Innovation boosts productivity by two-thirds

Innovation is an essential driver for regional economic growth and a new national report has revealed how significant it can be in closing the productivity gap.

Two thirds of private sector productivity growth between 2000 and 2007 was driven by innovation, claims a new report by NESTA.

The findings are revealed in The Innovation Index: Measuring the UK’s investment in innovation and its effects (PDF, 1.59mb), the most ambitious attempt yet to measure the contribution of innovation to the UK’s economic growth.

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Research suggests mounting problems for gaming firms

NESTA’s recent report It’s Time to Play suggests the UK video games sector faces ‘serious and mounting problems’ as a result of a variety of factors including the emerging trend for experienced staff to leave the UK in favour of competitor countries where government support is strong.

The report, based on a survey of 30 leading British video games developers, suggests widespread support among respondents for introduction of tax credit for cultural games.

Research in this field carries a particular relevance to the West Midlands which is host to 19% of the UK’s gaming workforce (Burns Owens Partnership, 2007) and a cluster of high profile game developers including Codemasters, Blitz, Freestyle Games and the Serious Games Institute.

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West Midlands residents’ engagement in the arts remained stable since 2005

A new briefing (pdf, 241kb) published by Arts Council England uses Taking Part survey data to examine the trends in arts engagement across the three year period from 2005/06 to 2007/08.

In the West Midlands, the proportion of population to have attended at least one arts event over a 12 month period has remained stable, with no statistically significant difference in the level of attendees in 2007/08 (64.7%) to that of previous years.

There was, however, a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of West Midlands residents to have participated in arts activities in 2007/08 (42.4%) compared to the 2006/07 rate (46.9%).

Nationally, the rate of arts attendance and arts participation remained stable at around 67% and 47% respectively. Continue reading

Volunteers in West Midlands museums and galleries outnumber paid employees by more than 2:1

Forthcoming research from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council will highlight the abundance of volunteers working within local museums and galleries.

Given the increasing interest in the role of volunteering can play in keeping people ‘job ready’ during the recession, this finding may well attract interest from beyond the heritage sector.

Along with a detailed look at the profile of the workforce, Fast Forward 2008 will provide an update on a range of variables, including levels of visiting and average service standards (disability access, audience development, and so on) within West Midlands museums.

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Adults who live in areas with higher concentrations of historic environment are likely to have a stronger sense of place

Research launched by English Heritage has found a significant link between an adult’s ‘sense of place’ and the concentration of historic environment assets within their area.

Sense of Place and Social Capital and the Historic Built Environment (pdf, 884kb), launched simultaneously with Heritage Counts 2009, involved surveys with 500 adults and 700 teenagers from across England.

Respondents were asked to score how strongly they agreed with a series of statements such as ‘I could be equally happy living elsewhere’ and ‘I am proud of where I live.’

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Large variation in West Midlanders’ satisfaction with local theatres and concert halls

According to the first ever Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) Place Survey results, the proportion of West Midlands residents satisfied with theatres and concert halls is the most variable indicator across the region, ranging from 76% in Malvern Hills to a low of 18% in North Warwickshire.

However, overall satisfaction with theatres and concert halls in the region (45%) exceeded the national average (43%).

In addition, compared to all other regions, West Midlands residents were the least satisfied with local sport and leisure facilities.

These two results, which carry implications for some of the region’s local cultural service providers, were highlighted as headline findings by colleagues at the West Midlands Regional Observatory as part of their detailed Place Survey 2008 analysis.

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BIG research quantifies the benefits of investment in sports facilities

Research into the impact of the Big Lottery-funded New Opportunities for PE and Sport programme (NOPES) has captured valuable information about some of the benefits of investment in sport.

The research (PDF, 452kb), which included a survey with nearly 2,000 young people, sought to quantify the impact of NOPES, which involved a £751 million investment in PE and sport facilities and activities across the UK (2002-2009).

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