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Mapping the intersection of technology and creativity

Part 2 The future of UK CreaTech



Commissioned by the Creative Industries Council (CIC)

The Creative Industries Council is a joint forum between the UK creative industries and government. Set up to be a voice for the Creative Industries, the Council focus on areas where there are opportunities for, and barriers to, growth for the sector, such as access to finance, skills, export markets, regulation, intellectual property (IP) and infrastructure. Council members are leading figureheads drawn from across the creative and digital industries including computer games, design, fashion, music, arts, advertising, publishing, film and television. The council is co-chaired by The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Tim Davie CBE, Director General, BBC.

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In association with Digital Catapult and Moore Kingston Smith

Digital Catapult

Digital Catapult is the leading authority on advanced digital technologies and the only innovation organisation with a specific remit for the creative industries on behalf of UK government.  Digital Catapult has been a key partner of CreaTech since its inception. 

Digital Catapult’s internationally recognised programmes and facilities are helping creative organisations to develop, adopt and embed advanced digital technologies that drive innovation, productivity and competition. It’s not just immersive tech that’s making a difference: applications for IoT5Gdistributed ledgersAI and machine learning are just as prevalent in the creative industries as they are in manufacturing, helping to drive the emergence of tech in the sector and open up new markets and business opportunities. 

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Moore Kingston Smith

Moore Kingston Smith is committed to helping put CreaTech on the map as a unified sector, recognized internationally for its innovation, collaboration and creativity.

As the only firm of accountants and advisers with a dedicated office of over 100 media specialists, we proactively support independent media businesses throughout their life cycle. From a corporate finance perspective, this involves preparing CreaTech businesses for, and advising on, funding rounds and ultimately sales processes.

In an industry that powers on innovation, there is considerable opportunity for CreaTech companies to leverage R&D tax credits. In addition to our accountancy and tax compliance services, our team helps clients make the most of this scheme.

As commercial partner of, the official website of the Creative Industries Council (CIC), and an associate partner of the CIC CreaTech programme, we are fully integrated in the drive to help the CreaTech sector thrive on both the national and international stage. Consistent with CIC’s commitment to providing a unifying platform for the sector to demonstrate its extensive investment potential, our purpose is to bolster CreaTech businesses through access to our strategic advice that supports them maximise their growth.  

As a member of Moore Global - a network of accountancy and advisory firms in over 100 countries – Moore Kingston Smith is also excellently placed to provide support to global CreaTech businesses, or those looking to expand internationally.

Find out more at or contact Rob Husband, Partner, Moore Kingston Smith,


Executive summary

CreaTech is the intersection of technology and creativity. Companies pioneering this critical combination are leveraging UK historic strengths in tech and the creative industries respectively, and gaining significant traction.

In Part 1 of this report, evidence as to the significant investment footprint of CreaTech was presented. Just under one billion pounds of venture capital (VC) investment was raised by UK CreaTech companies last year, representing around 9% of total VC funding plugged into tech in the country, and investment is on the up - doubling over the last four years, from just under £500mn in 2017, to over £980mn in 2020.

Looking at the labour market footprint of CreaTech, up to 4.29mn jobs (DCMS, 2020; Tech Nation, 2021) in the UK economy either involve an inherent combination of creative and technical skills, or else are likely to be impacted by a company level, or industry level combination of creative and tech functions.

Not only is CreaTech an economic powerhouse, with strong international prospects, it also represents a movement in the UK economy to deliver positive social, cultural and environmental impact, as well as economic returns.


CreaTech is a blend of technology and creativity

Sol Rogers


Think about any of these new technologies, augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality headsets, behind all of them is a very complex technology delivery medium; for an audience to be able to see something we create.

Design, user experience UI, storytelling, actors, actresses, music, lighting, all of so many different mediums and artistic, creative ways of doing things need to come to bear, to make the technology useful.

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Known as impact tech, companies delivering beyond economic returns are on the rise in the UK and Europe, as evidenced in the Tech Nation Report 2021. VC investment into UK companies delivering public good has increased by 160% since 2018 - a record in Europe. Many CreaTech companies have the potential to enable a shift to more green solutions by disaggregating the relationship between space and content creation, this may be facilitated through immersive, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) solutions, to name a few.

Figure 1 Global Impact tech investment (2015-2020)

Take the screen industries, for example, where visual effects tools developed in the games industry and applied new and innovative ways have not only put the UK front and centre in the world for next generation content creation, but also reduce the carbon footprint of the screen sector. By reducing reliance on 'on-location' filming, involving physically moving people and equipment, companies like REWIND, Double Negative, Milk VFX, and Flipbook Studio, are helping UK screen industries both tread more lightly from an environmental perspective, and punch far above their weight on a global stage.


