As part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, a record £80m-plus is being invested to create a step-change in collaboration between the country’s internationally-renowned creative industries and universities across the UK.

The Creative Industries Clusters Programme, which will start in 2018, will help catalyse economic growth and provide the skills needed for the jobs of the future. It will find innovative ways to identify opportunities for new products and services at an early stage and get them on the road to success.

Led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Programme will support eight Research and Development (R&D) Partnerships between industry and a group of universities to respond to challenges identified by the creative industries in their cluster.

The R&D Partnerships will support ground-breaking innovation by companies of all sizes – from micro-businesses and start-ups to multinational corporations – so that they can prosper in the UK, ensuring this country benefits from their success and building on its global reputation as one of the world’s leading engines of creativity.

In parallel, a national Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre will be established to produce independent evidence and analysis for the industry and for policy-makers. The Centre will produce high-quality understanding of the creative industries, including how they are working together in clusters and across the wider economy, so that future policy and strategy can be informed by world-class insights to further accentuate success.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The Creative Industries Clusters Programme will deliver a real boost to the country’s already burgeoning creative industries, help spread prosperity and grow the creative skills base across the UK. This type of collaboration between Government, businesses and universities is a perfect example of our Industrial Strategy in action.

“The UK’s creative industries are one of our fastest growing sectors, contributing nearly £90 billion to the economy, including more than £21 billion in export services, and employing more than two million people in creative occupations.

“They are among the industries of the future where British innovation has the potential to lead the world and we are determined to build on the sector’s many strengths, which is why we have committed to an early sector deal for the creative industries in our green paper.”

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will invest £39m in the Programme until 2021, which will be matched by university and private sector funding that will take the total investment to at least £80 million.

Professor Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive of Arts and Humanities Research Council said: “The Creative Industries Clusters Programme will be the largest ever single investment in arts and humanities-led research and innovation. This investment is a welcome commitment to the creative industries as well as to the vital role research plays in innovation and generating commercial opportunities for UK PLC.

“The Programme will support long-term growth by producing a step-change in the development of innovative new products and services, the supply of high-value skills and the creation of new jobs.

“It will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for those universities that are involved: this is a chance for them to show how they can play an essential role in the creative economy. They will be able to build on their creative industry networks – locally, nationally and internationally – at a scale not previously seen.”

Successful creative industries entrepreneur and recently appointed AHRC Creative Economy Champion, Professor Andrew Chitty, added: “From film, TV and games to design, architecture and fashion, the UK has one of the world’s most powerful, innovative and fastest growing creative economies, growing twice as fast as the wider economy in terms of both value and jobs. The creative industries are essential to the UK’s future prosperity.

“But as the sector continues to expand internationally and looks to adapt to new technologies and exploit new opportunities, skills gaps are becoming more evident; we need to develop our already highly creative workforce to make it fit for the future.”

“While providing the impetus for the creative industries to flourish and cement themselves across the UK’s nations and regions, this investment will drive a step change in creative R&D and expand international trade. It will also secure the UK’s global position as having the world’s leading creative industries.”

The call for proposals to the Creative Industries Clusters Programme funding will open in September. To give applicants time to prepare their bids, the first formal announcement has been made today in the form of a ‘pre-call’ announcement, (PDF, 221KB) which can be viewed on the AHRC website.

The call for proposals to host the Policy and Evidence Centre will go live in October.

Enquiries regarding this pre‐call should be directed to the AHRC Creative Clusters team:


Telephone: 01793 416060