The team had a good idea of the types of businesses in the region prior to the launch of the programme, but are pleasantly surprised by the range and variety of companies who have applied. The East Midlands region is being led by Leicester City Council and encompasses Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland.
EMC2 East Midlands Creative Consortium
About the region
The East Midlands Creative Consortium, EMC2, is supported by the University of Lincoln and De Montfort University, as well as Derby City Council, and leaders from Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
Historically, the region has not been recognised for its creativity and innovation, instead being known for textile manufacture. However, the team behind the Create Growth Programme in the East Midlands are keen to change perceptions:
“For us it’s about raising the profile of the sector and making it known that we do have a creative cohort in our area,” says Elizabeth Botmeh, Head of Delivery & Governance, for Leicester LEP.
The team had a good idea of the types of businesses in the region prior to the launch of the programme, but are pleasantly surprised by the range and variety of companies who have applied.
There are plenty of marketing and communications businesses, but also social media, traditional print media, interior design and architecture. They’ve also got tech businesses such as app developers and computer programmers.
When running their generic growth hub programmes in the past, Elizabeth and the team haven’t seen many creative businesses apply for funding or support. As such, they weren’t sure what kind of response they would get.
However, the number of expressions of interest has demonstrated an untapped need in the region, which the team are excited to explore.
I think lots of people are dismissive of the creative sector, so for us it’s being able to shout about it with confidence. We believe in the creative sector!
Elizabeth Botmeh, Head of Delivery & Governance, Leicester LEP
Objectives and delivery
The team hope to change perceptions and raise the sector profile in the East Midlands, creating a legacy of creative support. Elizabeth says: “Historically, the businesses we’re seeing on this programme haven’t come anywhere near our generic business support. We’re trying to identify what we can do to support them legacy wise.”
The team also want to establish a more formal support programme that provides more structure and drives longevity. Elizabeth says, “We are working with some of the organisations that support the creative sector to try to establish how we can develop this programme long-term.”
To help them deliver, they’ve brought in creative expertise from Manchester, who will work with 20 to 25 businesses in the first cohort.
The process begins with in-depth diagnostics to understand individual needs, strengths and weaknesses, and devise a bespoke support package. The programme includes coaching and mentoring sessions with industry experts and investors, as well as networking opportunities, investment-readiness coaching and pitching practice sessions.
Impact and response
The initial response to the launch of the Create Growth Programme has been extremely positive, from businesses and within the local authority and supporting organisations.
Elizabeth says, “It’s been a fantastic news story for us, obviously for the business but also for the LEP. The programme coming along and securing funding has really energised the team.”
The team have been blown away by the response and are excited to put East Midlands creatives on the map. They’re thrilled that the state is investing in the programme and recognising the importance of growth in the creative sector.
In terms of the programme itself, the overall experience has been one of collaboration, including between regions. Elizabeth says, “I could approach any of the regions and they would answer my queries. It’s not like some things where everyone shuts the gates – they are all really supportive.”