CreaTech is a dynamic, transformative force

Nigel Jones

Department for International Trade

So I take a more horizontal view of these things as creativity and technology can be applied in lots of different ways. Games is probably one of the best examples of that and you're in a similar space when you consider VFX and animation. There's a whole host of these areas that inherently combine creativity and technology and therein lies opportunity.

I think the media space is fascinating in terms of how technology has taken the medium into new and different fields, even more so if we look over the past year or so, given the impact of the pandemic. The media sector has done incredibly well in the sense that more people than ever are consuming it.

These firms are just the tip of the iceberg; UK CreaTech is pervasive, creating tens of thousands of new jobs and sculpting the labour market of the future. The research is exploratory, using traditional data sources can makes it difficult to describe new and emerging phenomena, hence why we focus here on finding innovative ways to find an evidence base for the changes that are occurring. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to get a comprehensive picture no matter what data is used, so the findings here should be seen as indicative not absolute. This is a start, and we think it’s helpful to inform the wider policy debate.

In absolute terms, the number of advertised CreaTech jobs have increased over the last three years by 16% - compared to the UK labour market as a whole, where we have seen employment increase by 3.3% over the same period. Additionally, the weight of advertised CreaTech roles as a proportion of all advertised creative/ design roles is steadily increasing, from 33% of roles in 2017 to 36% in 2019.

The UK has all the ingredients to accelerate the growth of CreaTech even further.

If international VC investment for this area of the economy were the same as UK tech as a whole, we would expect to see a boost of over one billion pounds to investment. The scale of the opportunity is global. Expert stakeholders interviewed for this report suggested that deep, facilitated collaboration between creative and tech firms, CreaTech and corporate entities, and international institutions and UK CreaTech companies, could have a transformative impact on the space, as we build back from the disruption of Covid-19.


No CreaTech without creativity

Suli Breaks

Poet and Entrepreneur

I see CreaTech as a combination of creativity and technology. Creativity is usually at the heart of building any type of business or pushing forward an idea, whilst using technology as an enabler.

Generally, CreaTech has a major focus on the technical aspect, rather than the creative element, with a lot of emphasis on the immersive space, AR or VR technology. These technologies have changed the way society can interact with spaces and brings an added layer to the way we consume content, but we must not forget to tell the story of the creative skills that are also used.

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The future of the UK economy will be built on technology, and creativity - as a hotspot of economic growth in its own right, and an enabling force for broad based, positive transformation. CreaTech represents a pivotal movement for the UK, its propagation and development in the next decade will help lay the foundations for a prosperous, culturally rich, and environmentally conscious century.


Jobs and skills

As well as a hotspot of economic activity in its own right, CreaTech represents a pervasive and transformative combination of skills, functions and industries that is set to further enable activity across the UK economy.

In this section we focus on creative/ design roles, using the most comprehensive broad-based definition we can find. Of course, there are hundreds of specialist new job titles which we know exist but as yet they are not easy to quantify, and likely underrepresented in job advertisement data.

These roles we focus on do not represent everyone who works in CreaTech businesses. There are many more generalist roles which need people with an appreciation of CreaTech to run the business, develop new business, and create the content ideas which will subsequently require the interface between creativity and tech to come to life, even if these people themselves are not the technical experts to do this.

We analysed over 14 million UK job advertisement data from Adzuna to understand the UK labour market, and where CreaTech roles - inherently combining creative and tech skills, are being demanded by employers. We found that, on average, creative/design jobs made up 0.8% of all advertised roles in the past few years.

The year on year trend for advertised Creative/Design roles and the proportion for CreaTech roles represent for the years 2015 - 2019 is shown below in figure 6.

In absolute terms, the number of advertised CreaTech jobs have increased over the last three years by 16% - compared to the UK labour market as a whole, where we have seen employment increase by 3.3% over the same period. Additionally, the weight of advertised CreaTech roles as a proportion of all creative/ design roles is steadily increasing, in 2019, CreaTech- related jobs accounted for 56% of all advertised creative/ design roles, up from 49% in 2017.

Figure 6 CreaTech job advertisements as a proportion of all creative/ design roles (2017-2019)

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2019)

The number of advertised creative/design roles (just under 125,000 in 2019) was taken as a category, and the roles where employers demanded a cross section of creative/design and technical skills were analysed.

Figure 7 CreaTech job advertisements (2017-2019)

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2019)

Prevalent within CreaTech job advertisements are design roles. We observed that a ‘Designer role’ is an umbrella for multiple roles and has a huge element of technical skills involved and sought by employers, this shows CreaTech roles are well embedded into teams across multiple sectors. 


