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Creative Beacons Network Meeting – 21 January 2009

Farraday Wharf, Advantage West Midlands

Attendees

Andy Lovatt, The White Room


Phil Birchenall, The White Room
Bernie Emery, The White Room
Emily Lyons, The White Room
Lara Ratnaraja, Business Link WM (Chair)
Chris Garcia, South West RDA
David Furmage, Advantage West Midlands
Rebecca Binns, South West RDA
Jessica Vallentine, BL SW
Stuart McFarlane, Yorkshire Forward
Iain Bennett, NWDA
Sue Warburton, Business Link North West
Frances Hinton, EEDA
Adrian Brazier, BERR
Anna Smart, SEEDA
Alistair Findlay, DCMS

Apologies

Mark Adamson – One North East


Andy Brown – Business Link North East
Heidi Brailsford – Business Link East Midlands
Richard Lukey – Business Link Yorkshire
Alan Searle – SEEDA
Max Adam – Business Link Kent
Rob Ball – EMD

Research Update: Progress & Challenges

Data gathering has become more of a challenge lately which is


hampering progress. TWR need more data from most people if the
work is to be completed on time.

So far all scoping studies have been completed including latecomers


East of England. TWR will be returning to East of England and the
South East for more in depth analysis.

More guidance is needed from the South East as they have 6


Business Links so a more complicated set up. However, the
contract will be changing in April. They do not have a definition of
the CI sector so mapping is pointless at the moment.

East Midlands do not have best practice at the moment and CI is


dissolved as a sector. They don’t want to have the detailed research
done but do want to be part of dissemination. There is however a
very good CI network, but not going to spend a huge resource there.

The Customer Survey was sent out to all the Business Links and
they are sending it to their client base. This is to validate TWR
conclusions about what is good about the BL service. So far we
have received a good feedback to date, this helps TWR gather best
practice.

Gathering the quantitative data has been like “pulling teeth”. To


date, the South West is the only region to give full management
information. This has been a challenge. TWR should have done the
full interactive mapping but this has not been done yet due to the
hold up with gathering this information.

Case Studies – also had partial response.

What is the lack of response due to?


Issue of confidentiality, internal battles, changes of command
problems.
“Clients surveyed to death”
Current economic climate doesn’t help.

TWR were hoping to get all quantitative data in December but it


hasn’t happened. Wanted to build a quantitative profile to look at
level of impact of services. The longer the things go on the harder
that will be to deliver because of lack of info coming forward and
regions are using different definitions. Everybody is using a
different definition. Not the DCMS definition.

TWR can use that data regionally but it won’t be comparable data
across regions.

TWR wanted to align the evaluation framework with BERR logic


models.
AL asked the group if it was a good use of TWR time and resources
to take partial and inconsistent data about CI to build an evaluation
to then feedback to back fit into BERR? Or was it better to
concentrate efforts to do a qualitative analysis in the regions and
wait for BSSP evaluation framework to be completed which BLs are
going to be deploying anyway?

IB responded “Yes and” to utilising quantitative data.


Data is comparable to other data in the region and there is a worry
of returning to fragmentation if some quantitative analysis isn’t
carried out.

AL said data was similar but different ie. some have better GVA
figures than others. Any evaluation framework has to involve GVA.
Looking for a method to bring qualitative and quantitative data
together but has to align with BERR’s logic model.

This is a task and finish group that has to be finished by April but
not sure if BSSP model will be finished then.

Who is going to taking it forward? MI people at BLs.


Who is interested? RDAs.

CG said the point of quantitative data is it will help to evaluate good


and best practice so we want a methodological framework and a
development path that says how we make judgements eg. Is it
Yorkshire we talk to or East of England so some of that framework
will relate to quantitative data within a region, some of it maybe
quasi – quantitative and qualitative and although it doesn’t join up
we can take a view, or get a feel – need a framework methodology
that isn’t science but more judgemental.

We can draw conclusions that can be presented to Management


teams. When development processes continue we have got
something we can signpost to, need a basis we can all see and live
with.
If there is something that is quantitative that is backing that
statement. We make a judgement eg. Region X excellent marketing
campaign with the quantitative data that backs it up with returns of
a marketing campaign.

