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Creative England

Hosted by self-proclaimed 'Tech Cool Hunter' and TV Presenter, Laura-Jane ‘LJ’ Rich, this one day conference kicked off with keynote speeches, engaging panel discussions and exciting announcements.

The afternoon delivered a series of thought-provoking masterclasses addressing the latest trends and issues facing the UK’s Creative Industries and the technological advancements being made by the next generation of creative entrepreneurs.

Scroll down or click on the buttons above to find out more about 'Creative England Live 2016: Catalyse'.


England’s thriving creative industries are among the most successful in the world and are made up of talented, dedicated people who take risks and push boundaries. The Creative Economy thrives on experimentation, co-operation, imagination and, crucially, creativity. 

The individuals and businesses highlighted in the Creative England 50 all form part of this new world. Some are emerging talents, others more established, but all are inventive, innovative and brave. Some have been supported by Creative England but what unites them all is their ability to turn creative ideas into commercial success. The beauty of creativity is that it takes just a small seed of investment to help individuals and businesses grow beyond their wildest dreams. 

Click here to read the Creative England 50 report for 2016.

Steve Hatch, Regional Director, Facebook UK & Ireland

Karen Blackett, Mediacom Chairwoman

Last Year's 50 - Where Are They Now?

We checked in with a few of last year's Creative England 50 to see how their creative endeavours fared in 2015 and how they'll play out in 2016.

Pixel Toys 

Creative England supported games studio Pixel Toys took to the stage during the September Apple conference in September 2014 for an exclusive demonstration in front of millions of viewers worldwide. The Leamington Spa-based studio were on hand to demo their new iOS game 'Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade' which showcases how Apple's brand new 3D Touch will work in a mobile game. 'Freeblade' was supported through Creative England’s GamesLab programme, a regional initiative to invest in start-ups outside of London. Pixel Toys was also supported last year through Greenshoots, the Creative England programme ran in association with Microsoft. 

Citrus Suite 

Mobile app designers, Citrus Suite, have been selected to work in partnership with Disney to develop a “digital project” aimed at encouraging families to be more actively engaged in their own wellbeing. This Liverpool based company beat stiff competition to be selected to work with the one of the world’s biggest entertainment companies to create innovative technology to help families lead healthier lives.                                                                                                              

HMA Digital 

Yorkshire based digital marketing agency, HMA, won ‘Best Marketing Campaign: Mixed Use’ at the Property Marketing Awards in June 2015. The award recognised HMA, who specialises in healthcare, property and retail digital marketing, as one of the collaborative marketing partners working with Commercial Property Developer MEPC to create the brand and marketing strategy and deliver first class marketing communication tools for Silverstone Park. 

The Floow 

Sheffield based telematics company The Floow accompanied  Prime Minister David Cameron to South East Asia in July 2015 to promote the UK’s booming financial technology sector. They were one of just 30 UK companies chosen to join the PM on his international trip, joining the likes of Aviva, Balfour Beatty, Airbus UK and JCB. The company also announced in September 2015 that they have partnered with Agero, Inc., based in Massachusetts, a leading provider of vehicle and driver safety, security and information services. They will be working to enhance Agero’s Driver360TM usage-based insurance (UBI) telematics platform with The Floow’s advanced driver scoring and analytics capabilities.

Carbon Digital 

Manchester based video & visual effects agency, Carbon Digital, won the 'Animation/Graphics' award at the 2015 Prolific North Awards in April for their work on Sony PlayStation’s LittleBigPlanet 3. These awards recognise the creative and media businesses in the north of England, with categories spanning broadcasting, publishing, digital, marketing, media sales, animation, PR, gaming, video and content.                                                                                                        

Living Lens 

Since setting up its city base in January 2014, specialist Liverpool software company Living Lens has grown from a three-person start-up to a team of nine full-time staff and five contractors, and it has attracted three rounds of investment of £60,000 in February 2014, £200,000 in June 2014, and £1m in August 2015. Based at Baltic Creative, Living Lens works with leading brands such as Unilever, Vine and Carphone Warehouse providing video data mining technology.

Future Leaders

Ten companies from this year's CE 50 report have been voted by a panel of creative industry judges to be part of Creative England’s Future Leaders list.

These companies are leading the charge for the creative industries, showcasing the best of what England’s regions have to offer and transforming the country’s economic future. Details of our 2016 Future Leaders will be revealed at Creative England Live 2016: Catalyst on January 20th. 

At Creative England we believe the best way to make progress is to embrace the unknown and focus on potential. If England is to continue to be a world-leader in creative business, then we need to give our creative heroes of the future the support they need. Our ten Future Leaders for 2016, all of whom have benefited from investment by Creative England, were chosen by a panel of judges for their strong growth promise and their potential to disrupt the sector with true innovation.

