Creative Industries

Hard craft

From music and software to advertising and marketing, the UK’s most creative minds have become a source of global influence to be reckoned with.

The UK’s creative industries, which span film and television through to graphic design and architecture, are an engine for growth, contributing £71 billion to the economy each year. A further boost is on the way in 2015 and beyond, thanks to a multi-million-pound pledge by industry and the Government to offer cutting-edge training in disciplines such as games design, animation and visual effects.

Sector at a glance

  • £8 million – The hourly value generated in the UK by the creative industries
  • 100,000 students graduate annually in the UK in creative subjects
  • £31 billion – The Government plans to double the value of the industry’s exports to this figure by 2020


Supporting our unsung heroes

Commentary by Simon Walker, Director General, Institute of Directors

Nobody should doubt the importance of small and medium-sized companies. Indeed, the stats are impressive. More than five million businesses employ 15 million people, and account for just under half of the UK private sector’s turnover.

But what does this really tell us? We know that SMEs work hard, create jobs and generate considerable revenue. However, those numbers don’t tell us very much about the type of work they do or how they go about it.

The sector is vast, and the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report features a fraction of the country’s most dynamic and inspiring businesses. This is the cohort of high-growth companies that are leading the charge into the modern economy, changing the terms of business, questioning the status quo, chasing opportunities to grow, challenging incumbents and disrupting old models. 

“The vast majority of businesses are run by good people trying to do the right thing”

Technology underpins most of the forces driving these changes. Some might think that this prices out SMEs. But technology alone is meaningless unless it’s coupled with a vision and a belief in a new way of doing things. And it is Britain’s smaller companies that are in the best position to take advantage of this new era. They can innovate faster, often with far more intuition and urgency than their larger competitors.

Many small businesses are collaborative and innovative by necessity, reaping the benefits of opening themselves up to new opportunities. Most are companies you’ve never heard of, quietly making their way in the world.

At a time when business still faces a reputational crisis, it’s vital to remember that the vast majority of businesses are run by good people trying to do the right thing. They don’t make the headlines. They won’t always win awards. They are the unsung heroes of our economy, quietly getting on with running successful businesses up and down the country.

Some people have a tendency to think of small companies as parochial or insular. This is a profound mistake. I know from my own travels around the country, meeting Institute of Directors (IoD) members in every region of the UK, that small and medium-sized businesses in all industries can be at the forefront of some of the most exciting technological and cultural changes, driving the innovation, disruption and creativity that is hauling our economy into the 21st century. The IoD will be with them every step of the way, and I’m delighted to be supporting this celebration of Britain’s most incredible businesses.

“Some people have a tendency to think of small companies as parochial or insular. This is a profound mistake”


The hardware and software company aims to make music 'easier to make'.
The Foundry's software helps artists and designers create high-end visuals for media production.
With its focus on innovative, creative and effective social media marketing, the agency has capitalised on rapidly growing demand.
The architecture firm AHMM has cemented its reputation for producing aesthetically desirable yet functional buildings.