On the 9th of October University of Warwick launched its Creative and Digital Communities’ initiative. This initiative sits within the Innovation Group led by David Plumb, Chief Innovation Officer whose Innovation Strategy highlights the need to connect the University with local creative and digital talent across the region.
This gateway into the University will look at ways that the organisation can support creative and digital companies working locally, and also offer opportunities for students and graduates to work in the creative sector either by securing roles in various companies or running their own creative enterprises.
The Creative and Digital Communities team is made up of Director, Vicky Jepson and Clare Green as Manager. Vicky has a portfolio career with a background in broadcasting and TV production working with clients such as BBC, Creative England and many more. Clare relocated to Leamington Spa a year ago after running a creative industries network, Creative Front and international student games festival, Brains Eden at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.
One primary focus for the team will be to establish two creative incubators; one on campus and the second within central Leamington Spa at 1 Mill Street. The audience was made up of a wide variety of guests from creative businesses through to other Universities and FE colleges as well as leaders in the LEP, local authorities and BID Leamington.
Stuart Croft, Vice Chancellor, explained that the commitment from the University to the creative and digital sector is underpinned by our desire to retain good people and ideas in the area. The relationship between companies and the University is key to this and it is timely with the upcoming Coventry’s City of Culture in 2021, the redevelopment of Warwick Arts Centre, the creation of the School of Creative Arts, Performance and Visual Cultures and the launch of a new BA in Media and Creative Industries. Throughout all these activities, we'll join forces with local business to make Coventry and Warwickshire a fantastic destination for people to come and experience its creativity and culture.
David Plumb, Chief Innovation Officer stated that “It’s important that we get this right in the sense that when we launch our activities in 2020, it’s with the input and ideas from the business community here in Leamington so the creative and digital incubator goes on to be this joint thing between us and community that is hugely successful”
Creative businesses are booming here: the area boasts the fastest productivity growth (out of anywhere in UK), growing at almost twice national average and this rich and diverse creative cluster includes 83 games development studios which employs 2500 people and makes up 15% of the UK’s game development talent. As well as focus on music production, film and TV, branding and creative, communications.
The sector is buzzing with a number of events and the plans for the creative business incubator in central Leamington Spa are very exciting. The purpose-built space will provide a home for creative and innovative talent to flourish and grow.
Nigel Shanahan, founder of Make Good Grow and 1 Mill Street explained that his vision is to create a space where businesses can come, not only to work but to network, collaborate and drive forward their vision with support from mentoring and incubation services offered by University of Warwick.
It will include a fully-fledged event space where creative businesses can launch new products and host a wide variety of events in the town centre. It will also boast a fully equipped sound suite suitable for podcasting and video creation, as well as the interactive business cafe where people will meet and informally connect.
Warwick alum and BAFTA winning VR specialist, Catherine Allen explained “I have gained so much from working with the University over the years” and summarised that “the impact is that where I work at the moment, in virtual reality, the values, the research and knowledge from Warwick has come through into the emerging VR sector”
All guests got their hands on the new Shakespeare to Sonic brochure which celebrates the relationships between the University and the business community and showcases the diverse range of creative and digital industries in this area.
The team will be connecting with lots of different businesses in the coming weeks and months so you're running a creative enterprise or working in the sector and would like to meet the team, then please get in touch.
Watch the action here: