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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ACE Creative (ACE Creative: Harnessing the strengths of innovation multipliers to accelerate creative industry growth through an integrated ecosystem of supports in finance, market access and technology exploitation.)
H2020

ACE Creative Report Summary

Project ID: 644386
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1.4.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ACE Creative (ACE Creative: Harnessing the strengths of innovation multipliers to accelerate creative industry growth through an integrated ecosystem of supports in finance, market access and technology exploitation.)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2015-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Co-financed by the European Union (EU) under Grant Agreement No. 644386, ACE Creative is an ambitious initiative that aims to stimulate the growth of the ICT-driven creative industries in Europe by overcoming challenges at individual SME level (size, access to finance…), at the innovation support level (disparity in quality of support) and at overall creative industry level (fragmentation, localisation…). ACE Creative addresses these challenges by networking innovation support players and harnessing their regional strengths into a European ecosystem to respond more effectively to SME needs.

The ACE Creative vision is for a thriving and connected European ICT-driven creative industries sector supported to grow internationally by a sustainable pan-European network of innovation support players. Two specific end user groups of SMEs will thus be targeted through ACE Creative: (i) creative industy SMEs exploiting advanced ICT technologies; and (ii) ICT SMEs innovating in the field of creative industries. Hereinafter these two target groups are referred to as C&I SMEs as described in image 1.

Both C&I SMEs are supported by the ACE Creative network, for example, from helping ICT SMEs identify market opportunities in the creative sectors across Europe to preparing creative SMEs exploiting the latest ICT technologies to prepare business plans for banks or pitch to investors.

At kick-off in January 2015 the ACE Creative consortium involved 11 full and 6 associate partners from 15 European countries. These partners are committed to extending this network to engage 100+ associate partners from across the EU28 by the end of its funding period, December 2016. This goal is to be achieved by engaging with existing European internationalisation support projects and initiatives and consolidating ‘loose linkages’ into a concrete and value added reality for Europe’s ICT-driven creative industries sector.

Over the course two years, ACE Creative aims to:

• provide Customised Support Programmes (CSPs) to 100 SMEs (50 each year);
• prepare the top 30 companies (15 each year) from among these to pitch to an audience of international investors at the Creative Business Cup finals;
• support a further 400 SMEs through a series of 15 ACE Creative international bootcamps being staged across Europe in 2015 and 2016;
• engage 1000 SMEs on the ACE Creative online support platform; and,
• grow the ACE Creative network of Business Support Organisations to 100 partners from across the EU28.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"In order to achieve its goal of delivering value-added support for growth to Europe’s C&I SMEs by engaging with existing European internationalisation support projects, one of the first tasks undertaken in ACE Creative was a pan-European mapping of existing support services currently on offer at regional, national and European levels. By building on and connecting to existing internationalisation support services available, ACE Creative aims to deliver new value-added support to high potential C&I SMEs. At the end of the first 12 months the ACE Creative network had grown from 17 partners in 15 countries to 34 partners covering 21 European countries. Interested business support organisations and innovation multipliers active in the digital and creative industries can register their interest to join this network at www.acecreative.eu.

To reflect this commitment of the consortium to build on and add value to existing support services the project was rebranded from InnoCreate to ACE Creative in April 2015. ACE Creative builds on the already established brand of the ACE tailormade acceleration programme for ICT entrepreneurs and the community of 1000+ ACE ICT companies, investors, mentors and innovation multipliers. While the ACE programme was supporting the ICT sector as a whole, ACE Creative specifies this offer to address the special needs of ICT-driven creative industries (e.g. advertising, architecture, arts, design, fashion, films, music, publishing, video games, TV, radio, etc.), offering a customised package of support measures to help ICT-driven creative companies enter new European and international markets.

During its first year ACE Creative has run four international bootcamps in partnership with established events that attract the same target audience of ICT-driven creative entrepreneurs. Initial feedback at the end of Year 1 indicates that the face-to-face networking, pitching and training opportunities provided at the bootcamps are highly valued by participating entrepreneurs.

At the end of Year 1 Customised support plans (CSPs) have been put in place for 50 C&I SMEs. In delivering the CSPs, ACE Creative partners commit to working together to open up support services currently offered at a regional or national level to C&I SMEs from across Europe and develop the additional supports needed to offer an integrated pan-European ecosystem of supports to C&I SMEs. Each selected company is assigned a local mentor, in their own or nearest ACE Creative partner country, who assesses their needs and leverages support available through the ACE Creative network to address these. A Luxemburgish company wishing to expand into the UK and Germany, for example, is treated by ACE Creative Partners in the UK and Germany like one of their local companies and receives personal introductions to relevant contacts on the ground, from customers through suppliers to potential partners (e.g. technology partners) and investors.

The objective of this support is to fast-track companies’ access to new markets and accelerate their international growth. In order to measure to what extent this achieved partners each local mentor follows up regularly with their local companies to capture data on new clients or investment secured, new jobs created, subsidiaries opened abroad, etc. Although not all 50 CSPs begun in Year 1 have been completed early results indicate that the highly personalised nature of the support is yielding significant results for ACE Creative companies. A selection of these are highlighted in the section on "Progress Beyond State of the Art" below.

In addition to the customised support plans and international bootcamps, ACE Creative has also set up an online resource centre to make freely available quality-checked information on pathways to growth for C&I SMEs. During Year 1 the resource centre had over 10,000 unique views."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The results achieved during the first year of ACE Creative demonstrate the potential for significant impact in achieving the project's overall objective to fast-track companies’ access to new markets and accelerate their international growth. Although not all 50 CSPs begun in Year 1 have been completed early results indicate that the highly personalised nature of the support is yielding significant results for ACE Creative companies. We highlight a selection of these here.

Company A is an innovative solution provider for corporate marketing, media and event agencies wishing to offer their clients and audience a new brand experience ensuring through technologies an undeniable and astonishing impact. Their ACE Creative support team organised technology demos to large corporates for them, leading to interest secured from Warner Bros and Group Emirates.

Company B has developed an innovative tool to help writers turn ideas into stories. Support from ACE Creative partners enabled them to redefine their unique selling point (USP) and become pitch ready. They are currently being supported by ACE Creative partner in negotiations with two private investors and received introductions to potential clients and distributors at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Company C is an interactive educational game developer. Following an introduction by ACE Creative partners to the Mind The Bridge programme they were selected for European Innovation Day in Mountain View and as a result have secured interest from Edutopia and MacArthur foundations as international expansion partners.

Company D specialises in the development of innovative technology solutions for education, events & marketing, health and energy. Introductions to large corporates organised by ACE Creative partners have already led to the development of a new project with Schneider Electric.

Company E is an integrated solution provider to simplify digital presence of clubs and associations. They have received support from ACE Creative partners to redefine their USP and refine their pitch. Building on these they have been put forward for pitching opportunities provided by ACE Creative and secured over €0.5 million angel investment. Currently ACE Creative partners are supporting them in negotiations with two private investors and providing
targeted introductions to potential clients and distributors, with at least one new contract signed to date.

Company F developed a dating app for online gamers. Support from ACE Creative partners helped them to redefine their USP and refine their pitch. Through ACE Creative they had access to game-specific pitching opportunities and achieved an exit through a corporate venturing partnership.

In Year 2, ACE Creative will deliver CSPs to a further 50 C&I SMEs and run at least 10 more international bootcamps in partnership with established creative industries events across Europe. Particular effort will be placed in Year 2 on reinforcing the foundations laid in Year 1 for the sustainability of activities begun beyond the pilot funding period.

Related information

Record Number: 190278 / Last updated on: 2016-11-14