Mon | Dec 17, 2018

Growth & Jobs | BOSS project to energise local animation studios

Published:Tuesday | August 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM

In recent years, Jamaica's animation sector has received recognition as an area with high potential for growth and increased contribution to the country's economic development. To boost the development of this screen-based industry and capitalise on this potential, Jampro, the World Bank, and the Youth Employment in the Digital and Animation Industries (YEDAI) Project in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) have joined forces to create and execute the Business of Sustainable Studios (BOSS) initiative.

The initiative aims to groom production studios and nurture creative entrepreneurs to grow their businesses into sustainable and profitable animation production entities, as well as to build the sector's capacity to take full advantage of the global animation and gaming industry. The global sector is worth US$242 billion based on 2016 figures and has a growth rate of six per cent per annum. The BOSS programme will provide business-enterprise skills and market access for local content creators to drive employability and entrepreneurship in the local market with a view to tapping into this growing global industry.

BOSS recommends a structured approach to targetting growth areas that have been identified in the local animation industry. The programme includes comprehensive master classes, workshops and seminars, all aimed at preparing 20 participants for attendance to select international and regional animation trade engagements, including strategic meetings.

Each participant will also receive executive mentorship from a dedicated business development consultant and access to a roster of international business mentors. Jampro, Jamaica's trade and investment promotion agency, will also use the opportunity to promote local animation studios for investment.

BOSS's ultimate goal is to drive labour demand and boost investments and exports for the animation industry. This is according to Jamaica's film commissioner, Renee Robinson, who explained that the opportunities include animation outsourcing, which is significant, owing to the many animation projects being produced outside of the countries where they are aired. Major outsourcing markets include the US, UK, Canada, France, South Korea, Ghana, South Africa, Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil.

Robinson said, "We designed the BOSS programme to target specific enterprise and market access interventions for local productions studios. On the one hand, we see a role in generating commercially viable local intellectual property and pursuing a value chain for screen-based companies that are building their products along those lines. On the other hand, there are significant global outsourcing opportunities to be pursued by local companies that have the infrastructure, workflow and human capital to scale up to meet the demands of larger international productions. Both models are covered within the BOSS programme."


.... 10 participants to be shortlisted


BOSS is currently shortlisting 10 participants for cohort 1, with plans to start in September 2018. For the investor sensitisation component of the project, BOSS partners have already identified select local financiers and investors to build co-ownership on the business viability and opportunities available in the animation and digital industry in Jamaica. Local investors will also benefit from peer-to-peer trade missions and strategic meetings with international film finance experts, who have succeeded in creative economy monetisation.

With enhanced business and technical capacity in the animation sector and raised interest through international marketing initiatives, the BOSS partners' hope is to realise animation's potential in Jamaica, facilitating contributions of up to US$20 million to the economy and creating at least 500 new jobs on an annual basis.The programme is scheduled to end on December 31, 2019, and will include two cohorts of 10 participating companies.

Jampro's president, Diane Edwards, noted that investors are critical to the growth of the industry, saying that while the Film Commission, which is located at Jampro's offices, has facilitated a total of 124 international film productions in the last financial year, resulting in the creation of 2,781 jobs for the sector, more local investment is needed to further expand the sector and create more permanent jobs and sustainable growth for local companies.

Edwards said, "We've struggled over the years to get buy-ins from local investors in the creative economy - for a myriad of very legitimate reasons. The investor track of the BOSS programme aims to overcome that by identifying a cohort of local financiers who are deeply engaged in the international best practices around asset valuation and assessment for creative products and services and some of the methods being employed by private equity and venture capital now towards monetisation in the creative economy. "

Appealing to investors, Renee Robinson said the creative industries should be explored as an excellent source of business opportunities and the BOSS programme would address some of the structural issues in the sector that may be concerns for investors. She said, "People are making money in the creative economy, so it's not that it can't be done - it's just that we need to shift our practices. After all, they don't call it 'show hobby', it's show business."