Platform recently worked with BOP Consulting to evaluate the impact that Stoke and Staffordshire’s moving image cluster has had over the first two years of its life and its great to now publish that final report here.

It’s been an invaluable exercise and having that impartial, external view of Platform has provided some important points for discussion as we look to take the cluster forward.

The cluster.

We’ve seen some notable successes, with our companies being recognised on a national and international level for their work, the screen sector and creative industries as a whole growing rapidly and some exciting new projects being developed.

We face some real challenges however, and it’s interesting to see this report alongside the recent Creative Industries Council visit to the city and the outcomes of that.

Strategy is key.

The potential of the city and our digital-creative sector is huge but unless we work in a more strategic, connected way with our partners in the city region, that potential will go unfulfilled. Growth strategies have to incorporate the digital-creative sector fully if they are going to be relevant to the economic realities of the next five years. As a city region we have to learn from and be proud of our past, but we can’t live in it.

The digital-creative industries have become the new powerhouse of the global economy and that works at a macro, as well as a micro level. The World Economic Forum report on the future of jobs highlights how local, regional and national economies will be impacted by the Fourth industrial Revolution (4IR). And its not just about robots and AI – 4IR is far more than that. It is reconfiguring global trade, skills needs and how we think about economic growth.

Stoke-on-Trent’s future.

That might seem like a long way from Stoke but it’s not. Supporting our digital-creative industries and the skills needed to see our ambitions through must be at the forefront of all our thinking. If we want to see a vibrant, creative and entrepreneurial city then clusters like Platform are vital.

See the report below:

To keep up with Stoke and Staffordshire’s moving image cluster follow Platform on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

This week was the 2019 EU Cluster Conference, an annual event held over three days in the Palaces of Parliament, Bucharest.

The event provides a unique chance to discuss recent and future developments in cluster policy in order to support innovative, sustainable industrial modernisation and interregional cooperation to connect different actors among the international cluster community.

Platform’s Chair Peter Rudge was in attendance. Here, he shares a few of his thoughts on the event and the importance of clusters and connecting ecosystems.

Clusters and Ecosystems

I’ve been in Bucharest this week at the EU Cluster Conference. It’s been an interesting couple of days with discussions around the changing nature of clusters, the political, social and economic volatility and the ever-increasing pace of technological and industrial change.

The theme of the conference – connecting ecosystems – is highly relevant but something that many local, regional, and national governments are yet to really engage with.

There has been some recognition of this in the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, with an emphasis placed on the value of clusters. However, while supporting clusters and cluster initiatives is important, clusters themselves also need to recognise that their activities can no longer just be holding networking events and running a few workshops.

Clusters need to be orchestrating and leading the development of complete innovation and growth ecosystems.

It’s important however to make a distinction here. Business ecosystems are nothing new, but are usually described in terms of the supply and distribution chains that businesses engage with.

Moving Forward

The ecosystems required over the next 5 to 10 years are more about the education and skills pipeline, targeted R&D collaborations, start-up support, access to finance so that successful start-ups can successfully scale-up and cluster organisations that can be the framework in which all of these elements sit effectively and efficiently.

The pace of technological and industrial change is only going to accelerate and the ability of SME’s in particular to manage that change and effectively allocate resources to it is going to be severely challenged. And that is where clusters can play a crucial role.

By acting as the driver, advocate, and glue that brings together – and holds together – multiple partners, clusters can establish and stabilise those delicate innovation ecosystems that everyone wants to see. In effect, clusters become the structures through which local and regional growth strategies can most effectively be implemented.

That’s not the easiest message to give to local or regional governments and development agencies that traditionally have led this process, but it’s not about clusters supplanting those organisations. It about plugging local and expert clusters into the process, working in partnership to make sure that resources are targeted and used for maximum impact, and recognising that impact in the fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is not really going to be about transport infrastructure and industrial estates. It’s going to be about creative technologies, industrial – not just digital – transformation, and a skills pipeline that is far more inclusive.

That is where clusters really need to be, and it’s why they need to transform into orchestrators of the fragile sector ecosystems that they support.

For more information on the event, please visit

Visit to find out more about Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s moving image cluster.

Chapman University

Peter Rudge, Chair of Platform, was in Los Angeles at the start of June to present a talk about the development and launch of the moving image cluster.

The talk was part of an international conference on the creative industries, held at the prestigious Chapman University in Los Angeles.

The conference examined the role that the creative industries can play in forging transatlantic economic and research networks and Peter spoke about the creation of Platform and how that might be a springboard for developing international projects for the cluster members and stakeholders.

There was considerable interest in the uniqueness of Platform, its geographical position and the heritage of creativity and innovation of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire that the cluster has been built upon.

Links with projects in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Dijon in France are already being discussed, providing a great opportunity to promote Platform internationally and create business and opportunities for our members.

Peter said, “It’s great to see Platform gaining so much traction so quickly. The interest and response to what we’re doing is amazing, especially as advocacy was a big part of our initial mission. The goal now is to build on this and get our companies engaging with and exploiting opportunities across the US and Europe.”