The Creative Industries Network Programme 2014-2017 was created to help micro businesses increase their competitiveness and collaboration to make more impact.

A new way to help develop the Creative Industries in the Highlands and Islands was formed to overcome peripherality.

Clusters were set up - each with a manager - in the areas of : 1) screen and broadcast (covering all forms of screen including games), 2) music, 3) crafts, fashion and textiles, and 4) writing/publishing.

These clusters provided advice and support in areas of digital skills, business planning and commercial partnerships, not just in the Creatives Industries but also in sectors including tourism, and heritage.

A cluster model was devised that was flexible, highly entrepreneurial and designed to create scale through collaboration for the many micro and SME businesses in the Creative Sector. This took the form of four clusters providing year round activity with a multifaceted industry event (XpoNorth) held every Summer. The clusters provided the opportunity for the industry to articulate what it wanted from the public sector, and also to engage in the delivery of that support.

Within Creative Industries itself, the support focused on scaling up businesses, supporting the entry into new markets, and supporting innovation around business models and products/services.

Resources needed

HIE £1.065,600
ERDF £950,400
Creative Scotland £360,000

Evidence of success

The outputs delivered:
• 200 businesses facilitated through provision of advice and training;
• 300 jobs created;
• Increase in GVA totalling £9m;
• 10 newsletters;
• 1 major international showcase event;
• 3 additional showcase events;
• 6 trade events attended;
• 20 local events;

Difficulties encountered

One challenge encountered was the need for better and improved communication. This was an investment in time and resources to improve communication activities and get the private sector actors bought in to believe in collaboration and not just competition.

Potential for learning or transfer

The nature of the Creative Industries, especially across remote and rural geographies, often makes it challenging for regional development agencies to tailor appropriate support. The Cluster model allowed for good engagement and interaction across the range of businesses, encouraging collaboration and growth.

Clusters can work with micro businesses/sole traders covering a large geography, even covered more than one island.

Main institution
Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Highlands and Islands, United Kingdom
Start Date
April 2014
End Date
March 2017


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