| FER17, Statements

Karl-Uwe Bütof

Statement Karl-Uwe Bütof at #FER17

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Ladies and gentlemen,

A long and eventful conference day is drawing to a close. My task now is to hold your attention for just a little longer. I am sure it is no accident that the organisers chose to put a talk about ‘New Economies – Creative Industries’ at the end of a day dedicated to the topic of ‘Culture 360°’. Culture has played a big role today; now let’s take a look together at the role that creative work and the creative industries play in economic development.

I am delighted that the european centre for creative economy, ecce, has once again bridged the gap between culture and the economy with this year’s Forum Europe Ruhr. The new state government that took office in July is explicitly committed to harnessing the innovative power of the creative industries. I would like to give you a preview of some of the concrete plans.

But first I would like to define the field we work in: What do we mean when we talk about the creative industries? And why is this sector not the first one that leaps to mind when we talk about the strengths of North Rhine-Westphalia as a place to do business, or when we talk about jobs and turnover?

I believe that, first and foremost, it has something to do with the pictures most of us have in our minds. NRW is and remains an industrial heartland. Engineering, steel, chemicals – these are the sectors that define our state’s image. Rightly so, and that is how it should remain. Nonetheless, we need to broaden our perspective. We are also a state in which knowledge-intensive, industry-linked services are playing an increasingly important role. Logistics, healthcare, IT & telecommunications and other sectors are creating jobs and prosperity. And we are also an important destination for domestic and international tourism.

So what role do the creative industries play in North Rhine-Westphalia? And who exactly is behind this term that is so rich in associations? Those responsible for German economic policy have come up with a mutually agreed definition that breaks the creative industries down into eleven subindustries: architecture, design, music, book market, art, film, broadcasting, performing arts, press, advertising and software & video games. Alongside this definition, we have also agreed a set of common statistical and measurement principles.

In regular reporting on the creative industries – which, it should be noted, began here in North Rhine-Westphalia – we report on turnover in the sector, the number of jobs and companies, and the considerable contribution that the creative industries make to value creation in the state. To mention just a few key figures: In NRW, there are over 50,000 companies in the creative industries, employing almost 300,000 people and generating an annual turnover of around 36 billion Euros. This means the sector is a key driver of jobs in NRW. It has seen steady growth in value creation and employment numbers for several years, and is highly resistant to crises. In NRW, the subindustries with the highest turnover are design, advertising, the press and the bookmarket. Another key feature is the important role played by small and micro-companies. There are bigger companies too, of course, especially in the press and advertising markets. But a large proportion of value creation comes from small, owner-managed businesses. So even a successful product design company with 20 employees can be a big player.

When I look at the creative industries, it is not only the figures I have just quoted that interest me, nor the quantifiable factors. It is also the impact that it has on other industries. In NRW, the creative industries is a pioneering sector. With their innovations and diverse projects, NRW’s creatives are important partners for our traditional industry. They are also playing a big part in driving forward digitalisation. Crucial impetus is coming from the video games industry, from the music industry – which was affected by the increasing digitalisation of all business models at a very early stage – and from the design industry.

The creative industries have enormous potential. To illustrate this, I would like to broaden the context in which the term ‘creative industries’ is generally understood. My starting point: Let’s regard the creative industries not just as a sector, but also as a concept! As mentioned earlier, policymakers, public authorities and many industry stakeholders have settled on a common definition of the term ‘creative industry’. To find out about the importance of the creative industries, I would now like us to look beyond the boundaries of this definition. In NRW, we see the creative industries as a cross-sectoral industry that does not just combine a variety of creative disciplines, but also permeates other fields of activity and value chains – from industrial production to corporate services. If we concentrate exclusively on clearly delineating the boundaries and criteria of the creative industries, then we will overlook the significant contribution that creativity makes to value creation in other sectors too. No computer scientist, horticulturalist or electrical engineer could be successful without creativity. So perhaps we instead need to understand the creative industries as a broader concept, one that is concerned with establishing the conditions for innovation and the creation of tangible and intangible value.

