The Western Development Commission (WDC) has welcomed the launch of 4CNW (Creative Challenge Celtic Crescent North West), a new business support programme for creative businesses in the North West. The programme will strengthen linkages between businesses in the creative sector and other high performing sectors. On the creative side this includes design, digital media, broadcasting, publishing and software, while the region’s high growth sectors are life sciences, tourism, technology and agri-food.
As well as encouraging knowledge exchange and better practice, a key strand of the programme will be the exchange of ‘talent vouchers’ to motivate and incentivise practical collaboration between the creative and high performing sectors. Such collaboration could see a life sciences company get 50% funding towards the cost (to a max. of €5,000) of innovative collaboration with a creative business. A €100,000 fund for talent vouchers has been secured which will leverage an €100,000 in match funding.
“4CNW is a tangible result of the WDC-led drive to fully realise the potential of the region’s creative sector. Innovative research that we commissioned from NUI, Galway in 2011 has highlighted the potential for a doubling of the numbers employed in the creative sector over the next 10 years. This could lead to up to €150 million in additional exports per annum from the sector. We know from our research that the creative economy in the Western Region is internationally significant with 4,775 businesses employing 11,000 people directly in 2009,” said Ian Brannigan, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the WDC.
Helen Rochford Brennan, Chair of the WDC said: “Creativity is a distinctive asset of the Western Region which has a rich and varied creative legacy. This has been manifested in many forms through the centuries from art, music and literature through to film, design and digital media. The WDC and the local authorities of Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo and Roscommon were successful in their bid to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry. This means that a fund of €200,000 is now available for innovative partnerships between the creative and other sectors.”
By linking creative SMEs with the wider economy, the programme is expected to safeguard 150 jobs and is considered a good example of how public bodies and local authorities can encourage business innovation and increase enterprise.
The WDC says that by positioning itself as a truly ‘Creative West’ the Western Region can attract talent, drive innovation in the wider knowledge economy and be recognised as an attractive location for business and tourism.
Businesses in counties Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo and Roscommon from the creative, technology, tourism, agri-food and life sciences sectors are encouraged to register their interest on www.lookwest.ie/4cnw. Interested businesses can also get information through Twitter on @CreativeStateNW and on facebook.com/TheCreativeState. The talent vouchers will be launched later this year.