2016 Future Leaders

Andrew Haigh

Andrew Haigh is a writer/director. He is also an Executive Producer and showrunner on HBO’s 'LOOKING' for which he wrote and directed multiple episodes. Andrew has written and directed two high profile features - 'Weekend' and '45 Years'. 'Weekend' premiered at SXSW in March 2011 and picked up over 25 international awards before being distributed theatrically worldwide. In the US it also received a prestigious Criterion Collection release on DVD and Blu-Ray.

'45 Years' was filmed on location in Norfolk and tells the story of a couple whose marriage faces crisis after a letter arrives about an old girlfriend who died years earlier. It premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2015 where it won two Golden Bear Awards, and has since received a BAFTA nomination for Outstanding British Film. Charlotte Rampling has also been  nominated for Best Actress at the 88th Annual Academy Awards for '45 YEARS'.


Braci is a sound recognition platform that allows users to convert sounds into visual and sensory notifications through smart devices. The platform uses a unique and patentable digital fingerprinting sound recognition method that has been developed by Braci whose developers have so far created two main applications based on this technology:

  • Braci PRO – which allows users who are deaf, hard of hearing and elderly to be notified to sounds that ensure their safety, security and comfort alongside other features that can help in communications.
  • Snoring Detector – a unique method of tackle snoring. When snoring is detected during sleep, the application notifies the user through light and short pulses via a smart watch, prompting them to move into another position without waking them.

Duck Soup Films

Established in 2015,  Duck Soup Films is a collaboration between BAFTA and International EMMY award winning producer Bekki Wray-Rogers, ex Warp Films producer Libby Durdy and Line Producer Jessica Holyland. The organisation’s eclectic development slate includes feature films, TV Drama series and digital projects with international range. The team is working with some of the very best established names but is also committed to nurturing innovative projects from emerging talent across the cultural industries.

Hurricane Films

Hurricane Films has enjoyed broadcast and immersive film commissions from the BBC, Channel Four, ITV, National Geographic Channel and PBS in the USA, with work screened internationally in over forty countries. Owned and run by Solon Papadopoulos and Roy Boulter; each partner brings a wealth of experience from highly successful individual writing and documentary careers. Both are multiple award winners and BAFTA nominees.

Hurricane Films' feature documentary 'Of Time and the City' – a ‘visual poem’ meditating on the director Terence Davies' relationship with his home city Liverpool – was selected and screened at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival to huge critical acclaim. The feature was subsequently named in Time Magazine’s top ten films of the year and also won the highly prestigious New York Critics Circle non-fiction film of the year 2009.

2014 saw Hurricane Films produce the Agyness Deyn and Peter Mullan starrer 'Sunset Song', a feature film adapted from the book of the same title. The film was shot on 65mm, directed again by Terence Davies and released into UK cinemas in 2015 with its World Premiere at Toronto Film Festival in 2015. The same year saw Hurricane shoot 'A Quiet Passion' in Massachusetts and Belgium starring Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle and Keith Carradine; a biopic of the great American poet Emily Dickinson. The film will be released in 2016.

Lockwood Publishing

Lockwood Publishing is a leading cross platform developer producing entertainment software for the mobile market. The company was founded in 2009 to focus on content production and publishing for the Sony PlayStation Home virtual environment delivering social spaces, games and virtual items for over 20 million players.

During the lifetime of PlayStation Home Lockwood was voted best developer by users for 5 consecutive years. The company is now focused on the Free to Play business model on mobile and tablet platforms. Avakin Life, the mobile virtual world social network, was launched in Autumn 2014 and has achieved over 12 million downloads to date.


Founded by Jacqueline J. Lam, Dainius Dulinskas and Jonas Simkus in 2014,  Mihaibao eliminates the friction and cost of buying genuine Western luxury and unique goods for Chinese consumers, and will revolutionise shopping by offering them the Western market in one place. Jacqueline says; “This is a market currently serviced by a huge army of parallel illegal grey-market “private shoppers” that is estimated to be worth over $15 billion on luxury goods alone in 2014. In China, low consumer trust in domestic goods and a growing middle class of nearly 340m people will further add supply pressures on neighbouring countries. Western merchants are eager to serve China but many do not understand the Chinese culture, shopping behaviour and trends, making China a high risk investment.”

After filling up too many suitcases with luxury handbags, beauty and food products when visiting family in China, Jacqueline became obsessed with fixing the supply and demand problem, scaling trust between the East and the West. “This ‘shop the West with one click’ accessing latest unique products with zero mark up, is a convenience and privilege non- existing to Chinese consumers pre-Mihaibao era. The team are confident that with the expertise on their board, they will deliver a revolutionary service for China and beyond, while legalising the grey market and changing the world’s perception from ‘Made In China’ to ‘Made For China’, forever,” as she puts it.