This is where the state government’s strategy comes in. The topic of the foundation of new companies and the digitalisation of our state’s economy and public administration are key priorities for the Ministry of Economic Affairs. There are lots of people sitting here in this room who earn a living running their own creative businesses. Conditions for doing business and the challenges of digitalisation are issues that you too have to deal with. So we have concerns in common. That is why in the future the Ministry of Economic Affairs wants to continue talking with you about what we can do together to move NRW forward. You as creatives, as entrepreneurs from the creative industries, you can play a crucial role in shaping the future. Events like the Forum Europe Ruhr are so important because they bring together creativity, pioneering spirit and contacts, facilitating the creation of new value. A particularly successful example of this is the NICE Award, which was presented last night. The submitted projects and award winners perfectly illustrate how creativity can provide answers to urgent social questions and show how new business models can emerge from that. That is why the Ministry of Economic Affairs has been funding the award for several years.

Since July, the new state government has already initiated several concrete measures that will make work easier for creative entrepreneurs from all industries. Minister Prof. Andreas Pinkwart spent the first few weeks after his appointment getting an overview. He visited the places where creative company founders meet, such as Startplatz in Cologne and Düsseldorf, garage33 in Paderborn and DigitalHubs across the state, including here in Essen. We need these places, where creatives and other entrepreneurs can think outside the box, swap ideas and develop disruptive business models. This kind of climate enables market-changing innovations. We also need opportunities for people to come together and collaboratively develop new ideas. And we need the people who create these places and opportunities. So today I would like to thank the ecce team for their dedication to creating such opportunities, like the NICE Award yesterday and the event today. The same approach is also shared by the state government. The initial groundwork has already been laid down: We want to free budding entrepreneurs from unnecessary bureaucracy. The new Minister of Economic Affairs launched an online survey on this topic just ten days after taking office. Young entrepreneurs and anyone interested in starting a new company can let us know which regulations they think are unnecessary, and can share their ideas for policies to support start-ups. We want to incorporate the results into a new funding era, which aims to usher in a new start-up boom in NRW. You are warmly invited to take part. We are planning a whole series of measures to make it easier to start a new company. They include the ‘Gründer-Stipendium NRW’ (‘NRW start-up grant’), which will support 1,000 company founders with 1,000 Euros each of funding per month. For those who have already successfully launched their businesses, we are going to be starting the new modernisation drive, ‘Neue Geschäftsmodelle’ (‘new business models’). We will be reviewing laws and regulations to assess whether they obstruct the emergence of new digital business models. Our goal is to remove barriers and create fair competitive conditions for new and existing models. The state government is determined to harness the innovative potential of the creative industries. Creatives are part of what defines North Rhine-Westphalia, and their work should get the attention it deserves. Attention is also the key to getting seedcapital for your own company. In the past few years, we’ve developed a whole series of policies that open up more space for creativity. Connecting the creative industries and other sectors is a top priority for CREATIVE.NRW, our centre of expertise for the creative industries. We are raising the profile of creative work in the industrial state of NRW. We are also funding initiatives that are strengthening the creative industries and allowing creative entrepreneurs – designers, video game developers, fashion designers, composers – to tap into domestic and international markets. Let me return to one topic in particular: Digitalisation is the big challenge forour society.

NRW can take a leading position in the digital revolution if we combine our strong industrial core with the ideas of young, creative start-ups. This will allow us to unlock our state’s vast innovative potential and to secure existing jobs and create new ones. That is why we’ve set up Digital Hubs, regional centres where young talents, SMEs and large corporations working in creative digital fields can come together. We haveve provided 12.5 million Euros of funding to hubs in Aachen, Bonn, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Münster and the Ruhr region. Other important tools for promoting creativity as a pillar of our economy are our lead market competitions. The CreateMedia.NRW competition alone has 40 million Euros of funding from the European Regional Development Fund until 2020. CreateMedia.NRW is a competition for innovative projects from the media and creative industries. Interim results are very positive: So far, an independent panel has recommended over 30 projects for funding. And they clearly show how creativity can become a resource and how this resource can feed into the development of products and services. The selected projects are highly varied in their aims, which range from developing a game-based app to support care for people living alone, creating animated 3D visualisations of architectural models and finding ways to ensure data security for SMEs in the e-commerce sector. The commitment we are showing to the creative industries is a sign of how seriously we take this cross-sectoral, highly innovative industry, which has slotted neatly into existing economic structures and become closely connected with other sectors.

My conclusion is: We have great companies. We just need to raise much more awareness of them. NRW must compete in the top league. So we are going to do more to emphasise our strengths. With our close-knit network of universities and research institutions and our wealth of creative talent, our state offers an ideal environment for innovative companies. We want to make NRW a coveted location for company founders and investors.

I would like to invite you to work with us towards this goal!