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Pathways to Opportunity: A Framework for Growth

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A coordinated framework to support the growth of the Creative Cluster will allow Ontario to seize these opportunities — in digital media, traditional cultural industries and across all creative industries.
The following six pillars underpin this framework for action to build and strengthen the Cluster:

Pillar 1 Develop private investment and financing

Strengthen companies through improved access to capital to drive innovation, help them enter new markets and develop talent and leadership.

Ontario's creative industries have proven to be entrepreneurial in navigating the complex route to financing new projects. However, access to working capital, credit and equity is often limited for many companies in the Creative Cluster. Without investment capacity, creative industries will not be able to innovate and adopt digital technologies, let alone gear up their development agendas for conducting their traditional business in challenging times. The root causes of this lack of investment must be understood and addressed to facilitate investment in Creative Cluster companies and improve access to capital markets.
The following opportunities could provide creative industries in Ontario with the financial depth needed to invest in the next generation of world-leading products:

  • Help firms become more "investor-ready"
  • Improve access to equity investment
  • Facilitate access to credit

Pillar 2 Develop a global presence and market expansion

Enable Ontario's Creative Cluster to make inroads into high-growth potential markets by providing Ontario firms with market intelligence and new ideas and by reinforcing success and innovation in domestic markets.

Ontario's Creative Cluster needs to advance its market presence at home and abroad in order to grow. Otherwise, its competitors, who are putting a priority on export market development, will stifle growth or even reduce Ontario's existing market share.

The challenge to compete internationally is two-fold: Ontario companies must have the financial capacity to make the necessary investments and Ontario's Creative Cluster must be recognized as an international centre of excellence. This challenge could be responded to by:

  • Growing international networking and export capacity
  • Developing a strong brand to communicate the unique value proposition of the Cluster

Pillar 3 Foster innovation and digital transition

Open new markets and improve access to existing markets through innovation, cost-competitiveness and higher quality products and services.

Ontario's Creative Cluster must focus on innovation and accelerate the rapid adoption of digital technologies in all aspects of the value chain. The following are the key elements of innovation as they affect the Creative Cluster in Ontario:

  • Innovation at the firm or project level, including technological and business model innovation
  • The adoption of digital technologies as part of the shift to digital production, distribution and promotions methods and in some cases transformation
  • The need for collaboration mechanisms, particularly to leverage the province's strengths in design and ICT

Activities to support Ontario's value proposition should

  • Drive innovation at the firm or project level
  • Facilitate the adoption of digital technologies across the value chain
  • Leverage Ontario's strength in ICT and design
  • Encourage a modernized federal regulatory environment

Pillar 4 Develop a strong ecosystem

Leverage the potential power of a critical mass of small- to medium-sized entrepreneurial firms and supporting service firms, including some larger firms and anchor companies in appropriate industries.

Ontario's Creative Cluster needs to build on its rich ecology of companies and institutions — particularly buyers and distributors of the content produced from the works of Ontario's creators. If Ontario lacks major elements in this ecology, it will fail to generate the critical mass needed for leadership in the Creative Cluster.

Start-ups tend to inject new ideas, technologies and/or personnel into the marketplace. Stable medium-sized firms often develop new concepts, organize the financing and marketing of projects and manage the resulting IP assets. Large "anchor" companies can provide financing, market opportunities and distribution, and often creative support.

While Ontario has undeniable strengths in the Creative Cluster ecology, there remain gaps and weaknesses that impede it from taking full advantage of the opportunities available. Strategies to strengthen this pillar should include:

  • Encouraging start-ups and early stage growth in the Creative Cluster
  • Attracting, developing and leveraging the larger "anchor" companies

Pillar 5 Develop skills and leadership infrastructure

Equip the Creative Cluster with the leadership and skilled talent needed to build strong companies and to gain competitive advantage in increasingly global and dynamic markets.

Creative talent and leadership are among the most critical elements of a strong Creative Cluster. Developing and attracting talent that is capable of exploiting the commercial value of its creativity is crucial to ensuring the economic success of a Creative Cluster. In addition, the globalized and dynamic nature of the knowledge-based economy calls for a workforce that is flexible and capable of continuous retraining and upgrading as products, markets and demands shift constantly.

Ontario can establish the ideal skills and leadership infrastructure needed to capitalize on established and emerging market opportunities by:

  • Growing business and entrepreneurship skills
  • Focusing education and skills development on growing the Creative Cluster
  • Taking advantage of our diverse population base
  • Retaining and attracting the best talent

Pillar 6 Foster industry-government collaboration

Multiply and amplify the value of contributions from both sectors and effectively leverage government support.

A strong and effective partnership between industry and government at all levels is essential to developing a world-class Creative Cluster. While government and industry goals may not always align, industry's needs must be effectively communicated to government to enable it to act as a facilitator and advocate for conditions conducive to industry growth. This includes a clear expression of priorities and viable strategies from both industry and government.

In return, both industry and government must have the capacity to coordinate and deliver on the programs and initiatives needed to create positive conditions for the Creative Cluster. Coordination and communication will be essential to strengthen these relations.

The priorities under this pillar should address:

  • Strengthening the capacity of industry associations
  • Collaborating to grow domestic audiences for Ontario's cultural products
  • Involving all relevant Ontario ministries in pursuing Creative Cluster opportunities