Shark Infested Custard

Shark Infested Custard is a very unique games development company, with an aim to help aspiring developers set up their own companies. Working in partnership with the Easter Enterprise Hub and supported by local authorities and Universities, SIC mentors and guides those at the studio through both games and business development. The studio’s free 10-month program is open to anyone with the drive and aspiration to become a world leading developer and is supported by experts from the world of games and business.


StashMetrics is a social media analytics tool designed to help brands build more relevant, engaging campaigns. The software uses social media data from a brand’s target audience to help marketers understand what makes the group unique and how to reach them effectively. 

Originally founded in 2014, the startup went through the Collider accelerator program before launching the first version of its software in March that year. During late 2014 and early 2015 StashMetrics established a successful beta involving customers ranging from Unilever to Havas media and built momentum towards its next funding round, which closed in September.


Thumbfood began in April 2014 when video games professional Simon Smith was made redundant one time too many and decided to go it alone. Within one month, Manchester City Football Club commissioned Thumbfood to make multiple games for the football club website and the studio has since been shortlisted for Venturefest, Fresh Digital/Northern SOHO, and TIGA awards.

In 2015 Thumbfood worked on more white-label projects for major clients and its own original IP prototypes, including ‘OddDog’ in collaboration with world-renowned film and TV model makers, Mackinnon and Saunders.

Treehouse Digital

Treehouse Digital is a production company specialising in high concept family entertainment. Founded by childhood friends, it is a ‘Story Laboratory’ that nurtures original ideas through each stage of production via the writer’s room, VFX studio, editorial and sound facilities in Bournemouth. From web videos to TV and film, the driving force behind every production is awesome narrative.

The Treehouse is a place of creativity and play where the team strives to find solutions to any obstacle using ‘old tricks with new tools’. Treehouse is passionate about telling stories across all platforms and in any format.

2016 Judges Panel

Karen Blackett OBC

Karen Blackett is the Chairwoman of MediaCom UK. 

Karen has featured in the 2008, 2010, 2013 & 2014 Power List as one of Britain’s 100 most influential black people. Most recently, Karen has spoken at the House of Commons for the Black Women Mean Business event, LSBC event and at the Voice of Women event as part of the organisation’s women as agents of social change programme, Management Today Inspiring Women conference as well as winning the WIM’s Outstanding Contribution to Marketing Award in 2013. In June 2014, Karen received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours for services to Media & Communications.

Rebecca Burn-Callander 
Representing our media partner, The Telegraph. 

Rebecca is the Enterprise Editor of The Telegraph. She specialises in writing about entrepreneurs, startups, small-and medium-sized enterprises and fast-growth businesses and has interviewed some of the biggest names in business from Richard Branson and James Dyson to Arianna Huffington and Raymond Blanc. Rebecca’s career spans a range of publications including Management Today, where she was formerly the web editor, and Real Business, where she was assistant editor. She was recently named one of Gorkana’s top 100 UK journalists to follow on Twitter.

Steve Hatch

Steve is Facebook’s first Regional Director for the UK & Ireland. 

Prior to joining Facebook, Steve worked in some  of the UK's most creative agencies, BMP DDB, Y&R and PHD, before finding his long-term home at the WPP media agency MEC. Under Steve’s management, MEC doubled in size and won many awards for its client work as well as Media Week, Campaign and Marketing Agency of the Year.  MEC is the first ever media agency to become IPA Effectiveness Agency of the Year and in 2013 was voted Media360’s Agency of the Decade. A passionate advocate of creativity and ideas, Steve's co-authored 'Rigorous Magic' in 2007 (published by Willey and Co).

Isaac Densu

Isaac is a commissioning editor for Channel 4’s digital Shorts content.

He is responsible for ordering original short form series for the broadcaster’s digital service, All 4. Channel 4’s Shorts span many genres and subjects, from lifestyle to future trends, gaming to comedy, as well as the simply bizarre! He also commissions advertiser funded Shorts, working closely with Channel 4 Sales’ Partnerships team, having recently commissioned Helluva  Tour in partnership with Fosters and What Not To Do with Scope starring Alex Brooker. Isaac was previously development producer at Little Dot Studios where he worked on long and short formats, including content for Channel 4’s Shorts. Before that he held various content and talent development roles at The Talent Channels JV Entrago and diverse independent production companies including Lemonade Money and Yalli Productions. 

Julie Richards

Julie is a strategy consultant for Deloitte.

