Clwstwr Creadigol: Research and Development for a high performing creative cluster in Wales

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Journalism Media and Cultural Studies


The Cardiff region of South Wales was a screen industries pace-setter when the UK adopted its creative industries mission in the late 1990s. Success was built upon the supply chains of a strong independent television sector, anchored by three Cardiff-based public service broadcasters. In the last five years the screen marketplace has been disrupted and enlarged by internet-based on-demand distribution platforms. Both anchor broadcasters and the broader screen industry know that without sustained and shrewd innovation, they will struggle.

Today, screen industries reach far beyond television, taking in gaming and global markets for all kinds of on-demand storytelling on screens which range in size from wrist-watch to IMAX. Today's direct competition for broadcasters includes Amazon, Google, Netflix and Apple. Cardiff's screen industries must innovate rapidly if they are to challenge for leadership in new market segments.

Clwstwr Creadigol brings together the broadcasters (BBC, ITV, S4C) with a rich array of over 60 companies: independent TV producers, writers, games designers, software writers, marketing agents, drone-fliers, tech startups, data scientists and storytellers. Our missionis is to create and deliver - through a Screen Innovation System (SIS) and a News Innovation Lab (NIL) - an R&D programme that will enable Cardiff to move from being a media production centre and location to a high value screen cluster. Based on six months of intense conversation with our business partners and other collaborators, these initiatives will be equipped and designed to respond to external opportunities, changing technologies (e.g. emergence of 5G mobile infrastructure) and shifting patterns of consumption.

Both the SIS and NIL will house R&D leading to new products, services and experiences at three levels:

- Sectoral interventions designed to have a tangible and broad economic benefit. These will be aimed the screen sector in the cluster (e.g. work with S4C to develop new platforms for data analytics, which will benefit the cluster's many screen independents producing bilingual content), or at businesses across the UK (e.g. the development of networks systems designed to monetise the UK community news sector).

- Business interventions designed to boost short-form screen content supply, range, experimentation and richness - a staple requirement for on-demand screen services in entertainment and news, as well as in routine B2B and B2C communication - and enhance ambition for IP creation and ownership beyond core screen products e.g. product extension options in games, publishing and merchandise.

- Collaborative interventions to capitalise on the creative energy that emerges from collabriations between micro-businesses and freelancers and on the emerging strength of the city's creative hubs.

These are ambitious ideas, but they are grounded in the ambitions of businesses in our cluster, as reflected in the sample Letters of Support. This level of ambition is matched by this proposal's unprecedented collaboration of Cardiff's three universities. University of South Wales' offer includes a new Film & TV School and the award-winning Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. Cardiff Metropolitan University excels in product and service design, serving business customers across the UK and in a number of international markets. Cardiff University has the UK's top journalism school and is home to Creative Cardiff, established in 2015 to enhance the university's contribution to success in the regional creative economy. Creative Cardiff's reputation underpins our confidence in delivering this proposal to the very highest of standards.

What would success look like? Over a five-year span, we show that enhanced R&D collaboration spurs innovation and increases the pace and quality of growth in the screen industries. This results in decisions to build on Clwstwr Creadigol's success across the creative industries in Wales.

Planned Impact

Clwstwr Creadigol's proposal is to execute a series of R&D programmes tailored to creating new products, services and experiences in the screen sector in South Wales. These will be based in the Screen Innovation System (SIS) and the News Innovation Lab (NIL). This summary draws upon Letters of Support to illustrate some of the ways in which our partners will work with us to deliver two broad levels of impact.

First, to embed a culture of innovation into the cluster's screen sector, so that success can be sustained in a fast-moving digital word. Senior BBC executives "strongly believe that creating such a cluster, using a mix of public and private endeavours, will allow the BBC and the creative sector in the UK to understand and exploit new opportunities in television and digital production", while independent production company Wildflame write that "access to a 'high-level' R&D powerhouse" in the cluster would be "hugely beneficial to the health and creative evolution of the sector".

Second, to generate an increase in economic activity within the cluster and beyond - achieved in three ways.

1. New technology and new platforms: R&D that benefits the cluster
The sector wide programmes will have broader economic benefit for the 60 screen companies in the cluster, in terms of understanding audiences, access to infrastructure and expanding markets. For example, S4C's R&D priorities include data analytics, personalisation and content visibility: for them, "R&D with the partner universities of this bid...could offer a unique insight into the younger audience, which partnered with the technical expertise in the cluster, would allow us to develop a system that enhances our ability to promote our content and understand audiences across platforms". Gorilla (post-production - part of ITV Studios) is similarly keen to use R&D in the programme to "develop new processes and systems to...expand business in Wales in order to compete in a Global Market".

2. Growing business by developing new forms of content
Our R&D programmes are designed to lead to new forms of digital content, which will create new business, employment and economic activity. For example, Rondo Media is a large independent producer selling to broadcasters around the world. Gareth Williams, Rondo's CEO, frames the R&D challenge as "how to innovate in delivery of new forms of content across a growing range of digital platforms as well as linear TV" - a core theme for this R&D programme. Plimsoll Productions is a factual programme maker, headquartered in Bristol but with a growing Cardiff presence. Plimsoll want to pursue R&D aimed at developing genres of live programming - a key element of contemporary broadcasting. Plimsoll are also keen to exploit the cluster's user testing methods to explore hybrid genres for on-demand audiences. Boom Cymru is one of Wales's largest indigenous production groups, with annual revenues of £23m. Boom has a close interest in using R&D "to project changes in content deliver great storytelling in the form that it is sought." ITV similarly see the NIL as a way to "explore and identify news technologies...for gathering, organising and distributing video news content to consumers in ways they would want."

3. Broadening IP and new markets in the cluster
Our business R&D programmes are designed to convert this desire into a range of intellectual property broadening initiatives. For Hinterland co-creator Ed Talfan, the drama series - broadcast in Welsh and English and sold to over 100 countries - was a missed opportunity: "it was a source of great frustration that we were not able to fully exploit the IP despite offers from publishers and computer game developers to do so." For Talfan, Creative Director of Severn Screen, the SIS is key to maximising IP across the cluster: "We are at an exciting stage in our development and keen to take the next step. We believe the same is true of the sector in South Wales".


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Komorowski M (2020) The economic drivers of media clusters in International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics

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Komorowski M (2020) Identifying industry clusters: a critical analysis of the most commonly used methods in Regional Studies, Regional Science

Description We will discover the most effective ways to do Research and Development to create innovation in the media and creative industries.
We will create an ecosystem that support R&D in the media/creative sectors, leading to both economic growth and sustainability, allowing a .
We will have a more comrpehensive picture of the media/screen sector in Wales.
Exploitation Route It will allow us to test the most effective ways to drive R&D (which is not widely understood in the creative sectors) and stimulate innovation in a regional creatve industries cluster, thereby provide a model for public investment and partnerships.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description They have created a series of 73 R&D projects with creative industry companies designed to create innovative new products, services and experiences. Details on website.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Creative Economy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services