CreaTech skills, STEM and diversity

Jessica Driscoll

Digital Catapult

[What are the obstacles to the future growth of CreaTech?]

STEM education is really really important and that's a big barrier to begin with, especially when considering diversity. There are still very few women in the tech industry especially in highly technical roles and many of those are in the CreaTech environment but perhaps not as engineers or developers.

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‘Designer’ related roles accounted for 20% of all creative/design roles advertised. The number of advertised creative/design jobs with a demand for technical skills are shown in the chart below.

Figure 8 Top 10 creative/ design roles requiring a mix of creative and technical skills in 2019

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2019)

Table 1 Top ten creative/design roles requiring technical skills

RolesNo. advertised rolesProportion of advertised roles
Graphic Designer49343.97%
User Interface Designer24461.97%
Design Manager24181.95%
Interior Designer22971.85%
Product Designer21681.74%
Design Engineer14301.15%
Digital Designer13841.11%

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2019)

Top growing CreaTech roles over the past three years

Over the past three years, there has been considerable growth in employer demand for a range of CreaTech roles.

In Figure 9, we see examples of this in roles such as a Product Designer, Digital Designer, Web Designer and Architect. A further breakdown of the growth rate % between 2017 - 2019 of the roles featured in Figure 9 is shown in Table 2.

Figure 9 Number of CreaTech roles advertised (2017-2019)

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2019)

Digital Designer and Product Designer are two roles that have stood out and seen an incredible growth rate, 178% and 153% respectively from 2017 - 2019. 

A Digital Designer is described as one who creates digital assets, which can include mobile, animation, video games and social media. Key skills include HTML, CSS as well as Dreamweaver and Photoshop. A product designers’ key skills include User Research, Information Architecture, and Typography. As there has been a targeted focus on digital skills by the UK government over the past few years, we see this reflected in the hiring needs of employers.

Table 2 Top CreaTech roles with high growth rates in employer demand

Role201720182019Growth rate 2017 - 2019 %
Graphic Designer4695362449345%
User Interface Designer20921876244617%
Design Manager14881926241863%
Product Designer85712012168153%
Digital Designer49810551384178%
Web Designer41119666863%
Creative Designer675595636-6%
3D Modeller37447953142%
Integrated Designer1661471787%

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2019)

Median salaries for growing roles

The CreaTech roles: Product Designer and Web Designer have had the highest growth rate in median salary offerings, from 2017 - 2019, at 83% and 168% respectively over the two year period.

The median CreaTech salary is £35,054 which is 11% higher than the UK median of £31,461.

Table 3 Median salaries for Top CreaTech roles with high growth rates in employer demand

Graphic Designer£27,000
User Interface Designer£53,350
Design Manager£57,500
Product Designer£55,000
Digital Designer£35,000
Web Designer£81,600
Creative Designer£30,000
3D Modeller£33,500
Integrated Designer£37,000
Median CreaTech salary£35,054

(Source: Adzuna, 2019)

UK nations and regions

CreaTech roles are being advertised across the UK, and made up a significant proportion of creative/ design roles in 2019.

Table 4 Number of and proportion of CreaTech roles advertised in UK nations and regions

RegionNo. all advertised creative/design roles rolesNo. advertised creaTech roles% creaTech roles
Greater London476943577175%
Northern Ireland52923845%
South East England13101864766%
East of England7793491063%
North West England7539475063%
South West England6335361157%
East Midlands5228271952%
West Midlands6391345154%
Yorkshire and the Humber4849286159%
North East England169981648%

(Source: Adzuna, 2019; Note: Location data available for ~85% of advertised roles)

Top technical skills demanded by employers

Both User Experience and User Interface are growing roles, as seen in Table 3. According to data from IT Jobs watch, we're also seeing the growth in digital skills and as such, the design element of products and services are increasingly important to enhance the user experience. 

Table 5, below shows the top 10 co-occurring IT skills by category for the 6 months up to May 2021 for UX Design roles.

Table 5 Top ten technical skills by category in demand with creative/design roles, source

Co-occurring IT skills by category
Application Platforms (see below)
Business Applications
Cloud Services
Communications & Networking
Database & Business Intelligence
Development Applications
Libraries, Frameworks & Software Standards
Operating Systems

(Source: IT Jobs watch, 2021)

(Notes: Examples of Application platforms are Confluence, Drupal, and applications include Sketch, Invision, Figma.)

