Budget 2017: Creative industry reaction. Welcome recognition of sector’s importance but also disappointment

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the tech and digital industries would form the backbone of the global economy of the future – and the UK will lead this revolution.

Measures introduced in the Budget included more than £500m in a range of initiatives from Artificial Intelligence (AI), to 5G and full-fibre broadband.

Tomo Yasuda, pictured, managing director of Bristol-based Cookpad Ltd, the global online recipe sharing and cooking community, said it was great to see a major focus on technology and innovation, with significant funding to ensure Britain remained at the forefront of the global technology revolution. 

“The Budget has promised funding for AI, including the opportunity to build AI capability and knowledge by increasing the number of AI PhD students; along with budget to train more computer science teachers and create a new National Centre for Computing to ensure the next generation is equipped with the skills they need to thrive in the modern world of work,” he said.

“As the digital sector is the fastest-growing part of the UK economy, today’s announcement has provided some assurance that the government recognise this. At Cookpad Ltd we have a world-class, international Machine Learning and AI team and plan to invest significantly to bring more of the brightest and best to our region; along with a new wave of technology talent.”

Cookpad plans to reach 100 countries within the next three years from its recently-opened Bristol-based global HQ.

Institute of Directors South West chair Nick Sturge, who is also director of Bristol’s Engine Shed innovation hub, said: “Increasing the amount of Public Data made open for companies would critical to enhance their products and develop new ones. Let’s hope the impressively named new Geospatial Data Commission does that.

“There are already some Developer Licenses available that allow use of charged for Public Data for free under certain criteria and we’d like to see this extended. Data is of increasing importance to the economy and driving both innovation and productivity.”

James Durie, chief executive of Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative at Business West, welcomed the announcements supporting tech companies, the roll out of electric cars and a raft of measures to improve education, skills and the digital economy.

“The status of Bristol and Bath as a leading cluster of digital innovation was recognised as the Chancellor identified the two cities as a dedicated regional hub that will contribute to the roll out of £21m worth of sector programmes over the next four years,” he said.

But the Creative Industries Federation said the Budget was far from ‘fit for the future’. Chief executive John Kampfner called it “disappointing”, adding “with the creative industries already contributing £87bn to the economy, the government has missed an important opportunity to invest in the UK’s fastest-growing sector at a critical time for the country.

“Failure to back our world-leading creative enterprises and entrepreneurs will be to the detriment of a sector that creates jobs at four times the rate of the wider UK workforce.

“A lack of commitment to the creative industries will mean that this job creation in our towns and cities across the land will be damaged.

“All this comes at a time of lacklustre growth forecasts and the apportioning of a further £3bn to deal with faltering Brexit negotiations.

“As a highly innovative sector, working increasingly closely with tech, the creative industries welcome new funding for innovation and improved digital infrastructure. But the lack of ambition behind government’s commitments to the creative industries sector deal and the Cultural Development Fund risks undermining the growth and prosperity all are trying to achieve.”

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