- 27 July 2023
- 5 minutes
In globally challenging times, creativity is having a moment in the business world.
Through research, knowledge exchange and innovation, the RCA is constantly investigating and developing the symbiotic relationship between creativity and business. Our executive masterclasses like Creative Leadership and Design Thinking in Collaboration with the Design Museum provide accessible avenues to share our research as well as the experience and insights of globally successful leaders.
Our autumn masterclass, Building a globally successful creative business, is a collaboration between InnovationRCA, the RCA’s centre for entrepreneurship and commercialisation, and the award-winning creative business agency Made In China (UK) Ltd.
Here, the directors of these organisations, Dr Nadia Danhash (InnovationRCA) and Philip Dodd (Made in China (UK) Ltd), share their expertise and explain what can be expected from the upcoming masterclass.
What is most important to you about creativity in business?
Philip Dodd, Director, Made in China (UK) Ltd
Philip Dodd: "It is the easiest thing in the world to start a business; the hardest thing to nurture and develop it” – so said a serial entrepreneur whom I know. So what are the ingredients needed to sustain a business?
A key one – and it becomes clearer and clearer every day – is creativity. The word itself has a long history. Once creativity belonged to God, then in the European Renaissance to a specialised group called artists. Now we recognise that we are all creative (or at least potentially so!) and that both as individuals and as businesses, we need to be creative.
Dr Nadia Danhash, Director, InnovationRCA
Nadia Danhash: Creativity allows even small businesses to solve global issues. There are countless creative InnovationRCA start-ups on a global mission. For a company like Loowatt, creativity in solving a problem means that thousands of people in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to sustainable safe sanitation every day. For ZELP, global creativity means finding solutions to lower methane emissions from cattle that can be adapted to ruminants in pastures across the globe, while also protecting their welfare.
Why is creativity in business so important right now?
PD: The creative economy is projected to reach a global valuation of $985 billion (US) by this year and could represent 10 percent of global GDP before 2030. Just look how China is moving from ‘made in China’ to ‘created in China’ – along with its leading tech and manufacturing sectors, it wants Chinese culture at the heart of everything it puts its name to.
“As the pace of change only accelerates – and Covid for complex reasons accelerated the change – the demand for creativity increases ever more.”Director, Made in China (UK) Ltd
As the pace of change only accelerates – and Covid for complex reasons accelerated the change – the demand for creativity increases ever more. If traditional businesses need creative skills, creative industries often need business skills. Sadly, these two groups rarely sit in the same room together. But they have much to learn from one another.
ND: We’re facing some tough global challenges that require the balancing of many conflicting needs – and the clock is ticking. Incremental innovation is certainly not going to provide the right solutions. Fresh perspectives are needed and creativity.
InnovationRCA start-up Loowatt
What industries benefit the most from creativity?
ND: There’s no right answer, every industry requires an element of creativity to grow and evolve with (or better yet, lead) the market. To date, InnovationRCA has built companies targeting health, agriculture, manufacturing and technology, the climate and lifestyles. It has attracted an ecosystem of investors who back these ventures and, most recently, has even embarked on raising the world’s first S/EIS investment fund within an art and design university to facilitate rapid expansion.
PD: Creativity and innovation – and they are not the same thing, even if closely allied – are skills all industries need, from healthcare to manufacturing. Why? Because every industry has difficult challenges that require creative solutions, not least to find new markets. The UK is not the centre of the world.
Made in China (UK) Ltd was the creative and content consultant on a major redevelopment on Beijing's premier commercial street. Client: Hongkong Land.
Why is creativity important in entrepreneurship?
ND: Businesses face competition. And when you have competitors snapping at your heels, you need to think creatively to stay ahead. That creativity might be in the design of your product or service, or it could be in devising a novel business model.
“When you have competitors snapping at your heels, you need to think creatively to stay ahead.”Director InnovationRCA
PD: I have always thought that Charles Dickens, the great novelist of London, ought to be seen as a beacon of creative entrepreneurialism. He sliced up his novels into monthly packages, floated them out into the market and didn’t hesitate to sail to America to find new markets as well as defend his copyright.
Creative Leadership Masterclass in September 2022
Can creativity be taught?
ND: I believe so, if there is a seed of creativity, it can be nurtured through proven methods. InnovationRCA has developed its own approaches to helping founders build successful ventures. It has validated these approaches with first-time entrepreneurs and more experienced business professionals. We understand that to innovate successfully, whether you are running a ‘traditional’ business or starting a new creative one, you need the right business model – a model that is suited to today’s world and tomorrow’s. Tomorrow is where creativity is crucial.
“If there is a seed of creativity, it can be nurtured through proven methods.”Director, InnovationRCA
PD: Creativity can be taught, but it’s more like cooking than recipe writing. You have to be in the kitchen – it’s something you do, it’s a practice. It is best taught by those who are ‘doing creativity’ in their everyday work-life – who understand its pleasure and pains.
It’s also best taught in cities, like London, that we call ‘creative cities’ where creativity can be found everywhere and not simply in designated arts institutions.
InnovationRCA start-up ZELP
What can institutions like the RCA bring to the table in shaping creativity in businesses?
ND: At the RCA, we understand creativity. It’s in our blood. We also understand business. InnovationRCA provides a physical as well as intellectual hub in which founders target their creativity to solve the right challenges, then evolve their business skills and models to bring those solutions to a global market.
PD: Creativity can be taught, as I said, but it needs to be engaged with in educational institutions which are porous and connected to the wider world as engines of innovation, or in the places where creativity takes place (whether artist or AI studios).
Who else will be contributing to the course?
PD: We’ve worked with some amazing and successful creative business leaders who have enthusiastically agreed to be in conversation with me and the participants on the course. The impressive list of globally successful leaders range from the Principal of Zaha Hadid Architects who was there near the beginning, to the founder of Sutton PR, the largest arts PR in Europe. Participants will also be visiting creative businesses in their ‘homes’, from the studio of the great artist Antony Gormley to Sotheby’s, a global business if there were ever one.
“We’ve worked with some amazing and successful creative business leaders who have enthusiastically agreed to be in conversation with me and the participants on the course.”Director, Made in China (UK) Ltd
ND: InnovationRCA has the privilege of being at the centre of some of the most innovative businesses today. Participants on the course will benefit from the lessons learned by founders of successful start-ups, alongside expertise from RCA staff.
Creative Leadership Masterclass in September 2022
Where will your new short course take place?
ND: The three-day masterclass will run from 9–11 October 2023, in person, across multiple venues in London, including a site visit to Tate, InnovationRCA headquarters at the RCA’s Battersea campus and more.
PD: The “where” and “when” is important! Autumn in London offers a ‘corridor’ of creative events - from the London Film Festival to the London Design Festival, from London Fashion Week to Frieze Art Fair. During this period, at its best, the city itself seems alive with creative ambition, and is the ideal teaching place.