The top skills sought from employers for roles requiring both creative and technical skills are:

  • Adobe
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • WordPress
  • Spring Framework
  • MongoDB

Although, these are observed roles and skills within the creative/design industry - we know, there is likely to be many roles growing and emerging as a result of the combined effort of creative and tech innovation. 

Augmented (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are enhancing UK CreaTech

AR and VR can be used across industries which include public attractions/events, gaming, and corporate training, in turn creating that immersive experience, whilst saving time and costs. 

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in the recreational use of VR, to help with physical and mental wellbeing. 

Worldwide spending on AR and VR is forecast to reach US$160 billion (about £130 billion) in 2023, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). This is a significant increase from the US$16.8 billion (about £13.7 billion) forecast for the year 2019.

Data from Statista shows a projection of over 400,000 jobs will be enhanced by VR/AR in the UK by 2030. This is an increase from the year 2019, where 10-15 thousand jobs were enhanced by VR/AR in the UK.

There are 370 advertised jobs for Virtual reality in the UK as of Spring 2021, according to Adzuna's job search engine. These consist of roles such as Software developers, business development consultants, Front end developers and immersive games hosts.

Furthermore, universities are offering degrees in immersive technologies: 

Case study

CreaTech in West London

Bill Boler

West London Business

I work for West London Business, we’re a business organisation promoting the economic growth of West London. My role is Partnership Director for Creative Enterprise West, the Creative Enterprise Zone in West London set up to support the creative industries.

In promoting West London as a screen capital, we have a unique challenge. Whereas West London historically for years has been known as a film cluster that has grown organically from the BBC when it was headquartered in Hammersmith, to Pinewood filming Star Wars, and realising that this industry has grown organically since with everything from talent to studios and all supply chain companies, but it hasn't collaborated as it were, it works in silos. 

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Future growth

Eighteen interviews with CreaTech stakeholders, to explore the challenges and opportunities for UK CreaTech were conducted as part of this report. The following sections on Education, Collaboration and knowledge sharing, and Access to finance, contextualise and present stakeholder perceptions on the future of CreaTech.

Interviewees were overwhelmingly positive about CreaTech as a movement to unite disciplines across the economy combining creativity and technology. Many felt, as a term, CreaTech helped give a shared voice to disparate programmes and verticals, encourage cross-fertilisation, and make the industry more digestible to outside audiences.

Education and skills

Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM)

Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education was highlighted by stakeholders as pivotal for the CreaTech talent pipeline.

Education Technology defines STEAM Education as “an approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.”

Whilst there are examples of existing jobs such as Architects, Graphic Designers, and Animators that show the intersection and application of STEAM skills, many argue that students will enter the labour market to work in jobs that do not exist yet. So, the type of skill students are acquiring from their early years, as well as being exposed to multiple career paths is extremely important. 

We’ve seen the growth in tech roles and it now accounts for 9% of the UK workforce. Whilst the focus on STEM education is important, in order to respond to the growing digital skills gap, creativity should not be ignored. 


STEAM and education

Dinah Caine CBE

Goldsmiths, University of London

There is a huge emphasis on STEM and we need access to support schools, and the education system more broadly, to come together on Creative Tech, STEAM.

The narrative tends to be around higher wages and what STEM can offer, whereas the Arts are generally communicated as a non strategic role.

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Talent attraction and retention

Stakeholders mentioned the impact of the UK's exit from the EU in talent attraction and retention. It was suggested that alternative routes to recruiting CreaTech talent from Europe would need to be considered for future supply - both longer term migration of talented people to the UK, but also short term access for events, and short term projects.

Opportunities articulated by stakeholders included:

  • Communicate a positive message around CreaTech roles, and make the evidence available to schools, colleges and universities to enable effective career guidance on CreaTech jobs.
  • Promote the UK as a hub for ideas generation and innovation.
  • Develop role models for CreaTech.
  • Make use of existing local messaging e.g. Camden STEAM Council, who are working to encourage the integration of Arts with STEM for young people in the borough.

Collaboration and knowledge sharing

CreaTech sits at the interface between creativity and tech. Collaboration is therefore critical in propagating CreaTech, both as an area of economic activity in its own right, and as an enabling force across the economy.

A number of interventions have aimed to seed collaborative activity between creative and tech firms, often with a mechanism for measuring impact, as is the case with UKRI's Audience of the Future Challenge. The challenge has invested in a range of projects, from e-sports and gaming to performance, and moving image to visitor experience.

In further developing collaborative activity in CreaTech, an international focus was mentioned by some stakeholders:

'it's about practically organising ourselves, it's about linking up areas of expertise that are dotted around the country. It's about encouraging more collaboration in order to make the UK collectively more globally competitive.'


