Digital Creative Roadmap – Harnessing Ireland’s creative talent

Recently, the Digital Creative Industries Roadmap 2024-2026 was published, with some 54 pages outlining the in-depth plans, ambitions and actions for the overall commercial creative sector in Ireland. We have condensed the Digital Creative Industries Roadmap into this 5 minute overview. Grab a coffee and read through the ambitious and exciting plans for the design, digital games, and content creation sector.

What is it?

This is the Digital Creative Industry Roadmap for 2024 – 2026, commissioned by the Irish Government in partnership with Creative Ireland.

Who is it for?

The roadmap identifies the creative industries as those which utilise creativity as a means to deliver commercial success and employment across a broad range of sectors including advertising, design, software and digital games, the audiovisual sector, publishing and press, architecture, music, fashion, the wider arts, libraries and cultural heritage. Building on the progress made with the implementation of the Audiovisual Action Plan, this Roadmap focuses on the digital creative industry sub-sectors of design, digital games and wider content creation.

  • Design sectors include industrial design, product design, visual communications, Ui/Ux (User-interface/User-experience) and interaction, service and strategic design;
  • Digital Games Sector
  • Content creation sectors including advertising and brand agencies, visual and audiovisual content for commercial social media, apps and for newer and emerging platforms such as AR/VR/MR (Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality / Mixed Reality).

What’s the context for all this?

With the importance of the commercial creativity sector to our economy at home, not to mention it’s export potential, the Government aims to establish Ireland as a global leader across design, digital games, and wider content creation sectors. The plan is for a Digital Creative Industries Forum to be established in order to facilitate information on market supports and opportunities as well as industry input to form new policy which supports the development of the digital creative industries.

Who is responsible for all this?

Responsibility for driving this Forum will rest with a Digital Creative Industries Implementation Group, which will report to the Government on an annual basis. A programme of work for the Forum will be put in place based on the actions identified in this Roadmap. Throughout the year, the Implementation Group and Forum will meet quarterly with any additional work undertaken on specific issues as needed.

The Forum will be co-chaired by senior officials from Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media (DTCAGSM) and The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE).

How big is this sector?

The contribution of these creative industries is estimated to represent 5.5% of the EU Economy, or €413 billion in value added. Ireland’s creative industries are estimated to contribute 3.73% to our Gross Value Added, which is below the EU average and is an indication of the opportunity for growth in this sector.

These industries are also a key employment sector for Ireland, accounting for 8.9% of the national employment, placing our creative industries employment quotient as the second highest in the EU. In addition, research undertaken by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked creative thinking as the second most important skill for the future of jobs in 2023, so the importance of this sector in terms of employment is significant.

Ok, so what does success look like?

A great example of this kind of Government initiative, bringing together a focused effort on a single sector of the economy, in conjunction with EU support, is the recent success of the Irish Film and TV industry. Since 1980 there has been a sustained and targeted approach to building the overall Irish TV, film and animation industry. With support from the EU, this has been facilitated by a range of Government departments and State agencies. In an EU context, the economic contribution of Ireland’s creative industries registered the highest growth rate of any Member State between 2013 and 2017, so the opportunity for growth and employment is huge.

In this instance, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media (DTCAGSM) brought forward an Audiovisual Action Plan in 2018, resulting in Government support for the audiovisual sector through Screen Ireland and Coimisiún na Meán. As a result of this targeted and sustained investment, our audiovisual sector continues to go from strength to strength.

You need only look back at the past few years to see the success of Irish TV and Film both at home and abroad with the likes of ‘Normal People’ which became a global phenomenon, Cartoon Saloon, the five-time Academy Award®, Golden Globe® nominated and BAFTA and Emmy winning animation studio based in Kilkenny or the most recent success of Element Pictures, the production company behind ‘Poor Things’ which has a staggering 11 nominations for the 2024 Academy Awards. For more on this topic, read Patrick Freyne’s recent article on the rise of Irish creative success here.

What else is happening in this space?

