5 years ago I wrote a speculative strategy for the Department for International Trade. Focused on what the UK “offer” was to global inward investment in the Creative Industries, it identified a USP at the point where “creativity meets technology”.

With the rapid adoption of digital technologies generating fundamental changes in the production, distribution and consumption phases of nearly all industries (especially true where new technologies allow a direct communication with a customer) it was my contention that the UK has a competitive advantage due to its unique ability to combine four elements: creative excellence / established tech sector / innovation ecosystem / addressable scale market.

My hypothesis was that many markets were able to demonstrate 3 of the 4 circles of the Venn diagram but very few places could validate the presence of all four (NB: Innovation should probably read Innovation Support – a key distinction in the availability of strategic public investment in R&D).

Over time the strategy was adopted but the focus was shortened to “Createch”. Whilst I’m still not a fan of the term, its adoption by DCMS, Tech Nation, Creative Industries Council and others makes it unavoidable.

So, fast-forward to 2021 and I’ve been delighted to be a judge on the Createch 100 Ones to Watch ( And this week I’ve chaired a panel as part of London Tech Week exploring “export” with three of the Ones to Watch companies.

For me what’s most interesting is the impact of Covid, and how the traditional definition of Export has been replaced by a hybrid position – international reach being far more a digital than physical function (but with the adaptations of language and presentation and trust required by that shift).

My conversation with Dragonfly AI, Lost Horizon and Swamp Motel covers this territory from their own personal experiences – with agile business adaptation in a pandemic thrown in. The recording is here, an insightful conversation:

A final thought. I was quietly delighted that 20% of the Createch 100 were from Bristol / SW, reflecting the organisations and frameworks in the city which act as catalysts for that crossover (and I’ve put forward a proposal to explore as part of Bristol Technology Festival next month). The MyWorld initiative speaks directly to this strength.

The image is from the recent Charlotte Perriand exhibition at the Design Museum, a modular shelving system radical in its simplicity and use of (then) unconventional materials.

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