She helps organisations in the technology, media & telecoms sectors to design their business strategies. She began her career as a journalist in Brussels working for Europolitics, where she covered EU affairs related to the media and telecoms sectors, as well as anti-trust issues facing the likes of Microsoft. She then spent several years working in B2B publishing in London before joining Deloitte’s advisory team in 2011. She now works with a range of media sector clients such as news agencies, newspapers and B2B publishers.                                                    

My Catalyst Moment

At Creative England, we take pride in our ability to connect big, recognised brands with the innovative new SMEs that are leading the way in the UK's thriving creative sector. 

With this in mind, we'll be inviting a selection of companies and entrepreneurs to share their 'Catalyst moment' in the lead up to CELive 2016. This could be anything, from deciding to start your business; taking the leap to change jobs, navigating a crucial pivot or a time of exponential growth. Perhaps its finally finishing that screenplay, completing your first successful day working on a film set or BETA testing your debut game. It could even be something unexpected, like making a useful connection, meeting an unlikely business partner or attending the right networking event. 

What's your Catalyst Moment?

New 'My Catalyst Moments' blogs will be added to this page over the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can share your own 'catalyst moment' with us on Twitter using the hashtag #CELive2016.

Speaker Bios

Click the tiles below to find out more about our guest speakers at CE Live 2016.


10.30–11.00 Delegate Registration

11.00–11.30 Welcome and Introduction

Delegates will have the opportunity to hear several important announcements by Creative England’s CEO Caroline Norbury.

11.30–11.45 Keynote: Karen Blackett OBE, Chairman of MediaCom

Be inspired by our keynote speaker, Karen Blackett OBE, Chairman of the UK's largest media agency, as she talks about her journey to success and what she’s learnt about the magic that happens when small guys and big business collide.

11.45–12.30 The Power Behind the Vision

Creative England introduces their Future Leaders, a top ten list of individuals and businesses chosen by a panel of industry experts for their highly innovative, supremely creative, and game-changing potential. The announcement will be followed by a lively panel discussion on how the new breed of small, creative disruptors are powering big businesses to fuel the growth of the Creative Economy. Panellist include Steve Hatch, UK Director of Facebook; Karen Blackett OBE, Chairman of MediaCom; Isaac Densu, Shorts Commissioning Editor at Channel 4; Andy Wafer, Creative England Future Leader 2015 and CEO of Pixel Toys.

12.30–12.45 Keynote: Ed Vaizey, Minster for Culture and the Digital Economy

The minister will be giving a keynote address to comment on this game changing potential and to talk about the Government’s vision for the creative industries in the UK.

12.45–13.00 Google Cultural Institute 

The Google Cultural Institute brings the world’s cultural treasures to new audiences through technology. Find out more about this exciting project with James Davis, Programme Manager at the Google Cultural Institute.

13.00–13.45 Networking Lunch

An unparalleled networking opportunity. Creative England Live offers the chance to network and learn from experts from the creative and digital industries.  

13.45–14.45 The Pitch: Starter for 50  

The afternoon kicks off with a live pitch session for aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses in growth mode seeking investments. This session will see three businesses pitch their elevator-pitch-style presentations on stage for the chance to win a £50,000 investment, voted for by the audience.  

14.45-15.15 Coffee Break

15.15-15.25   Starter for 50: The Results!

15.25–16.35 Company Showcase: Cross Sector Innovations

Please join Google for a lively discussion and more as we explore creation through innovation and how technology powers creativity. Hear from three businesses who are innovating to solve problems and discover the benefits the creative industries can bring to other sectors. Like what you see? You can talk to the exhibitors during our evening networking session. 

16.35–17.20 Panel Discussion: Stories About Place 

Join our panel of expert storytellers and be inspired by the power of regional creativity in film making and TV production, featuring ‘established and new voices’.

17.20–17.30 Close 

Thank you and closing comments from Creative England’s CEO Caroline Norbury.

17.30–19.00 Networking Drinks

Join us to toast our creative and digital industries with an evening of inspiration and celebration of the magic that happens when small and big companies collide. Oh, and a few drinks too!


'Creative England Live 2016: Catalyse' was a huge success. 

Throughout the day, we celebrated the wealth of talent and opportunity available in the UK's creative sector just days before the DCMS revealed that our Creative Industry is worth a staggering £84.1bn to the UK economy.

Many thanks to all who attended, took part and helped to make the day such a vivid and eclectic showcase for the amazing talent available in our country. 

Below, you'll find a selection of interviews and announcements revealed in the lead up to, and throughout, 'Creative England Live 2016: Catalyse'. Click here to view our photo gallery of the day's event.