Opinion

6 British innovators review Prince William-backed Great Festival of Creativity in China

5 min read

04 March 2015

Former deputy editor

Having been opened by Prince William, the Great Festival of Creativity celebrating the UK's innovation in Shanghai has come to an end, and some of the British entrepreneurs in attendance have given their thoughts and feedback about how China and the UK can collaborate on business opportunities.

The Duke of Cambridge opened the government’s Great Festival of Creativity in Shanghai on 2 March, leading the campaign to inspire and educate the Chinese just how much innovation the UK has to offer.

In February, Real Business was invited to a preview tour in London to explore some of the country’s most inventive companies, one of which included Academy Award-winning creative studio Framestore.

Founder and creative director Mike McGee told us how the business grew from a four-person startup to a 1,000 employee-strong company working with Hollywood stars, and the skills that are required to join the team.

Read more from the tour here:

As the China-based event led by Prince William has now drawn to a close, a variety of entrepreneurs who were in attendance have offered their thoughts on what could come of a business union between China and the UK.

Technology

Alex Poulson, CEO of creative brand company, which includes robotics and virtual reality, INDE Appshaker, said: “For a product like ours, it is important that people can see it and be inside it. To have this platform is absolutely perfect for us and it’s opened up entire new industries that we’ve not previously been involved with. We’ve started several conversations about having a permanent partnership in China on the back of the past two days.”

Fragrances 

Having delivered interactive demonstrations of her products, Jo Malone, founder of Jo Loves, said: “We’ve all taken a step forward together and that’s been a very powerful message not only here in China but a powerful message to us being able to pull together. You can see that China wants to touch British creativity; it’s not just about trading together, it’s about creating together.

“UK creativity is one of our greatest assets and we have to utilise it and do more things like this. We all feed off one another so it’s not just about Chinese business, British business is being done here too and that’s a very powerful thing.”

Community

Lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman, also the co-founder of creative community the Founders Forum, said: “I think the festival has positioned the UK very well both as a heritage brand and a forward looking one. It’s shown the UK’s leading role in creativity has succeeded in putting us front of mind for many leading Chinese influencers.

“It’s been much more intimate than a large trade show. High-level government backing has been a tremendous help and I think we’ll see many other governments copying the trend that Britain is pioneering.”

Art

Howard Sansome, CEO of luxury artwork maker Aryma Marquetry, said: “As creators of bespoke products, connecting with individuals is crucial to the success of our business. The Great Festival of Creativity has given us a key avenue to people in China, so we can show the creative edge to our business and gain insights on how we can reach into this growing, dynamic market.”

Fashion

British tailoring company Gieves and Hawkes demonstrated its clothing business at the event, and bespoke cutter Richard Lawson, said: “It was unexpected but we’ve been able to meet up with other brands doing similar things to what we’re trying to do, finding out about the problems we share and the successes we’ve achieved independently.

“We’ve gained knowledge and experience on how to expand our presence in this marketplace and met fantastic people who will definitely be helping us grow our business in China.”

Media

Tim Davie, CEO, BBC Worldwide, said: “This festival has brought together creative people and business people from the UK, China and beyond, and I have been impressed by the level of enthusiasm to engage in future partnerships and projects. It has been a fantastic showcase for the best Britain has to offer.”