Students Staff

15 May 2015

Helping our creative and digital industries thrive

Creative Colchester: Innovation workshop on the creative and digital industries from University of Essex on Vimeo.

We’ve been helping to bring people together to find the best way to nurture the emerging creative and digital industries in Colchester and Essex.

Business leaders, arts organisations and local councils came to Wivenhoe House Hotel at our Colchester Campus for workshops and discussions organised by Creative Colchester – a group established to support the strategic direction and investment priorities for arts and creative business sectors in the borough.

Executive Dean for the Faculty of Humanities and chair of Colchester Creative Board Professor Lorna Fox O'Mahony said: “The digital economy is rapidly expanding outside London. This event offered stakeholders an opportunity to identify their needs - from facilities to the development and enhancement of specific skillsets in the workforce - that will ensure that the Colchester and North Essex hub of creative and digital industries is fully equipped to thrive in this fast growing sector.”

Those attending heard from Andrea Stark, founder and Chief Executive of High House Production Park (HHPP) in Thurrock, a pioneering charity established to advance culture-led regeneration. Andrea is also working on behalf of South East Local Enterprise Partnership to support the development of Colchester as a creative industries hub. She highlighted the size of the creative and digital industries in the south east and Colchester’s huge potential due to its proximity to London and the creative community already based here.

She said: “We must understand how to sustain ourselves and grow. We are in pole position and should see ourselves as a united industry. We need to be more visible, physically better connected and get shared spaces so we can develop together.”

Those attending discussed skills requirments, digital marketing and social media, industry engagement, space and facilities, business support, trends and opportunities including app development and artificial intelligence, and how to tap into research funding.

Presentations included Professor Simon Lucas on app and games development, Steve Huckle from Shark Infested Custard highlighting the success of the Games Hub at Parkside Office Village, Julie Rosoman on digital marketing and social media, Professor Vania Sena on big data, and Tim Wilson from Red Memory Box on image manipulation.

Support for our students

Feedback will not only help identify ways of supporting the creative and digital sectors, it will also inform the development of courses at Essex. For example Head of Journalism Professor Jonathan Baker, along with Film Studies lecturer Nic Blower, led a table discussion on on how to integrate multimedia skills in the curriculum to meet what industry is looking for.

Business leaders said they were searching for people with the right digital skills. This shows students can make themselves stand out from the crowd when seeking graduate roles by harnessing vital digital and social media skills, all hotly sought after by employers.

Essex is already developing a forward-thinking curriculum for BA Multimedia Journalism students that embraces the new era of journalism, offering training in the vital digital skills to meet the evolving demands of employers.


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