Creative industries are stimulated at a European, national and regional level. At a European level, some policy instruments are specifically geared at creative industries, think of Creative Europe. At a national level in the Netherlands creative industries is one of the nine so-called topsectors. As such, generic policy instruments have been developed for topsector policy, though not specifically for creative industries. At a regional level in the Netherlands, policy making towards creative industries varies. Some regions, such as the metropolitan area of Amsterdam have supported creative industries as a specific sector for many years. In other regions, more generic instruments were supportive.

Mark Rutte bezoekt de Dutch Game Garden in Utrecht.

Minister President Mark Rutte and Mark Dijk at the Dutch Game Garden

In Utrecht (the 4th largest city in the center of the Netherlands), creative industries have been stimulated for several years, with a focus on supporting games, and media and ICT. One of the spin-offs is the Dutch Game Garden, a hotbed for game entrepreneurs. Utrecht knows a diverse economy with many service organizations, e.g. banks, ICT companies, and care organizations.

U Create

U Create

Another recent regional initiative has been the development of the center of expertise U Create (source: This center of expertise aims at the cross-over between creative industries and health and well-being. U Create is a public-private partnership between two applied universities HU and HKU, the University Medical Center Utrecht UMCU, and private organizations such as Rabobank and ICT company Ordina.

U Create is also partner in the national platform Create Health, an initiative of the topsectors creative industries and life sciences and health. This collaboration has already resulted in a first joint national research program. This program aims at enabling people to stay at home with a (chronic) disease, such as dementia.

In the cross-over between creative industries and health and well-being, U Create moves from ‘Efficiency and Effectivity’ in the health and well-being sector to ‘Empathy and Emotion’. This is where creative industries can add value. Next to efficient and effective operations and organizations, people often forget about the patient, who should instead be placed central. What are the needs of a patient? What does the patient him- or herself experience? How to create a ‘customer/patient journey’ in a hospital environment? This is being illustrated in the following project example about children with cancer.


Participative design in pediatric oncology (source:

In order to increase the changes of surviving cancer and improve the quality of life during treatments, it is very important that patients exercise and have a healthy diet. This is often problematic and may result instead in an increase in fat mass and a decrease in muscle mass . The central question in this project was how to stimulate children with cancer to exercise and follow a healthy diet?

Professionals often lack knowledge or validated interventions to especially stimulate  young patients. Within this project, existing knowledge about health, behavior and design are being combined. Different interventions have been developed with the help of participative design methods. With techniques where children could make use for instance of a diary, photos or pictures, all participants could communicate with each other about applicability and support for possible solutions without technical jargon or emotional barriers.


These type of projects is where U Create can add value, amongst others by stimulating applied research and innovation projects where creatives work together with organizations in cure, care or prevention. U Create functions as a committed ‘connector’ for students and start-ups, private organizations, research organizations, and organizations in the health and well-being sector. With its funding possibilities, a strong knowledge base and a network in both worlds, U Create can make strong links between creative industries and health and well-being. What started as a regional initiative, now also has a growing national impact and even an international ambition by promoting Dutch Health Design.


This post was contributed to our blog by FRITS GROTENHUIS