Digital Design Studio, Glasgow School of Art © Scottish Development International / Scottish Enterprise
Article Published 21/04/2023
Innovation and development stem from creativity and artistic expression, things that define cultures, celebrate individualism, and are a key signifier of society's wellbeing. Importantly they are also tools to drive mass entrepreneurship and diversify economic opportunities for nations.
On World Creativity and Innovation Day (21 April) we consider Scotland's position as a beacon for creative industries, with our multitude of performing arts and music festivals taking place every year, growing tech companies that utilise data and art to drive innovative solutions for businesses and organisations, and specialist digital agencies that help to revolutionise the creative economy.
All these movements redefine our perception of progress and serve as a reminder that creativity and innovation are invaluable tools in helping to reach and build momentum towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Scotland's cities are buzzing with creativity and boast a diverse calendar of internationally acclaimed events that celebrate and promote the arts to audiences from all over the world.
Our capital city, Edinburgh, is renowned for its festivals, its creativity and celebration of the arts. Since 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival has taken place and celebrates music, theatre, opera, dance and culture from across the world. The event, which takes place over three weeks in August, provides an annual meeting point for people of all nations. In addition to its annual event, the Festival also has a community learning and engagement development programme which runs throughout the year and contributes to the cultural and social life of Edinburgh and Scotland.
The city of Glasgow, which was named the UK's top cultural and creative centre in 2020, is recognised for its openness, cultural vibrancy and creative economy. It is also named as one of 47 UNESCO cities of music, which acknowledges the rich music heritage of the city. In addition to this Glasgow is also home to Glasgow TechFest, which celebrates the creativity of the key players in the city's tech ecosystem. The event provides attendees with the opportunity to hear from and network with founders, investors, leaders and start-ups.
The city of Dundee is renowned for being a city of culture and in 2014 was named the UK's first, and to date only, UNSECO City of Design in recognition of its strong design heritage and cultural and creative roots. It is also home to Scotland's Design Museum, the V&A Dundee.
Last year, Scotland Re:Design hosted its annual Scottish Fashion Festival in Dundee, where it promoted the best of Scotland's fashion and textiles industry and focused on three core themes; equality, technology and sustainability. The V&A Dundee also held a Plastic Lab, a drop-in space which explored the use of plastics in today's world of fashion and textiles. Clare Campbell, founder of sustainable clothing brand Prickly Thistle Scotland, discussed her brand and showcased how she is trying to change the industry using cutting edge research and innovative social change projects in Scotland and beyond.
Creative Informatics is an ambitious Edinburgh-based programme that focuses on the intersection of art and technology to enhance working practices within film, music, design and gaming by offering support, training and funding to people in creative industries. They specialise in market research to understand how technology can be used to help with creative processes and therefore, develop new systems and tools alongside industry partners to innovate creative work.
Their various programmes on offer allow for new data-driven ideas to be continually shared and explored, helping to improve modalities of experience for the creative industries. Creative Informatics works with the community, helping other entrepreneurs who are beginning their journey within the creative industry through educational courses that utilise machine learning, virtual reality, and digital tools for storytelling.
The CI Innovation Showcase 2022 took place at Edinburgh College of Art and was a celebration of innovative products, services and experiences that helped to enhance the creative industries. All these ideas were made real through Creative Informatics funding programmes, helping individuals and organisations to pave the way for digital evolution in Scotland.
Another organisation that works to help and support people within creative industries is XPO North. Working with creatives specifically in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, XPO North provides digital advice and development opportunities through training and development, funding, networking, promotion and marketing.
Through collaboration and digital training, XPO North has supported creative Highland projects to pursue their ideas, helping to put the Highlands on the map and diversify the local economy. Hosting a range of conferences and events, bringing in industry leaders, government representatives and a whole host of creative professionals, these opportunities to connect and collaborate are important in helping to drive innovation across the country.