A virtual expo-style event for the North West’s creative industries has been attended by more than 250 digital, creative and tech (DCT) leaders from more than 100 businesses in just two days.

The Creative Leaders Festival was developed by the Growth Company and delivered by GC Business Growth Hub in collaboration with Boost Business Lancashire and Liverpool Growth Platform, as a response to the challenging circumstances that DCT businesses have been facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarah Novotny, DCT lead for GC Business Growth Hub said: “Our inaugural Creative Leaders Festival has been an opportunity to re-energise and reconnect the North West’s creative community in its hour of need. It’s fantastic that so many businesses and DCT leaders have come together to show solidarity and determination to rise to the challenges and help mitigate the negative impact of inactivity that has been caused by this year’s lockdown measures.”

Lou Cordwell OBE, Co Chair of Greater Manchester’s Local Enterprise Partnership and CEO of Magnetic North, said: “Recent research commissioned by the Creative Industries Federation has found the DCT sector could be hit twice as hard as other industries in 2020, with projected shortfalls of up to £29 billion in economic output.

“As home to the UK’s largest creative clusters outside of London, areas such as Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and Lancashire, have a vital role to play in keeping the sector resilient and finding tangible solutions for some of its key challenges.  The great turnout for the Creative Leaders Festival demonstrates the creative community’s desire to collaborate and share best practice as they begin to turn attention towards recovery.”

With keynote speeches and panel discussion from 40+ guest speakers including industry experts and political leaders (including attendance from Susannah Storey, Director General, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), as well as sector specific roundtable sessions; the Creative Leaders Festival focused on a range of issues from understanding intellectual property, to unlocking finance and investment, scaling up operations for growth, and accessing support for the self-employed.

Speaking of her experience of attending, Helen Palmer, Director for CTConsults, said: “We’ve seen a wide variety of talent, skills and expertise on show during the Creative Leaders Festival and it’s been great that our business has been able to participate in a panel session looking at the future of publishing. Any opportunity to showcase the depth and breadth of our sector, as well as to provide practical support and advice in a free and easy to access way, has to be applauded.”

“The North West’s creative industries are a vital contributor to the UK’s economy and while many companies have suffered greatly during Covid-19, we must leverage opportunities like this festival to shape a strong future for the sector. We’re certainly seeing the benefits from this and from being part of the Creative Scale-Up programme through its practical support and mentoring.”

Those who missed the festival can still benefit from much of the information, advice and support that was made available on the day. The event has been recorded and is available to view here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRICs8-plMlsWyCyzhKWpZ68kSebGQj24

GC Business Growth Hub continues to deliver a number of ongoing support programmes for DCT businesses based in the North West. They include:

  • Creative Scale-Up

Fully funded by the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and designed to empower creative businesses in the Greater Manchester region to realise their full growth potential and gain investment to take their business to the next level. Applications for Creative Scale-Up are open until 31st August https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/creative-scale-up-programme

  • Exceed

Exceed supports the full leadership teams of medium sized businesses to adapt as necessary to the current economic circumstances and thrive. It provides a strategic layer of support to help businesses make key decisions around how they grow and underpins this with modular support on a range of areas.

For more information about the Hub’s DCT support services: businessgrowthhub.com/dct