£5 million funding boost for Nottingham and Derby’s creative and digital industries

Organisations across Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire have come together to launch The Big House programme – a three-year, £5 million tailored support programme for the Creative and Digital Industries (CDI) sector in the region, part-funded by a £2.5 million contribution from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with match funding from the Creative Local Growth Fund programme, funded by The Arts Council.

The programme is being launched to improve the ability of the region’s CDI SMEs to start-up and grow, so they can take advantage of the UK’s booming CDI sector, which contributes just over £84 billion a year to the UK economy. Similarly, the number of jobs in the creative industries has risen nearly 20% since 2011 to 1.9 million, according to figures from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport. The creative industries grew by 9% in 2014, almost double the size of the nation’s whole economy growth – and the sector has increased as a proportion of the total UK gross value added (GVA) for four years running.

According to the D2N2 local enterprise partnership, there are more than 2,300 registered creative and digital businesses in Nottinghamshire, mainly concentrated in the City. Creative England’s report of the top 50 creative companies and individuals, published in January, featured five Nottinghamshire firms and people, including GameCity, Jeanie Finlay, AppInstitute, Lockwood Publishing and Wellington Films. The CDI sector employs 25,000 people across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, split roughly between the two counties.

The Big House aims to help many of these businesses to grow and create new jobs in the region, including established SMEs who want to expand and bring new products and services to market for example, and potential entrepreneurs and start-ups, keen to join a thriving UK business sector. The support on offer will include grants, one-to -one advice, support and coaching and peer-to-peer learning and networking events. The programme aims to support over 500 businesses with over £350,000 of grant funding, matched by private investment.

The project will be delivered through a partnership of business support organisations across the local area, with specialist expertise in different aspects of the creative and digital industries.

The Big House partners include The Creative Quarter company, Nottingham Trent University, The Hive (Nottingham Trent University’s business incubator), the University of Derby, Derby QUAD, New Art Exchange, Derby Theatre, NBV and Nottingham City Council – through their Growth Hub. The partners will also be working closely with Broadway in Nottingham, which is managing paid internships and placements in the creative and digital industries with the support of The University of Nottingham.

The idea behind The Big House programme is to bring together a wide range of support and care for creative and digital businesses at different stages of development, which businesses can access in different ways to suit them, from different partners, in different places – while still being part of a joined-up business support programme.

Businesses will move through ‘The Big House’ of support, accessing help at the level they need, from entrepreneurs, start-ups and those who face barriers to accessing mainstream business support, through to established, growing small and medium sized businesses (SMEs).

Best of all, because the programme involves a wide range of partners, businesses will be able to benefit from both specialist expertise, and the diverse, overarching support of a business support programme, without having to ‘sign up’ to lots of individual, disjointed programmes. It’s all here – in one Big House.

David Ralph, Chief Executive of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“This is terrific news and well-deserved by the Creative Quarter company and its consortium partners. Creative Quarter’s excellence, as a champion of the D2N2 area’s key creative and digital industries sector, was also recently recognised by winning the ‘Improving the Business Environment’ category of the 2015 European Enterprise Promotion Awards. In providing creative start-ups with tailored business support the new ‘Big House’ project, to be run by a consortium of creative and cultural organisations, is set to add significantly to this sector’s growth and that of the wider D2N2 LEP economy.”

Each of The Big House partners will be delivering a different aspect of the programme:

The Creative Quarter

The Creative Quarter’s programme is called Open Doors and it will aim to help businesses become ‘enterprise ready’, whether they’re entrepreneurs or start-ups just starting out, or more established businesses looking to grow. Open Doors will also help businesses bring new products and services to market. The programme will include a range of support, including one-to-one support and peer-to-peer networking events. Businesses will also be signposted to other support available through partner programmes, to make sure they get the specialist support they need.

Derby QUAD

Derby QUAD will act as a first point of contact and information hub for creative and digital businesses in Derby and Derbyshire. They will also establish ‘Mainframe’ a creative and digital industries network for the city of Derby and county of Derbyshire. This will be a real and virtual network supported by newly created staff positions, housed in QUAD with a virtual space for information.

Nottingham Trent University

The Hive and Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University will be supporting businesses in the creative, and especially digital, sectors to both start-up and grow. Their programme will provide opportunities for students, graduates and aspiring entrepreneurs to start up their own creative and/or digital businesses with The Hive’s sector specific support. It will help individuals to think through the process of becoming an entrepreneur and what it means to start a business, while supporting early stage businesses to flourish. Growing businesses in the creative and digital industries will be able to access customised support from Nottingham Business School, through a coordinated programme including expert workshops and individual development advice. Some businesses will also be able to access grants to help them secure the talent and expertise they need to grow and prosper.

The University of Derby

The University of Derby’s College of Arts will deliver a programme of business support aimed at creative and digital businesses that have been in existence for less than five years. With expertise in digital product design, software and production technologies, they will deliver a series of sector specific workshops for SMES with an emphasis on digitisation combined with commercialisation.

Derby Theatre

Derby Theatre will be providing a wide range of targeted business support, from workshops to research and development grants, for performing arts professionals and companies. This work will build on the Theatre’s In Good Company programme, which has been instrumental in building the profile and competitiveness of regional creatives working in the performing arts over the last two years.

New Art Exchange

New Art Exchange, a founder member of the original ERDF programme established for creative entrepreneurs from Nottingham’s diverse communities, will build on the strengths and success of the first Real Creative Futures programme. It aims to help these creative entities to establish and grow, and to link them through to a range of business support services tailored to the needs of creative and digital businesses in the city of Nottingham, either as start-ups or as established SMEs, by working in partnership with NBV Enterprise Solutions and as a part of the Big House consortium.

NBV Enterprise Solutions Ltd

NBV will be supporting creative individuals across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire into viable business pathways through coaching and business advice, as well as supporting established SMEs. NBV will also be offering enterprise grants to support the business development activities of their clients. NBV aims to give everyone the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and to create an environment where talent can be unlocked and flourish and like New Art Exchange are building on the success of the Real Creative Futures Programme.

Cllr Nick McDonald, Portfolio Holder for Business, Growth and Transport at Nottingham City Transport said:

“Nottingham City Council are the accountable body for this programme because we increasingly value the contribution of the creative and digital industries to job creation, wealth generation and the reputation of the city. This programme has come about through the collaboration of a wide range of partners, working to simplify the access points for SMEs and businesses. It is fantastic news that such a diverse range of support will be available to this sector and we know this will further fuel the growth of this priority sector across the city and the region.”

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