The creative industries are renowned across the globe as a major catalyst of leading edge innovation, driving growth and investment. The commercial benefits are clear: the UK's creative sector was worth £79.6 billion pounds in 2013, accounting for 5% of the UK economy and securing 1.7 million jobs. But to what extent does this impact upon connecting people and ideas across national borders and cultures? How can collective energy and expertise generate a creative force leading to innovation?
Where are the new opportunities for multilateral collaboration, as teams increasingly seek to address wider sets of challenges related to knowledge economies? The continuing success of the creative economy relies on constructing the conditions and infrastructure which harness the creative and imaginative thinking of individuals at the centre of the industry - nurturing human creativity by enabling them to think afresh, refashion and re-imagine new solutions and approaches which produce social, environmental and economic benefit and dividends.
It may be argued that the generation and cultivation of new ideas and thinking lies at the heart of a university's core activity. But do universities really offer the opportunity and critical mass to blend knowledge and experience with contemporary research in order to test, inspire and think anew? As 'anchor institutions', are they enablers of the creative economy in their own right, providing thought-leadership, stimulating new connections and collaborations? Universities can be hubs of talent and creative thinking, usually well-connected with business, institutions and organisations central to achieving the prosperity, success and well-being of their region, but does this mean they are a primary catalyst for unlocking 'capacity' and connecting 'talent' with opportunities for creative enterprise and regional development?
Informed by broad perceptions, different viewpoints and traditions, can universities offer a microcosm of a global community from which new perspectives, mutual learning and novel thinking can grow? Our four distinguished education leaders will argue these issues, giving you the chance to decide if universities really are fulfilling the role of enabler.