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Creative Credits: A randomized controlled industrial policy experiment

This report examines the results of a pilot study to see if a popular business support scheme called Creative Credits worked effectively.

This report examines the results of a pilot study, which used a method of evaluation called randomised control trials (RCTs) to see if a popular business support scheme called Creative Credits worked effectively.

Key findings:

  • Previous research has suggested that creative businesses, as a source of new ideas and knowledge, exert positive influences on innovation in other firms they are transacting with. 

  • Creative Credits created genuinely new relationships between SMEs and creative businesses, with the award of a Creative Credit increasing the likelihood that firms would undertake an innovation project with a creative business they had not previously worked with by at least 84 per cent.

  • The evidence also supports the view that working with creative businesses can lead firms to be more innovative.

This report examines the results of a pilot study, which used a method of evaluation called randomised control trials (RCTs) to see if a popular business support scheme called Creative Credits worked effectively.

 

The pilot study, which began in Manchester in 2009, was structured so that vouchers, or 'Creative Credits', would be randomly allocated to small and medium-sized businesses applying to invest in creative projects such as developing websites, video production and creative marketing campaigns, to see if they had a real effect on innovation.

 

The research found that the firms who were awarded Creative Credits enjoyed a short-term boost in their innovation and sales growth in the six months following completion of their creative projects. However, the positive effects were not sustained, and after 12 months there was no longer a statistically significant difference between the groups that received the credits and those that didn’t.

 

The report argues that these results would have remained hidden using the normal evaluation methods used by government, and calls for RCTs to be used more widely when evaluating policies to support business growth.

 

Authors:

Hasan Bakhshi, John Edwards, Stephen Roper, Judy Scully, Duncan Shaw, Lorraine Morley and Nicola Rathbone

Authors

Hasan Bakhshi

Hasan Bakhshi

Hasan Bakhshi

Centre Director, Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC); and Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics, Nesta

Hasan oversees Nesta's creative economy policy, research and practical work.

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