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London Fusion Case Study: Time/Image and C4CC

Authors: The Work Foundation Sarah Cole, co- director of Time/Image and resident at C4CC

23 January 2013

Last Wednesday (16 Jan) I had the privilege of speaking at the launch event of the exciting London Fusion project, designed to inspire new entrepreneurs.  I talked about the history of my company and how projects like London Fusion can help new SMEs to blossom.

Today I run a successful heritage asset consultancy – Time/Image. Yet in 2010 I was an unemployed graduate, sending out dozens of job applications every week, doing unpaid internships, and going nowhere fast. Eventually I got lucky, and managed to get onto a Future Jobs Fund placement. This government-funded scheme paid myself and five others to work part-time for six months at the British Council. Our task was to catalogue and digitise their near-forgotten 1940s film archive.

Expectations weren’t high for the project.  After all, we had no money for digitisation and it was just a bunch of old documentaries. Nonetheless, we developed an identity for the project – Time/Image – and got stuck in. It didn’t take long for us to realise what a treasure trove we were actually working with: a collection of over 120 dramatised documentaries, designed as wartime cultural propaganda for overseas audiences, seen by millions in over 100 countries, and kept in circulation until the 1960s as an English language teaching aid. Following a screening event in December 2010 that received national press coverage, we managed to secure funding from Google to digitise the full collection.

This changed things radically for us. The project now had a lifespan and scope way beyond the remaining two months of the placement. We needed our own office space to expand into, and we found this at the Centre for Creative Collaboration (C4CC) – a fantastic collaborative working environment that’s a partner in the London Fusion project. We also needed the infrastructure to continue working. Thus, when the placement ended in April 2011, we incorporated as a limited company and were hired as consultants by the British Council to carry on working on their film collection.

It’s now almost two years since we incorporated, and we’ve done a lot in that time. We launched the British Council Film Collection properly in May 2012 to an overwhelming media response, occupied a pop-up shop, become official partners in an AHRC archive-related research project, developed our own internal projects, expanded our services, and consulted with other archive-holding organisations.

We’ve also collaborated a lot, particularly with other SMEs that we’ve met at C4CC. Working at C4CC has had a huge impact on our company's development. Not only does it provide an office space we couldn’t otherwise afford, it  provides access to a diverse network of talented people – people who are willing to share their skills and knowledge. This encourages learning and ensures great support for new businesses; there are always people who will help you, either with business support or motivation. Plus, all conversations in this sort of environment generate new ideas – ideas that you perhaps wouldn’t have had otherwise.

In conclusion, being at C4CC has generated project ideas, work, and enthusiasm. That’s why it’s partnered with the London Fusion project – it’s about inspiring people to act on their ideas and helping businesses to grow to their full potential. This support has been invaluable to us, and I’m certain that the London Fusion project will inspire many more SMEs to succeed by supporting them in the same way.

The London Creative & Digital Fusion project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013 through the Greater London Authority.

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