There are a few initiatives across the board that are ongoing, all with the ultimate goal of growing the commercial Irish creative sector:

  • National Design Centre: Under Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan 2018–2027, its planned that a National Design Centre will be established as an incubation and training facility.
  • Design focus: The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (D&CCI) has also published a new five year strategy, committed to embedding design more deeply in society and the economy.
  • Gaming Sector: The global digital games industry has more than doubled in size since 2011, although employment in this industry in Ireland has fallen by 18% in that time frame, despite strong graduate output from third and fourth level courses. Ireland has introduced a tax credit for the digital games industries, which is a cornerstone of unlocking Ireland’s potential in this sector.

So, what is at the core of this roadmap?

This roadmap lays out the various challenges and opportunities for the commercial creative sector in Ireland. It’s broken into different sections, with specific actions for each. Let’s dive in:

  • People: Collaboration & Communication

The main ambition here is to develop an Industry Forum to facilitate the sharing of information, knowledge and support with the communities.

  • Education: skills & talent

The focus here is enabling new and different ways of learning and to embed creativity further into our communities. Beyond the current remit, there is an opportunity to integrate creative skills across other disciplines in further and higher education (e.g. in areas of science, technology and engineering). This will take the form of apprenticeships and other further learning initiatives.

  • Enterprise supports

This focuses on growing digital games and content creation and employment through targeted support. This may look like identifying future opportunities and growth markets, ensuring continuing professional development for existing specialists, giving clarity on eligibility for both financial and non-financial support from Enterprise Ireland and all Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) to grow and export.

  • Innovation & knowledge creation

The focus here is on promoting the range of LEO innovation initiatives to the targeted creative industry sectors, along with signposting relevant Enterprise Ireland schemes for microenterprises or SMEs in innovation, innovation funding, innovation partnerships and commercialisation.

  • Creative Spaces

The importance of creative cities is well recognised and a 2019 EU study of 190 creative cities scores Irish cities very favourably in the rankings, particularly in relation to cultural vibrancy and the enabling environment. However, Ireland’s cities did not fare as well in the assessment of the creative economy when creative employment, patent applications and design applications were taken into account.

The ambition is to look at various options and opportunities to create physical spaces for the development of the design, digital games and content creation industries. This may be done through working with Regional Enterprise Plans, Údarás na Gaeltachta and the WDC.

  • Ireland as an International Marketplace- Attracting Talent, Trade, and Investment

Research has shown various barriers to exporting and so Ireland’s National SME and Entrepreneurship Growth Plan commits to the development of sector-specific networks for data gathering, shared learning and mentoring for exporting. The UK has a dedicated export strategy for the creative industries and it’s now understood that a similar initiative for Irelnd would be welcomed, particularly in the context of Brexit.

All of this would also support vital talent attraction and create opportunities which could encourage Irish talent, working abroad, to return home to work in Irish industry.

This is a comprehensive document, pulling together relevant and research information to build towards a proactive plan for the digital creative industry in Ireland. To recap on the outlined plan, the ambition is to:

  • Take the learnings and proposed actions from within this roadmap.
  • Establish a Digital Creative Industries Forum.
  • This Forum will be co-chaired by senior Government officials from DTCAGSM and DETE.
  • The progress of the Roadmap will be overseen by an Implementation Group. It will also include DFHERIS, DRCD and Enterprise Ireland, along with the relevant State agencies.
  • The Implementation Group and Forum will meet quarterly with additional work undertaken on an ongoing basis on specific issues, which will then feed into the work of the Forum.
  • It will be a task of the Implementation Group to report to Government on the progress on the implementation of the Roadmap, and review progress on an annual basis to ensure the work plan for the Forum remains up to date.

It is a mammoth ambition to undertake, and one which will need cooperation and collaboration from many different organisations and bodies but the overarching goals are clear. Ireland has a wealth of talent and ambition and there is huge scope for further development and growth if we can harness the potential of the digital creative industries sector.

To read the roadmap document in full, please see here:

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