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24 May, 2018 - 12:28 By Kate Sweeney

East of England quartet make creative industries elite

Two companies each from Cambridge and Hertfordshire have been named in the CE50 2018 elite – the 50 best up and coming disruptors and innovators working in creative industries across the English regions. 

Spanning the film and TV, gaming and digital media industries, the CE50 are chosen for their talent, ingenuity and ability to turn a bright idea into a commercial success.

Previous CE50 have gone on to receive BAFTA nominations, opened international offices, revolutionised the way Western products are sold to the Chinese market, and received the prestigious Nora Ephron prize at the Tribeca Film Festival.

This year’s cohort highlights the move towards technology and creativity merging to create meaningful solutions to real-world problems, with many of the companies championing diversity, and giving a platform to unheard voices.

The list is hand-picked by Creative England, which champions and supports the creative industries across the regions outside of London, along with nominations from regional partners.

Four of the CE50 are based in the East of England and embrace film, games, technology and animation work.

Cambridge is on the up in this increasingly vibrant sector. It employs 18,005 people in the creative industries (ninth best in the UK) and has 4,113 creative business, according to Nesta’s Creative Nation report.

Film, TV, video, radio and photography is the fastest growing creative sector in Cambridge, which between 2011-14 and 2015-16 grew by 53 businesses (a growth rate of 19.85 per cent) and created 117 jobs (a rise of 22.75 per cent). 

The CE50 Cambridge stars

Ivan MacTaggart launched his film and television production company, Cambridge Picture Company earlier this year, following BAFTA, Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his feature, Loving Vincent. Cambridge Picture Company is drawing on the wealth of scientific innovation Cambridge has to offer by forming partnerships with local industry leaders to develop and identify new technologies and techniques to reduce risk and increase effectiveness of development, production and distribution of audio-visual content. 

The company’s first production is feature film Red Joan, co-produced with Trademark Films, starring Judi Dench and Sophie Cookson. 

Cambridge games studio Inkle Studios creates compelling stories told in beautiful ways. 80 Days, released in 2014, was named both TIME Magazine’s Game of the Year and one of the Telegraph’s Top 100 Novels of the Year.
It is followed by Heaven’s Vault, due for release in 2019. Made up of hundreds of meticulously hand-drawn frames of 2D art within beautiful 3D environments, the game is visually stunning. 
The concept sees players translate an ancient hieroglyphic language to delve deeper into the narrative, playing the role of archaeologist Aliya Elasra and her sidekick Six.

Hertfordshire’s CE50 duo

Working in the expanding world of immersive technologies, Interactive Imagination creates leading-edge interactive exhibits for clients, across VR, touch-screen and mechatronic interactions. 

The company thrives on original ideas, with an impressive portfolio of work for clients including Selfridges and The Natural History Museum, and has been supported by Creative England’s ProConnect Hertfordshire to grow the business.

Award-winning animation studio Slurpy Studios creates content across TV, online, education and app development. Slurpy Studios champions employment within the region, boasting a young team of talented animators, storyboard artists and sound designers working on projects for impressive clients including Comic Relief, British Council and BBC Learning.

Caroline Norbury, CEO of Creative England, says: “The people and businesses featured in this year’s CE50 are at the very forefront of creativity. Through their work – be it games, film or TV productions, interactive platforms or immersive experiences – they produce the original ideas, the entertaining content and the innovations which make this country truly world-leading in the creative industries.

“According to the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), the UK creative sector contributes £92 billion to the UK economy, yet despite the fact that the creative industries are growing more rapidly than other sectors in nine out of every 10 locations in the UK, they still struggle to get finance.

“Creative England exists to fill the access to finance gap and continues to provide a combination of tailored investment and support to help creative businesses develop new business models, deliver products and services and take risks on innovation.”

• Image courtesy – Inkle Studios

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