IT is no fluke that Britain’s young, creative businesses are concentrated in London. Two out of three international advertising agencies have their European headquarters in the capital. It is the home of one of the largest film centres in the world, some of the largest and most important fashion schools, design schools, stage schools and post-production centres, not to mention the growing number of web design and digital specialists that are spreading over the capital.
All too often the business press dismiss the creative industries, but the reality is that this sector is an economic powerhouse that contributes £59.2bn to the UK economy and provides 2.3m jobs. I believe we should celebrate the wealth of world-class creative talent that can be found in the capital, recognise the entrepreneurial wealth-creating potential that this sector of the economy has to offer. So how did London become such a global mecca for innovation? From the off, it has an unfair advantage due to the fact that the majority of the world’s media is English speaking, meaning that this country has always been able to punch above its weight worldwide.
Additionally, London has a time-zone advantage because it is the most centralised global city. The UK’s international sensibilities mean that it is not hampered by the lack of perspective the US can sometimes exhibit.
London is a magnet for talent and draws in people from all over the world. This is due to the fact it is perceived as being where the best jobs are, which in itself has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Consequently, London has a large and fluid workforce, and those working for large companies don't leave the city if they decide to set up their own businesses. The capital is home to several key universities as well as numerous creative colleges, and the abundance of talent graduating from these has resulted in a strong calibre of startups. For example, the renowned Central Saint Martins produces alumni such as Stella McCartney and the late Alexander McQueen.
To its credit, the capital’s creative industries are flourishing. The workforce is flexible and fast moving, readily forming clusters that encourage mutual growth and the spread of innovative ideas. So when a successful film centre is created, burgeoning post-production centres, fashion schools, design schools and stage schools will swiftly follow. The result of all this is an internationally prominent hub for the creative industries, with the firms based there stimulating growth by creating jobs and innovation, and making things better or faster or cheaper for the rest of us.
These young firms are a dynamic part of a vibrant economy so we must celebrate and support them every step of the way. We are doing our bit with School for Creative Startups, which will train one hundred young creative businesses to supercharge their growth. But more needs to be done and I call out to the City to spot the potential in these critical businesses.