Growing what we have – A doubling of the workforce: The potential for the Creative Sector in the West of Ireland

Innovative research commissioned by the Western Development Commission and carried out by researchers at NUI, Galway has highlighted the potential for a doubling of the workforce employed in the Creative Sector over the next 10 years. Additionally this could lead to up to €150 M in additional exports per annum from the sector – a key area of growth identified. The report is a follow up to the WDC’s much heralded Creative West report published in February 2009, which in itself established the creative economy in the western region as being internationally significant with 4,775 businesses employing 11,000 people directly.

Today’s follow up analysis entitled–“Creative Sector in The Western Region – Future Growth Trajectories “, was published this week by the WDC. Complied by a research team led by Dr Patrick Collins of NUI Galway’s Centre for Innovation and Structural Change the report maps out the future growth scenarios for an industrial sector that has been bucking international trends in terms of growth.

“Internationally this sector has been outpacing others in terms of growth and this is a pattern that we see emerging in Ireland” according to Dr Collins at CISC. “It is clear to us that a small number of policies, correctly implemented have the potential to make a massive difference for the sector and the region” he continued. Commenting on the research, Dr. James Cunningham, the Director of CISC maintained that “this work shows an area of potential for the whole of the west of Ireland, and in the current climate, all potential needs to be realised”.

Ian Brannigan regional development manager for the WDC commented: “The WDC are delighted to welcome this analysis of how we create opportunities and employment from this indigenous and significant part of our economy. We have long realized the creative economy is a natural resource and we are now working with the sector to both highlight this and move ahead to grow the employment and export opportunities.”

In particular the report focuses on the promotion of exports and increased collaboration between members of the sector as key steps in attaining this growth. The increasing international demand for the authentic and unique products characterized by this sector points to the growth potential for exporting, while the sharing of knowledge and innovation through collaboration also highlights the growth dynamic of this relatively new sector. The issues highlighted by the research are exceptionally relevant in light of the current economic climate and recent figures showing a rise in the numbers unemployed in the region.

Ian also stated that.” Of particular interest to us is the fact that in addition to the employment and revenue opportunities identified by the businesses themselves, the analysis shows us wider benefits in terms of option, educational and prestige values, which simply means that almost everyone benefits directly from the sector growth in some way or another”

Gillian Buckley Acting CEO for the WDC stated “Once again we are seeing that there is a real return on supporting our indigenous SME sector and that they form a key part in supporting the wider knowledge economy growth in the region and beyond. The WDC is happy to play a key role in helping make this happen in our communities”

This industry involved analysis underpins an ongoing series of initiatives the WDC and partners are undertaking to tangibly support the growth in market, revenue and employment opportunities within the burgeoning creative economy in the western region (The Creative West).


For further information contact: Western Development Commission Ian Brannigan, Regional Development Manager, Western Development Commission

Tel: 00353 (0)94 9861893
Mobile: 00353 (0)86 6048012
Fax: 00353 (0)94 9861443


For further information contact: Dr Patrick Collins, Centre for Innovation and Structural Change, NUI Galway 091 493326 email: Full findings of the research and the published article are available at:

About CISC

The Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) is an inter-disciplinary research institute, based at J.E. Cairnes Business School of Business & Economic at National University of Ireland Galway, focused on building an internationally-recognised programme of research and education on innovation processes and policies that are fundamental to the development of a knowledge-based economy. CISC is one of the four major research institutes within NUI Galway and it is aligned to the Applied Social Science and Public Policy thematic research priority.

About Western Development Commission

The Western Development Commission (WDC) is a statutory body that was set up to promote both social and economic development in the Western Region (Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare) by:

Ensuring that government policy is directed at improving the social and economic situation in the region.

Developing projects in tourism, industry, marine, renewable energy, technology and organic Agri-food, etc..

Operating the €32 million Western Investment Fund (WIF) to provide loans and equity to business and local communities in the West.