CreaTech collaborations

Dr. Jeremy Silver, CEO

Digital Catapult

When it comes to collaboration, a good example is Dimension, a volumetric capture studio that we set up with Digital Catapult and Microsoft collaborating with a Gateshead based SME called Hammerhead. Together, we created the first studio in Europe (and only the third in the world - before they did it in LA!) that was capable of doing 4D video, lifelike volumetric capture for use in virtual reality and augmented reality content.

That combination of the film and TV and games production expertise that Hammerhead brought as a small company, alongside the big tech that Microsoft brought in, with its ability to capture people in 360 degrees with video-like quality has been a brilliant collaboration.

What's been really interesting about it too, is that it's developed in the last year or so from working on the more forward-looking formats of VR and AR which have still yet to become really mainstream, to informing a way of producing film and television for broadcast media and film today. Combined with game engine software this has widely entered the vocabulary as virtual production. And that's become a hugely significant development for the industry as well as being a big component of what will come in future VR and AR formats.  A really interesting collaboration ... it's not just about savings and efficiency or better tools for design. It's also about enabling a creative vision that would otherwise be impossible, enabling camera angles that are physically impossible to be created and so on.

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Access to finance

There is an opportunity to broaden the pool of available finance to CreaTech companies by raising awareness of firms looking to raise, and working with both scaling CreaTech businesses and investors to bridge a perceived information gap.


Bridging the knowledge gaps

Julian Douglas

International Chair VCCP and IPA President

I think there's still a lack of understanding of emerging technology at some senior decision-making levels. I think a lot of big brands got their fingers burnt trying things out that they didn't really understand, but tried it because they didn't want to miss the boat. So the results didn't match expectations and they backed off for a while. The risk is businesses can be in danger of being left behind as the adoption of technology accelerates through the pandemic and lockdown. I guess it's like a classic kind of hype curve. It [CreaTech] still feels quite early in the cycle, but it feels like it's now moving into the mainstream.

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One interviewee suggested that bridging work could be done with both early stage investors and CreaTech companies to establish a shared sense of the economic opportunity, and boost investment into CreaTech firms:

'My perception is, the angel investor community is less aware of how to invest in creative content or creative technology companies. I think, is still a place where we've got more to do. And that's an educational process for both sides of education process for the for investors to see how to invest and what, and what, what to look for in good investments, and it's an education process needed for the companies to become more investor ready so I think that's, that's a big piece of it.'

Another interviewee supports the perception that access to finance may be an issue for CreaTech companies from a knowledge sharing standpoint, rather than limited pools of capital in the market:

'I hear often from businesses that I talked to, they feel like access to capital is, is tough. I don't know that it should be, it doesn't feel like it is when I look at the CreaTech report. Oh, that would be the last thing I would conclude I would say, hey, plenty of people are accessing huge amounts of capital and this thing's massive, but when I talk to companies and they say yeah we're finding quite difficult, aren't that many of avenues of Finance to us, you know, outside of that, you know, once you get outside of the mainstream banking system which tends to close a lot of these creative companies out for a lot of reasons.'

As well as access to venture capital, and early stage private equity finance, stakeholders mentioned the need for continuing effective government interventions, such as R&D Tax Credits, which facilitate investment into CreaTech. When asked about opportunities for CreaTech growth, one stakeholder mentioned Innovate UK backing, and Creative Tax Credits as two key mechanisms:

'...Innovate [UK] backing. Make sure the tax incentives work, so there is great work through the creative tax credit. So, video games, broadening the scope of video CTR system to allow it to encompass some of the other things that are happening... obviously the R&D system is pretty good...'



Jobs and skills

Over 14m job advertisement data was used to analyse the number of advertised  creative/design jobs amongst all advertised roles. The number of advertised roles identified as a creative or design role (just under 125,000) was taken as a category. These types of roles were not explicitly roles with ‘design’ or ‘creative’ within the advertised title to create the category - but rather the type of role which can be defined as a creative or design role, which includes but is not limited to artists, architects, fashion stylist, designer.

The roles where employers demanded a cross section of creative and technical skills (listed in the skills sought in the advertised role) were analysed - these types of roles were identified as CreaTech roles.

In these identified CreaTech roles, ‘Designer’ roles were more prevalent. 


Pitchbook data was collected to forecast CreaTech Venture Capital Investment. Pitchbook is a data and financial software company. They collect data using over 650,000 web crawlers capturing relevant information from news articles, regulatory findings, press releases, websites and other sources. They use natural language processing to filter out all irrelevant data while having a Quality Assurance team manually review the data and a research team which validates the data with the source. Data was collected on a monthly basis from 2018 to 2020.