Creative Economies

Creative Economy Report 2014 – Main Findings

Based on data published by the Federal Office of Statistics this report summarizes the main findings concerning Switzerland’s creative industry and creative economy from the “Cluster-Report 2011–2013” by the Canton of Zurich, Department for Economic Affairs Office for Economy and Labour, published in April 2014.

Main findings – Switzerland’s creative industry and creative economy

Based on data published by the Federal Office of Statistics this report summarizes the main findings concerning Switzerland’s creative industry and creative economy from the “Cluster-Report 2011–2013” by the Canton of Zurich, Department for Economic Affairs Office for Economy and Labour, published in April 2014.

Established approach: the creative industry

ZHdK has been studying its graduates (and their careers) in the labour market for over ten years: this research is based on analysing the creative industry through different submarkets. These analyses satisfy a real need of diverse actors, not only from the fields of cultural policy and cultural promotion, but also from individual industry sectors.


Table 1: The creative industry as a sector- and submarket-related concept (Weckerle / Gerig / Söndermann 2007)

Such submarket analyses, for instance, enable the comprehensive study of the entire cultural sector (private, public, intermediary) within the context of cultural promotion and strategy development. Such specific data are also used to substantiate sector-specific lines of argumentation.

Graph 1: The three segments of the cultural sector: public, intermediary, private

New approach: the creative economy

Parallel to these developments, the boundaries between the public, private and intermediary sectors have long been blurred: actors of the cultural and art system are functioning increasingly in hybrid settings, which, in turn, are influenced by global trends.

A first crucial influence and change is globalisation. A second decisive influence on the cultural sector is digitisation. A third massive influence, particularisation, derives from these developments: Classical leading cultures, which traditionally consist of various social strata, are losing significance. They are being replaced by new audience structures, which are establishing themselves and constantly changing along community lines.

Main findings based on the “Cluster-Report 2011–2013”

Creativity for a stronger economy and quality of life

Zurich’s creative economy has emerged as substantial economic factor in recent years. It stands for compelling product design and effective marketing campaigns that generate added value for the other economic sectors. The lively cultural scene increases quality of life in the Zurich area as a whole. By exploring alternative, experimental spaces for new concepts, projects and business ideas, creatives prepare the ground for innovation.

Design becomes product – product becomes design

Young designers are often not equipped to turn their ideas into successful products. For design start-ups it is therefore important that they network with experts from other disciplines early on. Two new projects aim to close this gap: the Incubator at the Zurich University of the Arts offers individual support to students with entrepreneurial ambitions. The Design and Technology Lab connects designers and engineers with industry partners through shared projects.

Zurich is also a games city

With the combination of advanced research and innovative game designers, Zurich has become an internationally acclaimed hub for simulation technologies and computer game design. In autumn 2014 a game festival provided the scene with international stage for the first time.

The creative economy as a network of clusters

The discussion about creative “clusters” is taking place on a regional level (see e.g. the EU’s Cluster Institute, as well as in a local context (Creative Cities, Landry). Although creative clusters are differently defined depending on the context, they feature four frequently cited, descriptive elements (de Propris 2008; NESTA 2010):

  1. A Community of “creative people” who share an interest in novelty but not necessarily in the same subject.
  2. Catalysing place where people, ideas and talents can spark each other.
  3. An environment that offers diversity, stimulation and freedom of expression.
  4. A dense, open and ever-changing network of inter-personal exchanges that nurture individuals’ uniquness and identitiy.

Central to the current discussion are the terms “creative collocation” and “spillovers” and the following related questions: are there submarkets within the creative industries that develop in close spatial proximity due to their skills profiles or their markets? And are there measurable impacts of the creative economy on other economic sectors? A British study for example suggests that there seem to be notable relationships of exchange between the creative economy and knowledge intensive business services (NESTA 2010). Since these two fields are also prominently represented in Zurich, it is worth examining such relationships more closely in the local context.

Creative Economy Report 2016

In its new Creative Economy Report 2016, entitled From Creative Industries to Creative Economies the Zurich University of the Arts engages with the aspects discussed above on two levels:

  • For the first time in Switzerland the report statistically includes those creative actors that work outside the traditional submarkets of the cluster.
  • On the level of a model, the report includes further sectors besides the core creative industries: the so-called collocated industries. The new report therefore focuses on new the dimensions of coordinating processes that have emerged in the current approach and the increasing complexity of the field. In this constellation, “curator” in the sense of a broker, enabler and producer takes on a central role. Curators see the bigger picture in situations where the former linear chains of value creation have been disrupted, and they guarantee compatibility between the different actions and motivations that characterise the creative actors and the collocated industries.

The report is a project by CreativeEconomies, a venture of the Zurich University of the Arts, in collaboration with the RISE management innovation Lab of the University of St. Gallen and the Critical Thinking Initiative of the ETH Zurich. The project was directed by Christoph Weckerle (Head of the Department Cultural Analysis and Mediation at the Zurich University of the Arts) and realised in collaboration with Roman Page (Statistical Office of the City of Zurich) and management researcher Simon Grand (RISE).


Canton of Zurich (2014): Cluster Report 2011-2013. Industrial Diversity and Potential in Zurich. In: Website Creative Zurich, [20.12.2019].

Weckerle, Christoph / Gerig, Manfred / Söndermann, Michael (2008): Creative Industries Switzerland: Facts. Models. Culture. Basel: Birkhäuser Basel.