Rise of the Design Industry

photoeeMuch like the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland saw a decline in the importance of the manufacturing industries towards the end of the 1980s and into the 1990s, which combined with a rise in the technology and service sectors of the economy (now the largest sector in Scotland). Irrespective of the parties in power, the creative economy has moved increasingly to the centre of policy thinking. In the UK’s case, part of the explanation at least, given the sway of post‐industrial, ‘new economy’  thinking, with its strong bias towards knowledge production and non-material goods and services, has been the quest by nations for new sources of profitability and competitive economic advantage.

The 1990s saw an economic boom in the central belt, with many large technology firms relocating to Scotland, however the concept of the creative industries was not introduced until around 1998. Since then it has risen at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the economy, and is cited by the government as one of the six key areas with high growth potential and the potential to boost productivity in the Scottish economy.

The significant impact of creativity in Scotland can be seen in Tayside’s recent growth as a hub of artistic, digital and electronic creative success. The creative industries in this area have increased by 225% since 2000, and are predicted to rise a further 20% in the next three years. The links formed with universities has also provided an increase in the electronics, design and development based industries.  The universities supply many graduates who work in the sector, and contribute to research and development through local partnerships and knowledge transfer activities.

It would appear despite this there is a failure in the level of start up funding for emergent businesses in the creative sector, which receive little or no financial support only generic advice from business gateways. New businesses tend to find growth after the first year is always slow, which relates to issues around business planning, finance, and management skills. It has been noted that building peer to peer support systems (recognizing the people who can most help a business are actually other businesses) is an approach that works well in the creative economy where there is less interaction with general business support agencies.

In light of this research and our impending site visit to Avian, I feel that it is important to touch upon these issues with them and find out what their experiences have been in regard to the growing economy (in particular, the growth of Tayside) and what support networks they have with regards to their business.

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