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Creativity, cites and innovation: Evidence from UK SMEs

Nesta Working Paper 13/10
Issued: April 2013
JEL Classification: O31; O380; R1; R11; R58 
Keywords: Innovation; Creative Industries; Creative Occupations; Cities; Innovation; Learning


The creative industries have long been seen as an innovative sector. More recent research posits that creative occupations are also a fundamental, but overlooked, driver of innovation. Theory also suggests cities are important for both creative industries and occupations, with urban environments helping firms innovate. Yet little empirical work has considered the links between creative industries, occupations, cities and innovation at the firm level.

This paper addresses this gap using a sample of over 9,000 UK SMEs. Our results stress that creative industries firms are more likely to introduce original product innovations, but not those learnt from elsewhere. Creative occupations, however, appear a more robust general driver of innovation. We find no support for the hypothesis that urban creative industries firms are particularly innovative. However, creative occupations are used in cities to introduce product innovations learnt elsewhere.

The results suggest future work needs to seriously consider the importance of occupations in empirical studies of innovation.


Neil Lee and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose

The Nesta Working Paper Series is intended to make available early results of research undertaken or supported by Nesta and its partners in order to elicit comments and suggestions for revisions and to encourage discussion and further debate prior to publication (ISSN 2050-9820). The views expressed in this working paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of Nesta.