IB said this is a roadmap, this is how the management teams


continue to focus and how these intermediate outcomes will be
reflected in the framework when it is available.

CG used the Investors in People example – they have a


methodological framework which is entirely qualitative. Aggregate
qualitative data to give it statistical significance.
Accepted that no right or wrong answers but that it was a journey.

Therefore it should be a Continuous Improvement model to provide


planning tools for BLs going forward.

Customer Survey – responses been really good and constructive


In SW the survey went out with newsletter – 20,000 companies, 10%
CIs. – 5000 CIs.

Case Studies – TWR will be going into companies and filming,


looking at how BL intervention impacted on their businesses.
3-4 per region. Case studies need to cover software sector/ games
companies etc.

ACTION: Give BLs a deadline for getting information to TWR.

TWR will do a task list for each region with deadlines.

Infrastructure Mapping

TWR has done some mapping with data collected. Google earth –
showing rich data and regional infrastructure. This is something the
network can take ownership of, update and take forward. TWR
would like to do something similar with ONS so the network can see
all the businesses you are dealing with – marketing, intervention
tools. This information won’t be “public access”.

Implications of lack of quantitative data: delayed dynamic mapping


and regional reports. No quantitative data in evaluation

Solutions: Can still identify best practice with qualitative information


backed up where possible with quantitative. Will try as best we can
to fit it with BERR models.

The network will influence and own the National Guide to best
practice - best practices from each region which will be incorporated
into the guide – process, marketing, products etc.. Everybody is
currently delivering services slightly differently and there are many
examples of good practice.

CG pointed out that during this work, a recession has begun so in


terms of some of the outputs we need a specific focus maybe using
the case studies to include topics on “surviving the recession”.
Picking up intelligence from some of the other sectors, there are
some imaginative schemes under Train To Gain.

Examples from the regions – how businesses are coping with the
recession.

IB – need to demonstrate resilience and opportunities that have


come out – digital agencies etc.
LR – new product development and diversification into new markets
First big challenge the industry has faced.
Contextualise case studies in terms of economic climate.

Quality Assurance
Frances helped to develop Customer First standard.
IB – what do you say to businesses in the sector to say this is a
really good thing for them? Is a kite mark appropriate for this
group? How do we do that?
There needs to be some degree of quality assurance.

Is it not done through Commitment 13 and the Creative Britain doc.


Should there be an externally facing sign to assure quality
assurance or done through the process of the network?
Quality assurance or continuous improvement?
Customer First is continuous improvement – have to have evidence
base over a period of time.

There should be a learning improvement process rather than a


quality assurance mark across the network.

Looking at Commitment 13 bullet points -


Forging links with specialised advisers and mentors – not touched
on? (I think this is a matter of focus – we have identified and
contacted some specialist advisers but the emphasis has been on
Business Links and their interactions with such specialists).
Specialist advisers – centered around London – NE struggling to
access specialist advisers.

Quality Assurance is important to the business, need to be assured


that the broker is quality assured. Don’t have the same resources in
all regions. However all BL advisers/brokers are SFEDI accredited
which provides a basis for QA.

A measure of value of business support would be useful.

TWR will build a narrative around quality assurance for each region,
looking at customer journey, recruiting specialist advisers etc..

Skills

Presentation from Skillset postponed until next meeting.

Which of our regions are integrating skills into business support?

Most have LSC Train to Gain contract – not East Midlands, Yorkshire
will have the contract in April.

How integrated is the skills offer in a sectoral capacity? How is it


being managed?

SW – separate teams last year but things have moved on and they
are part of our team, part of brokerage team. Operating in a CI
context.

Other BLs?
In the South West there are separate teams but being integrated
much more from April although they don’t have creative specific
teams
West Midlands is similar.

AL said there is an issue with quality of supply of training.


Key is putting large and small employers where they can influence
funding and start stimulating demand.

RB said that there is very little representation of the sector on sub-


regional Employment and Skills Boards.

SM said TtG has limitations, however Yorkshire has an Enhancement


fund which is very flexible in what it defines as training. Doesn’t
have to be accredited in any way. A business can apply, a provider
can apply or funding can be accessed through a consortium bid.

