The Great South Coast Creative & Digital Economy Survey*

*admittedly this is a really bad title but it does clearly outline what this article is going to be about…

Way back in the dim and distant past, in a bygone era when #Brexit was a nonsense word and Trump was a nonsense man (actually #Brexit is still a nonsense word and Trump is still a nonsense man, but the implications of both are far from nonsense), I undertook a survey of the creative economy of Dorset.

The intention was to try and visually represent an exciting, growing community; to create a useful tool that would enable the businesses and the community to celebrate their strength and success. That was back in 2012 and the above infographic was produced. It shows the age, size (in numbers of employees) and specialisms of 100 agencies.

It was neither scientific nor comprehensive. No one had asked me to do it, indeed it was done on a whim but the result was rather interesting. So interesting in fact that I repeated the exercise in 2013.

(Click here to see the results of the 2013 survey)

Whilst still not very scientific, 2013’s survey was much more comprehensive because of 200 creative & digital agencies responded, which meant that the information we were able to share was quite illuminating. For the first time a community of creative agencies were able to benchmark themselves against one another, were able to find potential collaborators and the local public sector, the councils and universities, were able to see for the first time the shape and size of this important sector. It quite literally put the businesses who responded on the map.

The survey was undertaken twice more, in 2014 and 2015, and the results were used to create an interactive map, available to all online — albeit no longer available as the website upon which it was hosted is no longer around (thankfully the survey results, the core data still exists, it just doesn’t look very attractive).

Four years and four infographics. A lot of data and a lot to celebrate. It was as a result of these survey’s that Bournemouth featured in the very first Tech Nation report as the UK’s Fastest Growing Digital Hub, an accolade that focused the eyes of the country on the area and almost certainly led to an increase in investment into the area and the number of businesses being born here growing.

It’s been three years since the last survey took place.
That’s three years of change, of growth and of development.
Three years of new creative shops opening up, exciting start-ups emerging and existing agencies growing, buying and selling up.
It’s safe to say the landscape has changed quite considerably in the past three years and it might be quite interesting to see what that change looks like, especially when compared with the date from the past.

So I’m relaunching the survey (click here and you can take it).

Throughout January and early February, I’ll be collecting some fairly innocuous data (again, click here to take the survey) and in March I shall publish the results for all to see.

I’m expanding the search to include the whole South Coast too. The Tech Nation report highlighted some interesting things going on in and around Southampton and there’s some exciting things happening in Portsmouth as well. So I thought it might be interesting to see what the landscape looks like from Bournemouth in the West, to Portsmouth in the East and Winchester to the North.

The more businesses who respond, the better the data. The better the data, the better the picture we can paint. The better the picture we can paint, the more useful it is. The more use it is, the better it is for us all.

C’mon, it’s been three years since this was done. Aren’t you just a little bit curious to see what the landscape looks like now?

*I promise all the data collected will be treated with the utmost care.

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