Creative Challenge Celtic Crescent North West

4CNW (Creative Challenge Celtic Crescent North West) was a business innovation support programme to demonstrate how public authorities can stimulate business innovation take-up and increase enterprise, through a unique service innovation that partners creative professionals with businesses in the wider economy.  It had two key target groups, industry demand SME’s and creative supply companies, which form part of a wider framework for integrated action involving, enterprise and innovation support agencies, cross-sector partnerships, policy makers and creative sector cluster managers.

The 4CNW programme was implemented transnationally across the jurisdictions of Ireland (North West), Northern Ireland and Scotland by the Creative State North West PPP in 2012/13. It was co-financed by the European Creative Industries Alliance (ECIA) an initiative of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry.

Aims & Actions

A key aim of the 4CNW programme was to enable knowledge and experience exchange between creative businesses and the wider business environment, using brokered matchmaking to encourage better practice in demand-led innovation.

This was achieved through the competitive selection of ‘business challenges’ and implemented through the 4CNW Talent fund. The action targeted companies from four high growth industry sectors: Life Sciences, Tourism, Technology and Agrifood and encouraged practical collaboration and co production between businesses in these sectors and the creative professionals. You can read case studies and learnings in the final report; Brokering Creative Advantage

Successful applicants to the 4CNW Talent fund received a voucher worth between €1,000 and €5,000 to help innovate their products, services, processes or business model through adoption of creative techniques and technologies supplied by creative professionals. The voucher scheme was operated on a matched funding basis.


The 4CNW programme offered businesses the opportunity to create competitive advantage at a reduced cost. It drove new linkages between the creative sector and the four key industry sectors named above, demonstrating the role of creative industries in the wider eco system of innovation and providing a new model for measuring their impact as a catalyst for economic growth within Europe.

The key findings from the Independent Evaluation Report include;

• The operation of 4CNW demonstrated a huge latent capacity for the application of creative services and input across business sectors. It showed a lack of capacity for businesses to define their creative needs and a lack of awareness of the depth of creative talent available in their local region. It provides evidence of the need for capacity building mechanisms to grow knowledge and awareness within industry as to the value of creative services.

• The application of the talent voucher fund allowed the value of creative services to be showcased and demonstrated. It created new avenues to markets and clients for creative industries while developing new solutions for participating business.

• The holistic, bespoke business supports offered by 4CNW provided a co-ordinated and targeted response, towards stimulating new markets, enhancing competitiveness and innovation among many small firms across a range of enterprise sectors.

Overall the programme has shown the merits of what creative input can give to business in terms of value, changed thinking, opening mind-sets towards implementing new approaches to problems and thereby enhancing capacity competitiveness and innovation in industry. Therefore there is strong merit in the continuation and expansion of 4CNW actions.

Key Success Indicators:

The pilot voucher actions, led by Ireland, Spain and Austria each run for 2 years 2012/13. Learning arising from evaluation and assessment of the pilots will inform evidence based policy making relating to the creative and cultural industries, nationally and in Europe, together with the development of a strategy to mainstream this voucher model. ECIA will present the policy findings in November 2014.


News & Features

Brokering Creative Advantage; key findings from the 4CNW Programme