How to help the UK’s creative industries to be the world’s most successful creative country is a pressing question.
Get it right, and the creative industries will grow faster than the rest of the economy. Get it wrong, and creative businesses may miss out on reaping the rewards of their talent from a growing global market.
One challenge is access to finance. For years, creative businesses have said that it can be difficult to get access to the right types of finance to help their business grow. And today, new research from Govt departments BIS and DCMS shows that for particular types of creative content business such as software, games, music and TV, there are indeed problems accessing finance. Without finance, it is difficult to grow a business to its optimal scale – especially to compete with other, bigger players. Getting early-stage finance can be especially tough for creative firms.
So NESTA decided to do something practical to help one industry in particular – Games.
This week, we brought together games developers and venture capital firms together for an event that explored the role of investment in the games industry. There was a panel session with perspectives from an angel investor, VC firm and developer.
We also held a series of 1-2-1 sessions where the developers could talk to the VCs about investment. From both the panel session and the feedback we received, we had consistent messages:
• The big opportunity for games is online, where sites like Facebook can grow millions of users very quickly. VC firms are looking for these opportunities.
• Online games should now be perceived as a service, not a product – with opportunities to maintain a relationship with consumers over time, rather than selling a single product.
• External investment is not just about the money – it brings with it advice, contacts, networks and credibility. Mentoring creative businesses is very important.
• Creative businesses looking for investment need to think about the right “fit” with their investor and they also need to rehearse their pitch to help the investor understand their business fully.
• VC investment isn’t for every creative business. Creative firms need suitable finance which is right for their stage of growth. Investment from family and friends may be more suitable at certain times.
The feedback we’ve had has been good, so NESTA will be running more of these around the country. If you’re interested, please contact Jackie.Mckenzie@nesta.org.uk