How to support entrepreneurs in the digital creative industry?

Sylvie Reinhard, Mar. 27, 2014

Last February we gathered young entrepreneurs active in the field of digital creative industry to discuss their needs and challenges. The workshop idea came out of a series of discussions initiated by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia exploring how to effectively stimulate creative industries in Switzerland.

Connecting policy makers and practitioners

Instead of having discussions only on a policy-making level we thought it would be great to actually hear from the practitioners and entrepreneurs in the field, to learn what they miss to thrive. So we organized this discussion platform at Lift14, with the support of Pro Helvetia, the Federal Office of Culture and the City of Geneva, for young actors to voice their opinions.

Sylvie from the Lift team kicked-off the event by moderating a discussion with two young start-ups in the field: Apelab, specializing in spatial interactive storytelling and pervasive game design, alongside Studio preorder & soldout, dedicated to interactive scenography.

Quickly it became clear that for these young entrepreneurs coming from a design school background the biggest challenges were mostly marketing- and funding strategies.

Too commercial for culture, too "artsy" for business? 

In the discussion- and ideation phase moderated by Nicolas Nova there was lively debate about important issues like communicating the (business) value of design. It seems that quite a lot of stakeholders in Switzerland fail to see the huge economic opportunities of the digital creative industries, as well as the need to adapt supporting mechanisms to this growth sector. Furthermore missing collaboration between economic- and cultural funding institutions often puts young entrepreneurs and designers in this field in a situation where they are perceived as too commercial by cultural institutions and too “artsy” by economic promotion. Even if their projects are critically acclaimed by the New York Times and win international awards - as it is the case for example with Apelab - they end up getting no support from neither of them. There is a support gap for these actors to finance first prototpyes and properly bootstrap their businesses in an early stage.

Voice your opinion, help us rate support strategies

We documented the discussion results in a report (in French for now, translation hopefully following soon!) and as Lift is all about actually making change happen, we thought about first solutions to address these challenges. We put the 12 key ideas together in a 5-minute survey and would appreciate very much if you could help us rate these ideas! 

The political urgency to act now

In June 2014 Federal Councillor Alain Berset will present the second federal culture message, listing the priorities and culture areas that the Swiss Government will support 2016-2019. There is a chance that the digital creative industry will be featured in this cultural strategy (and budget..) and we hope that with the survey response we will be able to emphazize the need of support in this area and provide actionable ideas for how to do so.

Let's try to shape our future together, thank you for your inputs!