DECADES-OLD economic theories about inflation, exchange rates, savings no longer apply to the new economy, John Howkins, renowned as the father of the United Kingdom's creative industry, told a news conference yesterday.
Howkins, who is on his first visit to Shenzhen to attend the Third China (Shenzhen) International Cultural Industry Fair (ICIF), said while China's economy is primarily based on agriculture and manufacturing, a growing proportion of the population, especially in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, are living on their intelligence, imagination and ideas.
"The creative industry has a significant impact on the world economy today," he said.
"I've worked with writers, film directors and theater producers. I feel there is a common way of doing business with them. They are successful when they are having fun exploring their imaginations, their sense of beauty and fantasies about the future. They shape the future."
Howkins said the business environment is key to creative industry.
"In London and New York, there are cheap old buildings where designers, architects and other creative people can set up their businesses."
He was very frank when asked to comment on Shenzhen's innovation industry. "I don't know about the situation in Shenzhen," he said. However, he admitted that being young is a great asset. "Shenzhen is a young city, a place where people have the freedom to think, to imagine and to follow their own ideas. That's a great asset."
The role of the government, Howkins said, lies in leadership, mapping out the creative industry, and drawing up regulations to allow innovations to flourish.
"The Western nations emphasize intellectual property rights protection too much to the point they discourage sharing ideas. Developing nations need to find a balance between protection and widening access to people's imaginative works so that more creativity is inspired."
Though cities and nations are keen to compete with each other in the fields of creative industries, individuals are more likely to borrow from and build on other people's ideas.
"While London might be concerned about the competitive edge of New York and Shanghai, individuals collaborate more than they compete. Creativity goes around the world and takes whatever it takes," he said.
For Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Howkins thinks collaboration will be the key.
"In the next 40 years, the countryside between the two cities will be built up. In combination, the two will make an extraordinarily powerful metropolis," he envisioned.
Howkins is executive chairman of Tornado Productions Ltd., which provides webcasting to corporate and media clients. His interest in intellectual property policy springs from his experience in media, international governance and policy, and the creative economy.
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