The Drum Network’s City Beat: The Drum Network now has member agencies in every major creative city in the UK. Gavin Sherratt, Managing Director of Studio Mashbo has grown up with the digital scene in Liverpool. He looks into how it has changed and the collaborative thinking that has grasped creatives in the city over recent years.
When I first started working in digital back in 1999 – when everything was the new frontier – there were a lot agencies working in silos, it was them against the world. But, as the sector has matured, we're seeing a more open-minded approach.
A lot of the original agencies have formed new agencies, with employees moving on to start their own businesses. This is how we started Studio Mashbo: myself, Steve and Liam were previously colleagues from our time at Rippleffect. The next generation of agencies are formed by designers and developers with a passion for creating great work and for practicing good business values. The city is producing some awesome work from agencies such as Tokyo Digital, Draw & Code, Uniform and Mando to name a few.
In the last couple of years Liverpool's digital and tech sector has sparked into life, with a blossoming scene of designers and developers creating world-class work. Applications, software, mobile web and games development are all covered. Alongside this we have seen a growing openness for collaboration, which is bridging gaps and bringing the city's creative talents closer together.
This has been highlighted with our Creative Kitchen concept which – starting life as a discussion of development and industry issues over breakfast with a few agency pals – has now grown to cover our Developer Breakfasts and knowledge-based events. The passion for knowledge and collaborative thinking will continue to grow in Liverpool. Our Creative Kitchen events are bringing agencies and talented individuals together, including those from surrounding areas in Cheshire and Manchester.
There are also industry-generated groups: people like Cleversteam have started their Ruby developer meet-ups and agency owners are now regularly meeting to discuss the city, sector and projects. The city also has its Kin2Kin network which helps with important support for the creative and digital sector. The power of these networks will continue to contribute to the sector feeding the local economy.
We have seen Liverpool highlighted as one of the UK's fastest growing digital and tech economies in the recent Tech CityUK report, creating new businesses and new employment. There is a buzz within the community and this is naturally feeding a friendly, respectful rivalry of shared success for the city's creative and digital firms. We're in a lucky place, Liverpool is buzzing and the positive vibes are opening doors globally.
If you had an unlimited budget to transform your city…
It would be amazing if the city was connected with ultra-fast, free-to-use municipal wi-fi. Every home could be issued with a tablet device and the city could look into digitising all council services, showcasing a serious digital culture shift, enabling us to be a truly effective smart city.
The Drum Network will be visiting Liverpool to host an event this summer, to find out more, click here.