EU aims to boost innovation in ailing cultural, creative sectors

Revenues in cultural and creative industries have shrunk by 30% on average during the pandemic across the bloc, with performing arts revenues plummeting by as much as 90%. [EPA-EFE/Alejandro Garcia]

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

The European Union has launched a new initiative aimed at fostering innovation in the bloc’s ailing cultural and creative industries, which have been among the worst hit financially during the pandemic.

Revenues in cultural and creative industries have shrunk by 30% on average during the pandemic across the bloc, with performing arts revenues plummeting by as much as 90%. Before the pandemic, the sector employed up to 7.4 million people and was estimated to contribute to 4.2% of the EU’s GDP.

With this in mind, a new EU initiative aims to support the sector in this moment of hardship. Launched on 21 April, the initiative will be managed by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and is backed by the EU Commission, Council and Parliament.

Bringing together business leaders, researchers and innovators, the EIT will create a new Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) to prioritise cultural and creative industries, build bridges across sectors and promote financially sustainable projects.

The initiative, part of the EIT’s 2021-2027 Strategy, aims to take advantage of the full range of the EIT network, which includes projects on urban mobility, sustainability, energy, and education fields.

Manuel Heitor, Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, said the EIT had become a “point of reference” in innovation across many sectors. MEP Eva Kaili agreed, saying that the cultural sector was a crucial element of Europe’s competitive edge.

The EIT have so far supported eight KICs, comprising over 2,000 partners across Europe and raising investments worth €3.38 billion.

Catherine Magnan, head of unit for cultural policy at the European Commission, said the new initiative will complement existing EU initiatives in creative and cultural sector by focusing on innovation. She welcomed the KIC approach, which provides for closer collaboration with businesses.

EIT director Martin Kern pointed to the enormous innovation potential of the cultural and creative industries to contribute to Europe’s ongoing digital transition.

“One of the positive aspects that has come out of the pandemic and this crisis is that there has been an acceleration of the use of innovation the deployments and the use of digitalization. We hope the EIT can now make a major contribution in this sector” he told journalists.

The publication of the call for proposals that will establish a consortium of innovators from the creative industries is expected in the autumn, with a deadline of spring 2022.

EIT projects are generally required to address the industry’s key challenges, to become financially sustainable and to be business-driven.

[Edited by Josie Le Blond]

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