Matt Sansam is digital industries consultant and programme manager for the Technology Strategy Board
It is no longer a question of tech vs. creativity, rather how digital provides a platform for the two to fuse.
From a business perspective, Europe is currently undergoing a very interesting shift. With confidence in traditional markets and career options at an all-time low after a global recession followed closely by the current uncertainty around the Eurozone, more and more young people are turning to starting their own businesses.
It’s safe to say that we are now beyond the point of hype when it comes to the enormous growth of tech start-ups across Europe, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the UK and in London.
London holds two particularly interesting traits when it comes to business. Firstly it is the capital of Europe for the creative industries (music, film, TV, advertising, publishing) and secondly it also happens to be the finance capital of Europe.
This combination gives London a unique edge when it comes to tech start-up innovation. The most obvious being access to finance – from funding initiatives like those offered by IC tomorrow, to equity-based crowdfunding platforms, early-stage seed investors and the established major VCs such as DFJ Esprit and Index Ventures.
And while this has attracted start-ups from across Europe to London, what we’re now seeing is something more interesting in the long run – the current FinTech revolution where start-ups such as Transferwise and Seedrs are seeking to permanently disrupt the banks and traditional lenders.
Similarly, the creative industry is also going through something of a renaissance in London. At IC tomorrow we exist to connect start-ups to major content and IP rights-holding brands across TV, film, art, music, publishing, gaming, advertising, education and healthcare. In a nutshell, any major brand, studio, channel, record label or publisher that has a wealth of content and is keen to innovate in ever more complex and fragmented digital markets.
As part of the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency, we are a free service available to all UK start-ups looking to meet everyone from EMI Music to The Tate.
And while you won’t be surprised to know we’ve seen a substantial uplift in start-ups applying for our funding initiatives and speed networking events, what’s even more interesting is the number of major brands who have proactively expressed an interest in wanting to work with us.
In many ways, I think many industries understand that they need to innovate, but the hardest part is knowing where to start, how to engage and finding find innovative start-ups that are relevant to your business.
While IC tomorrow serves as both a filter and a match-maker between start-ups and brands, what excites me is what happens when brands realise that start-ups don’t think in terms of borders or sectors.
Start-ups solve problems that most of us don’t yet realise exist, and when it comes to marketing or distributing content, there is incredible crossover between film or TV content on demand and positively disrupting digital music catalogue distribution channels for example.
I started my career as a games designer, and the crossover between tech and creativity – gaming and films or gaming and music, is everywhere! Just think how much the marketing around the latest games now resembles what was once the domain of only the international film blockbuster?
Or how music artists will choose a film or game trailer to debut a new song online (driving click-throughs and traffic for both parties)? Or interactive layering that allows you purchase an item online directly from the piece of interactive video content where you first heard or saw it?
It is no longer a question of tech vs. creativity but how digital provides a platform for the two to fuse.
For the team at IC tomorrow, we see a lot of transferable skills between different sectors and our programme is aimed at helping ‘translate’ the language barriers to encourage digital innovators who are working in one sector to realise that their tech and ideas can be very applicable to a variety of other sectors.
The Digital Shoreditch festival is just one London example of this celebration of outstanding creativity and tech, and they have built a huge community of the most innovative and successful companies and organisations across creative, technical, start-up tech and digital spaces and beyond.
Their aim is to ‘facilitate an enormous spectrum of individuals and companies to connect and exchange ideas, generate a greater openness within the digital space, and facilitate innovators from all walks of life to contribute to a flourishing creative society.’
Given the natural synergy, we’ll be at the festival this year looking to meet the best and brightest new creative innovators. On Monday May 20th, we’ll be showing off some impressive previous competition winners at The Tech City Showcase and then we’ll be looking to award £175k to a whole new class of the best digital innovators in the publishing, advertising and TV sectors at our 2013 Digital Innovation Contest.
Whether you work for a brand or a start-up, why not come join us and find out what really happens when tech breaks down the traditional barriers between industries in London? The results are constantly surprising, rarely expected and always an exciting preview of what the future may hold.