The UK is a global leader in creative industries, with investment opportunities in TV, music, publishing, design, film, games development and advertising.
The UK is world-renowned as a creative powerhouse, with a 2020 press release from the UK government revealing that the creative industries contribute £13.2 million to the nation’s economy on an hourly basis, totaling an annual contribution of around £115.9 billion in 2019 according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The sector continues to grow at a rate that exceeds the national average growth rate by a factor of five. With its significant strengths in research and development, the UK is a global driving force for innovation in the creative industries.
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Video game production
The UK is the leading video game market in Europe, and the sixth-largest globally. In 2020, Statista reported that total UK revenue from the production of video games was £2.6 billion. With the global video games industry forecast to be worth £200 billion by 2025, the sector presents highly lucrative opportunities for investors.
The UK boasts a highly skilled workforce in the industry, and numbers of graduates in courses relating to games development has risen for seven consecutive years (1,380 in 2018-19). Immersive technologies in video game production are also being adopted across other sectors, including aerospace, automotive, space and healthcare, helping to meet training needs and improving the consumer experience.
Advertising and marketing
The Creative Industries Council reports that the UK advertising industry exports £11billion in services annually and expenditure of advertisement in the UK is expected to reach £29.3 billion by the end of 2021.
The UK has extensive capability in the production of advertisements, with more than 15,500 film and video companies. It’s also home to the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) Effectiveness Awards, ensuring high-quality advertising standards.
The rapidly growing advertising technology sector was valued at £16.5 billion in 2020, with digital advertisements becoming more widely used.
Television and film production
There is a high demand for British-made television and film. As part of the BFI2022 Future Film Skills Plan, the British Film Institute and ScreenSkills have been working together to create 30,000 new jobs, with plans to train 10,000 people to meet this demand over the next 5 years.
In 2020, the spend on high-end British television was £1.5 billion, forecast to reach £6 billion over the next few years.
Streaming giants are investing in the future of the sector. Netflix made a £1.2 million investment in 2021 to train 1,000 staff, providing 12-month contracts to work on projects such as ‘Bridgerton’. Sky recently invested in its new Sky Studios Elstree site, which will house 13 sound stages and attract £3 billion in new production investment over its first five years alone.
UK creative industries exports were worth £17.9 billion in 2019. Oxford Economics estimates that the sector could grow by over 26% by 2025, contributing £132.1 billion in GVA to the economy.
Creative industries are considered a driving force in the post-pandemic economic recovery of the UK; increased investment in the sector aims to generate an extra £28 billion for the economy by 2025 and create 300,000 more jobs.
Key UK assets
Manchester is rich in specialist talent, with an 86,000-strong creative workforce and a steady flow of graduates from the city’s five universities: 25,000 currently enrolled in creative, digital and technology courses. It’s also home to the MediaCity development, a base for the BBC and ITV Granada.
With increased studio capacity and 25% tax breaks for productions, Northern Ireland is attractive to streaming platforms such as Netflix and HBO. Productions such as ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Fall’ have been filmed on location across the country. Studio Ulster, a specialist institute driving innovation in virtual production, was recently established in Belfast.
Coventry and Warwickshire
Warwickshire has 15% of the UK’s games producers across 80 studios. The area boasts two world-renowned universities with courses in games technology: Coventry University and the University of Warwick. Their cross-university Disruptive Media Learning Lab promotes exploration in creative technology.
Home to the finest art colleges, such as the Royal College of Art and University of the Arts London, the city produces some of the finest talents across the creative industries, as well as a strong research and development base. A new Design District has been established in Greenwich, with 16 buildings housing up to 1,800 artists.
Guildford, near London, features a cluster of globally renowned creative content excellence with extensive capability in immersive technology. It offers more than 110 games development studios, including Hello Games, Media Molecule and Bullfrog Productions (now part of EA UK), and more than 1,800 creative tech professionals.
The UK has a thriving research and development scene in the creative arts. Just over half of creative firms in the UK have reported producing new or significantly improved products and services within the last three years.
It is home to several world-renowned art colleges, such as The Royal College of Art in London, ranked by QS World University Rankings 2021 as the No.1 university for art and design internationally.
Institutions that set standards in advertising and help oversee innovations in UK-produced marketing campaigns include the IPA, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Market Research Society (MRS).
The Creative Industries Cluster Programme has provided an £80 million investment to drive innovation in the sector. The programme has been successful in connecting world-class research talent with world-renowned creative businesses. Future Fashion Factory received £1 million in funding to support projects including an AI-powered virtual fitting service and an integrated design platform for creatives.
Business and government support
In its Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021, it was announced that £42 million would be allocated to support the UK’s creative industries, with focus on funding for SMEs to expand, and on providing support for the UK’s independent film and video game industries.
Creative industry companies involved in television, film, and theatre productions may qualify for Corporation Tax Relief from HMRC. There is Corporation Tax Video Games Tax Relief available for the production of games certified as being British-made by the British Film Institute (BFI).
The British Film Institute offers a Production Fund, where filmmakers can apply for grants to support productions valued between £250,000 and £15,000,000.
Avalanche Studios Group Ltd
Stockholm-headquartered video game developer Avalanche Studios Group recently invested in a production site in Liverpool in 2020. With over 17 years of experience and a strong portfolio of games, their new studio is set to employ over 50 people within the next two years.
A company that boasts the largest in-house game development staff in the world, Ubisoft expanded its operations to Leamington Spa in 2017. A team of 50 in the Leamington Spa studio collaborate with its other UK-based studio, Ubisoft Reflections, to develop a range of AAA games, with a focus on Tom Clancy’s ‘The Division’.
With global headquarters in Los Angeles, American games developer Cloud Imperium has announced plans to open a new studio in Manchester’s Enterprise City district in May 2022. The company’s new studio is set to create 700 new jobs by 2023, and over 1,000 in the next five years.