally, out board chairman Dirk Kiefer reconsiders the right mix of business support instruments for the creative industries.

Finally, on the 7th of November, we will be in Cottbus to contribute to the final conference of the EU project “Urban Creative Poles” with our insights on creative industries support in small and middle-sized cities with examples from Italy and Sweden.

Round table n°2: Access to smart finance – a review

Round table n°2: Access to smart finance – a review

On tuesday, 21st of May, we gathered in Copenhagen for our second round table (of four) to discuss the question of „Access to smart finance – how can investors be better investors for the creative industries?“

Against the grey sky and the rain drizzles, CKO – our co-hosts for this event – had arranged the meeting to take place at Artlab, a colourful venue and institution for the professionalisation of artists and creatives, located right at the big lakes of the city. 

We had invited different specialists from Denmark (CKO and Refleks), Sweden (Media Evolution), Italy (Arts4Business Institute, Trentino School of Management) and Germany (see below) in order to get as broad a perspective on the topic as possible. After a short round of presentation, we had three spontaneous mini-presentations/experience recounts by Daniel Kerber, founder of morethanshelters (mobile shelter concept realized with a number of different approaches to investment), Markus Presch from the Thuringian Agency for the creative industries (THAK), on a study conducted by the Thuringian structure bank and the derived actions, as well as Florian Knetsch from Prognos, who conducted a study for the German Ministry of Economy with a focus on fields of interaction of creative business and other fields of economy (linked below).

Søren Würtz (CKO)

Søren Würtz (CKO)

After these short impulses we jumped right into the presentation of the study prepared by CKO especially for C2C. Søren Würtz, chief consultant within CKO, had conducted a dozen of interviews with all kinds of investors (all but private banks and not donors) from 5 countries across Europe, who are already acting “smartly” in the field of CCI. The approach – a clever twist – was to ask these investors how, in their view, the others were acting “stupid” and which mistakes they frequently make.

But what is smart financing? The opposite of stupid, which is only looking to yesterday and generalizing economic logic that cannot be applied to all branches of economy, as the “rules” are changing, not only in society, but also in economy. Estimating next year’s revenue by looking at last year’s revenue might not always be the best method when it comes to innovative and creative companies …

In order to be a smart investor, you need to dare to jump low, start with small steps, test with low-cost market analysis, fail and re-try, build up while doing and working with 2 months-plans instead of 3-years-plans (which always bear more risk …)

And why should investors invest in the CCI? Because they are growing and are better off today than many other companies, even after the crisis (for example in the music industry). This reality challenges the general assumption of CCI businesses as being flaky and risky …

Here is a list of initiatives to take as suggested during the interviews

  • awareness-rising and knowledge transfer ((e.g. in get-together-meetings with creatives and investors) 
  • investors’ academies (e.g. seminars in which special CCI knowledge is transmitted)
  • bundling of CCI companies into a portfolio (which might make it more attractive to invest)
  • more cases (as a base for decision making, an ersatz for statistics and numbers)
  • new pitching design
  • grave to cradle / the life cycle approach (which means that the knowledge of young creative entrepreneurs should be used already today, before they „retire“ from their businesses and become business angels and consultants or even smart investors themselves)
  • Euro-Hollywood“ (creating clusters/working group of specialists on one particular field, e.g. film, games, music etc.)
  • a new valuation tool
  • move more investors into incubators

In two groups, the round table participants decided on a) the impact of each proposed initiative (high or low), b) the difficulty level of their implication.

Results from group 1

Highly effective and easy to implement:

  • Awareness-rising
  • Bundling of CCI companies
  • More cases (all linked together)

Highly effective but hard to implement:

  • Euro-Hollywood, because in many subsectors clusters already exist as very closed entities
  • Investors’ academies + More investors into incubators, because investors “don’t like to be tought” … and because “the investors” are a very heterogeneous group in themselves, of which some might be open to the new experiences and other not so much …
  • A new valuation tool, because it is not clear what it could be, although it would definitely be very important, in order to generate the much needed „hard facts“

Less effective and middle-hard to implement:

The new design of pitching sessions, because one pitching session only reaches a limited number of people which makes the process time consuming and thus not so highly effective.

Results from group 2

The second group did not use the given matrix, but built on a time-frame order of the proposed initiatives, departing from

  1. the basis: the generation of more cases in order to raise awareness. This lies at the very beginning of it all, as we are in a situation today, where we need to convince the first movers to open the door …
  2. step: bundling of CCI companies, leading to the development of the following tools:
  • more investors to incubators,
  • investors’ academies, (the two first ones being quite easy to implement as they demand no commitment from the investors.)
  • new design of pitching sessions,
  • Euro-Hollywood.

