Research led by the University of Brighton and funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) finds the first empirical evidence of what is fuelling above average levels of innovation among a new generation of business radicals.
The Brighton Fuse Report launched today provides deep empirical evidence of the economic impact of arts and humanities skills as drivers of innovation and growth in the digital economy. The findings identify a new type of business known as 'superfused', combining creative, digital and business skills to achieve growth figures almost three times as fast as other businesses and ten times that of the British economy overall.
With creative industries accounting for 9.7 per cent of the UK economy, greater than construction, advanced manufacturing, and financial services, this research is significant in classifying a new sector of business fusing the arts, humanities, and design with digital technology to achieve growth, as well as significantly higher levels of innovation, across a wider range of areas.
Conducted over two years by academics at the universities of Brighton and Sussex, and overseen by the National Council for Universities and Business and Wired Sussex, the Brighton Fuse project focused on Brighton’s vibrant cluster community to map and measure the activity and performance of creative, digital, and IT businesses (CDIT).
The research findings call for a reappraisal of how creativity and technology are 'fusing' and 'superfusing' to provide businesses with a new type of competitive edge linked to innovation in business management and production.
According to this research, 65 per cent of the Brighton sector is fused or superfused, breaking down traditional silos between arts and ICT. Also, 85 per cent of CDIT leaders possess degrees and one quarter are postgraduates. This evidences that firms are employing specialists but creating an interdisciplinary environment and workforce to harness the best of arts and humanities graduates (32 per cent) and scientists and computer engineers (21 per cent).
Principal Investigator for the project, Dr Jonathan Sapsed from the University of Brighton, said: "The Brighton Fuse project shows hard evidence of the interdisciplinary mix that drives economic growth and innovation in the creative-digital economy. We find the arts and humanities are just as important as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and business skills in this mix, both in resourcing firms and in starting up companies in these high-growth sectors.
"The project itself is an example of fusion between the Brighton Business School and the Faculty of Arts, and our partners at the University of Sussex, as well as Wired Sussex and the National Council for Universities and Business, for industry input and access. It is a pioneering project model supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council."
Professor Rick Rylance, Chief Executive and Deputy Chair of the AHRC, underlined the crucial role of arts and humanities graduates and skillsets in the fusion effect. He said:
"Creating a culture that supports the continuous innovation in practice and process through interdisciplinary working is not easy. This research underlines that fact, but also the rewards of high growth.
"While innovation has long been a corporate byword for growth, arts and humanities graduates are key players in building it into creative digital business DNA; delivering new processes (70 per cent) and new services (62 per cent). It's significant that almost half of business leaders in the fast growth Brighton cluster are arts and humanities and design graduates."