ON Thursday 12 November, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, announced the launch of the 2015/Collaboration Prize, which encourages businesses from the creative industries to explore consortia working as a means of improving trade and delivering sustained growth.
As a specialist adviser with Co-operative Development Scotland, I have worked with a wide range of businesses to help them develop this approach – many of them as previous winners of the Collaboration Prize.
A considerable number of these businesses have been from the creative sector, and more specifically those working in the Scottish media industry.
Currently in Scotland, the creative sector as a whole employs over 71,000 people and is worth over £5 billion to our economy. Given this significant contribution, it is vital we continue to make Scotland a place to attract, develop and retain this talent.
From our work with creative businesses, we know that collaboration has played a significant role in achieving this.
But what is it about creative businesses that lend them so well to this way of working?
First of all, the sector in Scotland is composed of many small and micro businesses with the vast majority (98 per cent) of nearly 14,000 enterprises employing less than 50 people.
For businesses of this scale, collaboration presents a mechanism for business growth by opening up new markets, widening customer networks, supporting the development of new products and services and improving purchasing and bidding power.
Secondly, if creative businesses – particularly those in the media industry – are to thrive, they need to keep pace with technological change and adapt their business models accordingly.
Collaboration enables businesses to do so by increasing their pool of resources and skills in a flexible way whilst still allowing them to focus on their core offering.
This was a driver behind the creation of digital communications consortium, the Wee Agency, which brings together experts from the PR, marketing and digital design industries.
PR director, Nathalie Agnew, commented: “The media industry is changing and consortia working offers a great way to scale up your team and experience with a lower risk level than recruiting new skills into businesses individually. Working in partnership has allowed us to bring experts in branding, coding, marketing and PR into one room to work on client strategies.”
Thirdly, being part of a consortium can help creative businesses grow whilst reducing the costs and risks associated with tackling new markets or investing in new processes. It also allows member businesses to retain their own brands, independence and control.
This was a real benefit for last year’s Collaboration Prize winner, Adventures in Light – a consortium which brings together a 3D artist, filmmaker and carpenter to create dynamic projected installations for musical and cultural performances.
Cristina Spiteri, director at Adventures in Light, explained: “As artists we can pool our expertise to offer customers something completely new and exciting – delivered seamlessly from idea creation to execution. Working together also enables us to collectively use resources to purchase more advanced equipment and embark on more ambitious installations.
“Collaborating is now at the core of our business. It has allowed us to bring in specialist skills, and together craft something truly unique and far beyond what we could produce on our own.”
Finally, for many creative businesses, collaboration is a valuable tool for supporting the creative process itself.
By bringing together businesses with different skills and perspectives, collaboration can facilitate the sharing of not just resources and contracts, but of ideas, insights, experiences and concepts which nurture creativity.
For businesses working in all sub sectors of the creative industries, from media and design to fashion and the arts, this is an enormous benefit, and one which will give collaborating businesses the creative edge and ability to evolve as markets and trends change.
Dougal Perman, director of Inner Ear, a co-founder of creative consortium Yellow Brick House and collaborator in new music licensing agency consortium, ZULU, agrees.
He said: “Collaboration is an essential part of the creative process, I think. We all have to collaborate to some extent and when you’re making something special, whether it’s for yourselves or other people, working together always helps you create better and more exciting work.
“The Collaboration Prize celebrates and encourages creative collaboration – something I’m passionate about.”
Scottish businesses which fit the creative industries criteria can submit entries for a chance to win £5,000 cash, up to £5,000 consultancy and support from Co-operative Development Scotland to form their consortium. Up to five winners will be selected to take a share of the prize fund.
Entries to the Collaboration Prize must be submitted by midnight, December 17.
To find out more about the Prize, the support available and to enter, go to http://www.scottish-enterprise.com/collaborationprize.
The Collaboration Prize was launched by Scottish Enterprise (SE), in partnership with Creative Scotland, Cultural Enterprise Office, Interactive Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and delivered by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS).
Jaye Martin is specialist adviser at Co-operative Development Scotland.