After you have these tools, at one point you need arguments in order to get the commitment from the investors. This leads to the necessary development of the valuation tool (highest impact and hardest to implement, but a highly desirable goal and useful tool).

We finished the afternoon with a lot of food for thought in our minds and will go on investigating and working on these questions during the barcamp in September!

Many thanks to CKO and all participants for their valuable input!

Links for further reading:

 

Expert Round Table n°2: Access to smart finance

We always talk about how creative entrepreneurs need to learn more business skills, write better business plans, work on lowering their risks and so on … but what happens if you flip that assumption around?! How can investment be smart? And how can investors be better investors for and in the creative industries?

These are the questions we will be discussing tomorrow in Copenhagen during our second expert round table meeting. Our Danish partners from CKO prepared a promising study on the matter, based on qualitative interviews with investors and creative entrepreneurs and we invited experts from Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Germany to add as many different perspectives as possible.

The results will be posted here soon after …

Round table 1: Digitization in the creative industries – a review

Round table 1: Digitization in the creative industries – a review

On thursday, 25th of April, we gathered at the Kultur Skåne building in Malmö’s Western harbour district for our first expert round table meeting on digitization in the creative industries. In order to gain a pan-European perspective on the matter, we had invited our partners from Denmark, Sweden and Italy, along with some other experts we met during our research trips.

Round Table 1

Round Table 1

The basis of our discussion was the report presented by our partner Klas Rabe from swedish Tillväxtverket, which presented digitization as a growth potential for the CCI in general as it both changes business models and creates new products, new service patterns and new conceptual solutions.

According to the study, CCI companies are drivers of this trend (not “only affected” by it) and can contribute content and value creation for their long-term competitiveness, as there has been a change in global value chains to which SMEs, especially within the CCI, contribute significantly. Digitization thus gave birth to a a new type of CCI startups that are “born global”, small companies working together with other small companies in networks.

Of course, the sub-sectors react differently to this trend. The music industry has – after severe problems – recovered and notes significant growth in general today (think of the spotify success story, for example). And the sales for Swedish game developers nearly doubled in 2011 compared to the numbers of 2010.
In the performance arts industry, digitization is used for the creation of new models of dissemination and new solutions for their shows in which digitization becomes part of the artistic production. The design sector is developing digital design as well as new ways to communicate with users through social media. In a survey by the Swedish Engineering Industries Association in 2011, it is shown that companies who invest in design, are up to 50% more profitable than those who do not. Very front-end in all this is, by the way, the cultural heritage sector, which adopts the possibilities of digitization very open-heartedly, e.g. in exhibitions but also for preservation and archiving.

Interlinked effects of digitization that affect all sectors are:

  • Availability: Digitization contributes to an increased availability of culture: more people can access and exercise more culture.
  • From consumption to participation through the blurring of the traditional boundaries between cultural consumption and production, made possible by technological developments and the creation of new media.
  • Production: More blending of media than before.
  • Cooperation: the new interdisciplinary methods of production bring together people and professionals from different sub-sectors. Think for example about the development of a computer game: It requires the cooperation of screenwriters, musicians, designers, programmers and engineers.
  • Communication and co-working: teams who are physically apart can still co-work on one and the same project through the use of new media; and teams and companies who don’t necessarily work on the same project still choose to share a common work space as they feel that this setting benefits their work. Here the driving forces are not purely economic but mainly driven by people’s needs and preferences on their work life surroundings.

Spill-over effects:

  • Traffic and defense turn to computer games industries for their tools on simulating and other effects.
  • Scientific data and results communication through visualization → can then in turn be used for architecture, design and media development for example (one example for that is the micro-level material research in Lund)

Problems and challenges which accompany the trend and which need to be investigated into further, are for example access to finance (as many new solutions don’t fit into the typical funding categories), or the already largely debated upon issue of intellectual property rights (as the digital development will present significant challenges for existing and new entrants regarding future cost and price models and thus business revenues related to intellectual property rights.)
One specific major challenge identified by Tillväxtverket is getting the public players to know and understand service innovation in the area, and the needs of the respective target groups, for a flexible approach to shape effective development efforts. The public workers need to develop skills in areas such as technology, communications, statistics and law. Government agencies and national organizations need to strengthen the monitoring of developments in this field, and take notice of common challenges and coordinate their different solutions.

Another important action would be to enhance the cooperation of public workers with external professionals and specialists from within the CCI, who know about the needs and interests of CCI entrepreneurs. This would in return improve and accelerate digital audience development.
In general it can be said, that the entire innovation and business support system will need to gain additional skills in order to keep track with the development, as the current schemes are not yet adapted to the needs of the new businesses.