Building innovative cultural and creative sectors and industries to secure Europe’s future

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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© EIT, 2021.

This article is part of our special report EU scales up efforts to support the culture and creative industry.

Europe has always been home to a thriving community of artists, intellectuals and professionals in the cultural and creative sectors and industries (CCSI). Today, these industries are experiencing some of the greatest challenges in recent history. The causes are diverse, and they can only be tackled together. That’s why the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) will launch a new Knowledge and Innovation Community, EIT Culture and Creativity, bringing together research, education and business to enable CCSI to flourish with innovation like never before.

Gioia Ghezzi is the Chair of the EIT Governing Board.

From architecture, film, television and video games to cultural heritage, music, publishing and performing arts, Europe’s CCSI play a crucial role in our society. At the end of 2019, they represented 4.4 % of the EU’s GDP in terms of turnover and employed 7.4 million people – 3.7 % of total employment. In addition to generating growth, they are at the heart of Europe’s identity and values, creating social cohesion by establishing a shared sense of history and culture.

These societal benefits as well as their economic potential mean the CCSI are capable of delivering world-class solutions to global challenges. Unfortunately, CCSI have rarely faced as many challenges as they do today. 

Surviving in a changing world 

Digitisation and globalisation especially are affecting the business of culture and creativity. Across Europe, creative and cultural organisations of all kinds are facing a lack of entrepreneurial and cross-cutting skills and are struggling to engage with new generations. Culture and creativity have strong local roots and high growth potential, but they are diverse, fragmented, and often micro-sized in terms of organisation. The COVID-19 crisis is an acute additional challenge, squeezing already tight margins and causing a 30 % job loss since the pandemic hit in 2020.

If the CCSI are to survive this crisis or, better yet, emerge stronger, they need a long-term approach that aims to make the sector crisis-resistant by addressing the root causes of unsustainability. In short: a lack of entrepreneurial skills, mentoring and the room to experiment and innovate are serious obstacles on the road to success.  

And that is precisely where the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) wants to step in. As Europe’s largest innovation ecosystem, we will support CCSI in not only making them more resilient and more connected industries and sectors, but also in harnessing their power to deliver solutions to challenges through our unique innovation model.

Rising to the challenge

To stimulate the development of innovative ecosystems, the EIT has set up Knowledge and Innovation Communities: pan-European partnerships among leading companies, research labs and higher education. These partnerships, of which there are currently eight, are dedicated to finding solutions to specific global challenges, from climate change and sustainable energy to healthy living and food. To date, the EIT Community has generated more than 13 000 jobs, EUR 3.3 billion in external investments, more than 1 170 innovative products and services and more than 3 100 graduates completing EIT education programmes. 

The EIT powers innovations of tomorrow and sees the early potential in start-ups to grow and scale. To date, the EIT has supported two unicorns (privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion): Lillium –the world’s first electric vertical take-off and landing jet, and Northvolt – a European supplier of sustainable, high-quality battery cells and systems.

Tapping into the potential of the creative and cultural sectors and industries, the EIT will soon be launching its ninth community, EIT Culture and Creativity, which will target the CCSI with the aim of launching innovative solutions and a new generation of entrepreneurs. Given its multi-disciplinary approach, The EIT wants to create more opportunities dedicated to innovators, learners and entrepreneurs from the CCSI. 

Creating an innovative future, together

Establishing an innovation ecosystem with the cultural and creative sectors and industries will enable them to leverage their potential together – boosting European sustainable growth and competitiveness. Innovating with the EIT could help kickstart CCSI transformation into future-proof, resilient sectors and at scale industries with the ability to tackle current and upcoming challenges. 

EIT Culture and Creativity will break down barriers to innovation across boundaries, sectors and disciplines. It will accelerate the sectors’ transition to new technologies and digital platforms. And it will power new ventures and equip the next generation of creative innovators with needed entrepreneurial skills. 

Are you ready to rise to the challenge?  Join our community to make a difference, forge a new partnership and innovate with the European Institute of Innovation & Technology. 

Find out more and join the dedicated webinar on Wednesday 21 April at 14:00.

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