Newcastle University Business School

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Creative Connections Sparked at Newcastle University Business School

A group of North East entrepreneurs put their business challenges into the hands of postgraduate students as part of an intensive business innovation development workshop hosted by Newcastle University Business School

The Creative Connections Createathon was a two-day event (22nd and 26th January), designed to help small creative enterprises reflect on their businesses and plan their next steps.

Delivered as part of the £3m Creative Fuse North East project, the Createathon offered a fully-funded opportunity for sole traders, micro-businesses and SMEs in the creative and cultural sectors to access innovation tools developed specifically for creative enterprises. Business leads were invited to discuss their challenges, aspirations and opportunities with their student teams, who developed and presented a business Action Plan on the second day of the event.

“The Createathon hands students quite a lot of power, putting them into the position of having to make quite serious diagnostics for a business,” said Mo O’Toole, one of the organisers of the Creative Connections programme. “Putting students in this position creates a trusting environment from which solutions flow. For the participating businesses, this space is a catalyst for innovative, creative thinking to grow – with a mixture of different generational and cultural perspectives which inspire new ways of thinking about their business.” 

Participating businesses included a branding agency, a composer, a chocolate manufacturer, a publisher of arts prints, a community interest company, and a freelance voice-over artist and content writer.

The student teams competed with each other to secure a £200 cash prize for the best Action Plan and presentation. The winning team were working with blogger and voice-over artist, Rachel Kershaw.

“The timing of this opportunity was perfect,” said Rachel, “I’m building up my own business and it’s really early days. I’m really looking forward to starting on the Action plan, as it’s given me clarity on what to focus on first. It’s a great springboard for going off on my own. The students have this excitement, this enthusiasm to go above and beyond – and their enthusiasm rubs off on you!”

The Createathon is just one form of support on offer through Creative Fuse North East, the collaborative action-research project coordinated by all five North East universities. The project, funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and Arts Council England, delivers a range of activity across the region – including student placements, sector specific innovation development programmes, and experimental “Innovation Pilot” projects which encourage cross-sector collaboration. The Creative Connections strand is funded by the ERDF and will return in March, with a B2B Connect & Innovate workshop. The next student Createathon will be held in April. Interested businesses can sign up to the Creative Fuse Opportunities Database to be informed when applications open for the next event [] 

published on: 31 January 2018