How EICI was Initiated
The idea for the interest group was born out of recently launched FP7 project called “CReATE” which examines the impact of ICT-based innovations on creative industries in European regions. The network of project partners wish to consolidate their relationship beyond the scope and timeline of the project. They felt that they can contribute to debates and developments within the fields of creative industries and innovation which go beyond the topics that they examine as part of the project. Their aim is therefore to identify and collaborate further with local and regional partners that have a similar ambition.
It its launch phase the EICI initiative is coordinated by MFG Baden-Wuerttemberg, a Public Innovation Agency for ICT and Media in the Southwest of Germany.
The Relevance of Creativity and Innovation for Europe
It is accepted that Europe can only sustain its position as an important player in the global economy if its companies and institutions manage the full transition towards the knowledge economy and exploit innovative ideas and creative solutions across all industries. The importance of the creative industries (as well as the arts and culture in general) has been recognised just recently by industry leaders and policy makers. Creativity, the creative industries as well as the creative concepts and ideas which lead to new services, processes and products constitute the hotbed for Europe’s innovation capacities in many other fields. This has been proven by recent studies.
Recognition at European Level…
EU-institutions have consequently put the creative industries and their link to Europe’s innovation potential on the policy agenda. By labelling 2009 the “European Year of Creativity and Innovation” the EC emphasised the growing economic importance of the creative industries and highlighted their relation to the innovation potential of other sectors, such as ICT, consumer electronics, tourism and many other industries. This was a cross-cutting initiative covering not only education and culture, but also other policy domains such as enterprise, media, research as well as social and regional development. The “European Year of Creativity and Innovation” led to a more prominent notion of the importance of creativity and the creative industries in future calls for proposals under various EU support programmes aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of the EU.
…And Among National and Local Policy Makers
At national level, governments are also increasingly aware of the wider impact of creativity and the creative industries. For example, the UK has recently published its new national strategy document Creative Britain which acknowledges the sector’s influence across several public and commercial domains in other fields. The German government has initiated a process to develop a comprehensive creative industries strategy at national level. Similar developments are taking place across many Member States.
Likewise, several initiatives have been set up at local level to foster creativity and innovation in Europe’s regions and cities – often supported by EU structural funds or other programmes such as FP7.
In this context, it is important to stress that both creativity and innovation have a specific local dimension. Both thrive on the close connection between creative and innovative stakeholders – creative SMEs, artists, research institutions, universities, suppliers and the public sector. The creative industries tend to develop in urban environments that attract what researchers have labelled the creative class – highly skilled knowledge workers that like to live in energetic cities with a rich cultural offering. This spatial dimension clearly puts local and regional stakeholders in a promising position to take a lead in promoting creativity and innovation across Europe.