BLs may be able to provide the same type of initiative right across
North of England.
If brokers could come forward and offer the same package it would
ease things up a lot.

Dissemination of Best Practice

Deadline for reports: end of April

National online platform – in each region TWR have been to,


advisers have said it would be good to have some sort of
platform/network for advisers to compare cases, identify specialist
providers, as well as a place to meet and solve problems.

Organise knowledge? Some putting more into it than others. Some


may or may not benefit from being aggregated in some way.
Aggregated Knowledge Hub?

The network seems to be starting to work – sharing ideas and


opportunities – is there a requirement to keep this group going
forward?
Web 2.0 an issue, branding and marketing
Or is the network going to dissolve, can it exist on line?

What does the group become - advocacy? It is happening in regions


to a greater or lesser extent.
TWR will provide Bespoke Guides to Good practice both for the
sector and for the regions. Could take this forward even further -
Sub-sector guides, music, software or even area guides.

AF said it was up to the network as to where they wanted to take it –


if want to put in the time it would be a good idea to keep it going.
Network should decide and would get BERR support.

How is the DCMS going to report back that Commitment 13 has


been done?
AF – you have done it because you are meeting regularly and by
doing the report – what is delivered from TWR means that you have
succeeded.

IB asked how do DCMS and BERR intend to use the qualitative and
quantitative measures? Is this a transformational change in the way
businesses work together to increase this sector?

IB said it would be good to link continuous improvements to assess


whether products and services have worked or not.

AB said what would keep it ongoing is the value and the process to
the network. When BERR see the analysis and we have reaction
from around the table – might be something that could be replicated
outside the network. There is then a case for BERR and DCMS and
others to essentially have a proper and coherent report to take to
business support colleagues.

CG said it reinforces one of the outputs that we need from TWR for
BERR and other colleagues which is a clear business case. Do we
need to be able to complete a mini evaluation of what do we get out
of this process? Eg. NW having conversations with Yorks. “This cost
us X but the value we got out of it was X”.
One of outputs we need is a summary of tangible and intangible
benefits so beside guides we need to see benefits of the process.

Online platform
Would want to be used by all sectors?
– Huddle platform

Themed network meetings – pick up on relationships formed here


and could certainly extend that.

Guides should be in a workbook format that BLs can use on an


ongoing basis.

It would be useful for TWR to meet Business Support team at BERR


before compiling reports.
AB – key is that what works here works elsewhere, it is the
underlying rationale that is what they are interested in.

IB said if there are new policy challenges coming in we need to


understand how that might take place (delivering Digital Britain).

Things have changed since Creative Britain was published – need for
DCMS to say at some point here is the progress that has been made
and here is how it has been updated. What comes next? Need to
know it is still a priority.

AB – there is a strong tendency for govt to produce something like


Creative Britain with more commitments than there should have
been – not necessarily seeing beyond big tick in the box. Make a
case that having started the process, there is value in taking it
forward that will deliver within the broader policy framework.
The more granular stuff that can be of real benefit can be left in the
verge. Don’t rely on govt doing it, you need to be making a clear
case that will say this really works and can be built on.

How is this relevant to digital Britain?


AF – there will be something on the first anniversary looking at the
commitments and progress made - Digital Britain will feed into that.
After that during March and April, DCMS will look at what is left –
and decide what can come next.

Interim report stage is key – “marker in the sand”

Arts Council soon to report on their plans to deliver Creative Britain.

AL said the discussion had been helpful in terms of determining who


the real audience is - EDs

Possibility of launch event?


Who is the national guide aimed at?
AF said aim it at our level – links to trade bodies – happy to host an
event in London.

The guide could provide a knowledge hub and form an aggregation


if it lived on the website.
AB asked to what extent has the work involved the trade bodies? It
might be worthwhile to keep them in mind as an audience - do not
surprise them too much. Intellect, BPI, DBA etc..

AL – this has not emerged because London has not been involved in
the network.

DCMS could invite them to a presentation – get them feeling like


they are involved.
AOB

Date of next meeting: Monday 16 March, 11am


Location: AWM