The Creative Industries Observatory (CIO),is an academic institution formed in December 2006 within the wider Creative Industries project of which Creative Connexions (formerly known as Creative Capital World Cities) is also part of the University of the Arts London.
Its main aim is to combine the tasks of collating information on the creative industries landscape, with providing up-to-date, readily available information that can be used by academics, policy makers and businesses alike. The CIO analyses the creative industries of 5 other cities - Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai and New Delhi - potential growth sites for London-based businesses, as well as potential collaborative partners. The CIO's main output is statistical data and qualitative information on the creative industry sectors (businesses and mediators) that maintained by the subsectors of the creative industries through a mutually collaborative and relational network of correspondence. This ensures a constant flow of information which maps and critically analyses the continual trends within the creative economies of these 6 major world cities, which is designed to facilitate business growth and knowledge transfer.
Therefore, the aims of the CIO can be broken down into 4 main objectives;
1) Strategic creative industries information service: the development of a unique resource which draws together existing information, undertakes original research and commissions information from acknowledged experts/organisations on markets, infrastructure and organisations;
2) A Business Inquiry Service: the provision of information to business in response to individual inquiries which compliments other services;
3) Reporting on the latest developments and projects: through the Creative Connexions external portal (virtual newspaper) where information is available on related projects or services/activities which exist elsewhere in their own right;
4) Facilitating the exchange of ideas: a source of opportunities for partners and colleagues to come together either face-to-face or virtually to share ideas.
The process of recruiting the appropriate staff began in October 2006, with a core team of researchers established in order to generate a research agenda. The embryonic stages of this research agenda included a vigorous search of the available secondary sources on the creative industries in London and in the other identified cities. The search included those reports publicly available on the internet and by hard copy, those reports by government departments (most notably the DCMS and the Greater London Authority), as well as those reports by privately-owned consultancy or research companies which charge a fee. A database was assembled of these secondary sources reports, which is being constantly updated as new reports become available. Throughout this search, the ‘gaps’ (which the initial Creative Connexions specifications suggested needed to be uncovered) have become evident and therefore the usefulness and functionality of the baseline data which will be gathered by the CIO, becomes more apparent.
The overarching research process is in place with a structured data-gathering process, outlined into 5 phases;
Phase 1: Collecting of creative business database in London This will include collecting names and contact details of all the creative industry companies in London from a number of official sources (including the Yellow Pages, Thomson Directory, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) and cross-referencing them to establish a comprehensive list. This allows the capture of micro businesses as well as small, medium and large organisations, both public and private.
Phase 2: Sampling of business This process will include selecting the businesses to survey through a structured sampling method based on geographical location, DCMS sub-sector and other criteria.
Phase 3: Dispersal of questionnaire This phase will include the dissemination of the questionnaire to the selected businesses via email, web form, phone or by post.
Phase 4: Inputting of data This will be conducted mainly by the part-time student staff and will require the most people-power, using SPSS software and the virtual repository.
Phase 5: Continuation of collection and correspondence identification The final part of the data-gathering process will conclude with the identification of a network of correspondence who will continue to aid in the inputting of data to the repository.
Working parallel with this initial data gathering part is an attempt at a definitional framework and classificatory system which relates to pre-existing SIC/SOC codes, as well as DCMS sub-sector definitions. This work is currently still in development and will work in conjunction with the data received from the survey.
The CIO has been accredited in the DCMS' most recent strategy document regarding the creative industries. Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy, launched in February 2008, outlines the UK government's policies for the creative industries for the next decade. In the document, the DCMS says it "will support this ongoing work which is intended to make significant progress on international comparisons".