About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Creative industries are driving economic growth across the UK, on track to create one million new creative industries jobs between 2013 and 2030

  • Local economies in the UK have grown their creative industries by an average of 11 per cent between 2011-2014 and 2015-2016, twice as fast as other industry sectors
  • If the creative industries keep growing at the same pace, they could create 900,000 new creative industries jobs by 2030
  • This could total 1,000 new creative industries jobs a week but three quarters will be concentrated in the top 10 areas, instead of nationwide

New research from Nesta, in partnership with the Creative Industries Council, reveals creative industries across the UK are driving local and national economic growth, identifying that local economies have grown their creative industries employment by an average of 11 per cent, twice as fast as other sectors (where local economies experienced, on average, 5.5 per cent of growth).

Based on its new research, Nesta estimates there were 162,000 new employees in the UK creative industries between 2011-2014 and 2015-16. If the creative industries keep growing at the same pace, 900,000 new creative industries jobs could be created between 2013 and 2030. This nears Nesta’s goal of one million new creative jobs by 2030, as set in its 2015 report The Creative Economy and the Future of Employment(1).

This amount could total 1,000 new creative industries jobs a week, important for the UK workforce and economy because creative jobs are highly skilled, could contribute to productivity growth and are resilient to automation(2). However, if the geography of creative jobs stays the same, three quarters of new creative industries jobs will be in the top 10 areas, instead of nationwide.

Nesta has mapped (3) the scale of the creative industries across the UK and found that the UK is experiencing a boom in creative entrepreneurship - with the number of businesses growing in nine out of 10 places mapped. Creative industries -- from architecture to film and advertising -- also grew faster than other sectors in four out of five (83 per cent) areas.

During this time, the areas with the most new creative businesses were London (reaching a total of 90,753 creative businesses in 2015-16), Manchester (with 9183), Luton (with 5058) and Birmingham (with 4988). Meanwhile, Milton Keynes, Birmingham and Luton, saw the highest growth rates of new creative businesses (see table below).

The creative sector has also powered the creation of jobs, with more than four in five (82 per cent) places growing their creative industries employment. In absolute terms, London, Reading, Manchester and Leeds generated the highest number of creative industry jobs while Reading, Leeds, and High Wycombe and Aylesbury grew creative industries employment at the fastest rate (see table below).

This fast growth partly reflects digital technologies which allow creative businesses to create content that can be easily exported worldwide, and demand for creative services from advertising to software and design in other sectors. In the future, creative jobs are likely to gain importance because they are harder to automate(1).

An example of a creative business includes Engine House Animation in Cornwall, a small yet fast growth VFX agency and animation company.

The top 10 Travel to Work Areas (TTWAs - the locations where people live and work)(4), which experienced the highest growth from 2011-2014 to 2015-2016 include:

TTWA table

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said:

“The creative industries are one of our strongest cultural calling cards, with British artists accounting for one in every eight album sales around the world, millions of tourists visiting Britain to see our world-leading art and design and UK-produced films regularly topping international box offices. This report confirms that we have creative talent spread right across the country and shows the sector is growing twice as fast as other industries outside of the capital. The government will do all we can, through our Industrial Strategy, to help our creative industries keep up this momentum."

Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director of Creative Economy and Data Analytics at Nesta, said:

“Nesta’s research confirms that high entrepreneurship rates are boosting growth in creative industries like software and advertising right across the UK, not just in London and the South East.

“However, it also shows that if cities can increase the number of higher growth, scale-up creative businesses, the creative industries could make a dent in the UK’s productivity problem too.

“Providing the climate for such businesses to grow should be a top priority for local economic policymakers.”  

Nicola Mendelsohn, Industry Chair of Creative Industry Council, said:

“British creativity is world-renowned across a plethora of disciplines – from TV and film to media and advertising, from gaming and visual effects to music and art. What makes British creative industries unique is the diversity of the people that make it. And indeed, it’s thrilling to see that towns like Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Luton and Manchester are driving growth, entrepreneurship and innovation across the UK. These creative powerhouses are creating new jobs weekly and help paving the way to reach one million new creative jobs by 2030.”

The Creative Nation map is available to view at http://data-viz.nesta.org.uk/creative-nation and the report can be viewed via www.nesta.org.uk/publications/creative-nation.

Creative Nation is the latest in data vis from Nesta in mapping the creative economy, following The Clubbing Map, The Museums Map, The Geography of Creativity in the UK, A Map of the UK Games Industry and Interactive data visualisations of the UK’s creative economy.


For media enquiries, case studies and interviews please contact Anna Zabow in Nesta’s press office on on 020 7438 2697 or [email protected]

Notes to Editor

  1. Nesta estimates that between 2011-14 and 2015-16, the UK creative industries created 162,000 new employees. If they continue growing at this rate, this would lead to a rise in creative industries employment of 900,000 between 2013 and 2030, very close to the goals set by Nesta (2015) ‘The creative economy and the future of employment’ (which included creative jobs in the creative industries and creative jobs embedded in other sectors). However, over three quarters of this new employment would concentrate in the top 10 TTWAs. And without improvements on creative business productivity or an increase in company sizes, its contribution to addressing the UK’s productivity crisis would be limited.
  2. Pearson and Nesta (2017), ‘The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030’
  3. The Creative Nation interactive map uses official, open and web data to map the creative industries in the UK. This includes their evolution, contribution to local economic development, the strength of their support ecosystems – including research and networking – and their connections with each other. The report, in partnership with Creative Industries Council, makes use of GlassAI’s innovative dataset.
  4. Creative Nation analyses the geography of the UK’s creative industries using Travel To Work Areas (TTWAs), an official geography capturing local labour markets – the locations where people live and work. These geographies are often used for the analysis of industrial clusters because their definition is based on economic rather than administrative or policy factors.
  5. Juan Mateos-Garcia, Head of Innovation Mapping at Nesta and lead author on the report, is available for interview.
  6. Interviews with local case studies are available upon request.

About Nesta

Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills.  We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities.  We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment.  To find out more visit www.nesta.org.uk

Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

Part of