Beyond their undoubted impact on social, democratic and cultural wealth, CCIs are increasingly being acknowledged as industrial and economic assets. The most commonly used definition of cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in European policy making comprises the following fields and sectors: architecture, books and publishing, design, advertisement, film business, music business, radio & TV, software and games, performing arts. According to the former European Creative Industries Alliance, the CCIs represented in 2014 (latest figures known) around 3% of EU GDP and 6.7 million jobs with above average growth rates. “Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries” has therefore become a factor of competitiveness for the European economy as clearly demonstrated in the eponymous EC Green Paper from 2010.

While many regions have identified CCIs as one of their S3 priorities (see Smart Specialisation Platform), Austria  went further, incorporating CCIs in the national policy framework through the Creative Industries Strategy for Austria, a good practice developed in 2016 and identified by the Interreg Europe project Regional Creative Industries Alliance (RCIA) – From European recommendations to better regional CCI policies for a more competitive economy. It is the result of a co-creative and participatory process led by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, which culminating moment was a multiple stakeholders’ workshop involving about 100 representatives of the creative industries from all federal provinces of Austria.

As a result, the Creative Industries Strategy for Austria became full part of the Austrian strategic policy framework aiming at strengthening Austria’s innovation system, thus complementing the Federal Government’s strategy regarding research, technology and innovation (the RTI strategy), the Open Innovation Strategy, the Gründerland (“founder’s land”) Strategy, the Open Access Recommendations, the IP Strategy and the Digital Road Map,. The Creative Industries Strategy for Austria contains a series of 22 specific measures covering three pillars for a strategic approach to the development of CCIs:

1. Improving the competitiveness of the Austrian CCIs as an economic sector by developing entrepreneurial skills, improving location-related conditions, fostering young talents and supporting the internationalisation of creative enterprises.

2. Strengthening the innovation capacities of the Austrian CCIs, by increasing their innovation know-how, e.g. about methods supporting innovation processes, and improving their access to funding and venture capital.

3. Exploiting the positive contribution of CCIs to transform and improve the competitiveness of other sectors, including public administration, by fostering cross-sector collaboration with CCIs and creating awareness on their impact, including quantitative data.

The Austrian commitment to the implementation of this strategy is demonstrated through the setup or continuation of dedicated support programmes such as the impulse grant scheme (up to 50.000 EUR) for innovative projects within the CCIs or the Kreativwirtschaftsscheck – KWS (Creative Voucher) scheme, which supports (up to 5.000 EUR) any Austria-based SME for cooperation with a creative service provider from anywhere in the world. The KWS voucher has already been used by over 2.000 Austrian SMEs (about 300 per year) and 2.000 SMEs apply each year to this scheme.

The Austrian example constitutes a comprehensive strategy framework, which is currently being used as a blue print by other partner regions from RCIA and beyond. For policymakers interested in taking up the approach applied in Austria, the strategy offers the following “lessons learnt” for the development of CCIs:

Despite their broad scope, diversity and remaining shortcomings when it comes to the statistical identification and quantification of CCIs, their overall weight in the economy and strong dynamics do well justify policy efforts on local, regional and national levels. The policy efforts on different levels help to identify the main characteristics of CCIs, monitor quantitatively and qualitatively their development, and address their specific challenges in the framework of dedicated policies;

CCIs have the potential to make a significant positive contribution to the development of other economic sectors, including traditional manufacturing ones. They can therefore hardly be fully ignored by any region and shall not only be considered for their own economic weight and development potential, but also as an enabler for the competitiveness of the whole economy.

Exemplarily data from Austria (2017) demonstrate well the overall potential impact of CCIs on the economy: each Euro of turnover generated by the Austrian CCIs generates EUR 1,7 in production for the Austrian economy. And each job in the creative economy safeguards an additional 0,7 employee in the Austrian economy.

Consequently, strategy and policy making for CCIs needs therefore to make sufficient room for interaction with multiple stakeholders from different sectors.  

The Good Practices database of the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform provides further examples of good practices related to the development of CCIs. The Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform expects to explore further the impact of CCIs on economic competitiveness in a policy brief to be published in the coming months.

Further information:

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