Innovation economy: wealth embedded in ideas
(China IP)
Updated: 2010-12-03

Innovation economy: wealth embedded in ideas

John Howkins, Father of Innnovation Industry

---An Interview with John Howkins, Father of Innnovation Industry

John Howkins, father of the creative industry, advocator of “copyright as money for creative economy,” forerunner of digital media, and business and government consultant to more than 20 countries, once observed that creation was private subjective thinking, different from invention, which was objective, and a result of team work. “Creation frequently leads to invention, but invention would not necessarily bring about creation,” which delineated subtle distinction between the two.

John Howkins, is considered a master in the eyes of many successfuls in the creative business. 9 years ago his book The Creative Economy published in 2001, cautioned that the value of intangible assets created by humankind would eventually exceed that of our physical materials, and inventiveness and creativeness are the core competitive edge of a country’s social and economical development. Regarding this man, and his creative economy, many a story flows around. China IP conducted an exclusive interview with him on the discussion of topics such as his application of creative ideas, the relationship between creative economy and intellectual property, his suggestions on the application of creative theory in China and his understanding on the prospect of traditional media.

China IP: How does creativity turn to business profit? Could you share with us your successful creative industry management?

Mr. Howkins: Creativity is using one’s imagination to add value to an idea. For instance, I may have an idea for a film or a new design. I can develop it myself or work with other people. Usually, I need to work with other people who have special expertise, money, equipment, etc. In that way; I can build and develop my idea. Therefore, it has more value. In my TV/film business, I may buy an idea or a script for a small amount of money and sell it for much more. To be successful, we have to know the value of ideas and the market for ideas. For a creative economy to flourish, we need open an competitive markets. We need to be willing to take risks in spending money on good ideas.

China IP: What is the relationship between creative economy and intellectual property?

Mr. Howkins: IP is the basic currency of the creative economy. It is how people assert ownership, how they control the usage and how they set prices. It is very important for the industries, which require large investments. We have to accept that digital media are challenging the traditional views of ownership, control right and price. They are changing the whole concept of copying. One solution is to tighten IP that acted as a standard and have stronger enforcement. This will solve only part of the problem. We also have to re-think our business models. Content owners (rights-holders) have to devise new business models to take account of the realities of digital media.

China IP: Upon the exploitation of children’s thinking, you proposed three principles: imagination, creativity freedom and market. How does the copyright management influence those three elements?

Mr. Howkins: Everyone must continue to learn through their life. For this, we need access to knowledge. Therefore, copyright must allow access to knowledge. Sometimes, copyright management is too strict.

China IP: Is your creative economy concept applicable to China? If not exactly, which aspects need to be improved? Mr. Howkins: China is already using the principles of the creative economy in its domestic market. However, it could use them more successfully. In addition, it has not yet used these ideas for exports.

China IP: How do you think of the development of China’s creative industry? Once you mentioned that China’s creative industry lacks distinctiveness, to what does the distinctiveness refer?

Mr. Howkins: China is beginning to have a distinctive style. I mean that the Chinese are beginning to develop their own approach to contemporary creative industries. China has a very strong culture and heritage, but its contemporary style is not yet as distinctive as American, Japanese or Italian style. Chinese products sell more on their low cost than their creative inputs. The demand for Chinese media, fashion, etc, abroad is quite low. The majority of people want to watch American movies, buy Italian fashions, and drive European and American cars – not yet Chinese movies, fashion, and cars.

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