This article references ongoing research undertaken by Cockpit Arts, with a focus on the findings from Raising the Bar – a study of growth trends among Cockpit Arts studio holders and the impact of incubation on their development (Cockpit Arts 2009). The research project
reflects Cockpit Arts' interest in raising aspirations for improved profitability and success in the craft sector and in highlighting the role that incubation can play. The article first outlines the aims and context of the project, the research methodology employed and some of its limitations.
This is followed by a summary of the key findings, headlined by the fact that craft businesses at Cockpit Arts are experiencing significant business growth, despite a tough economic climate. The evidence highlights a number of key drivers contributing to this growth including craft discipline,
age of business, product innovation, market diversification beyond the UK contemporary craft market, successfully outsourcing manufacture and exploitation of intellectual property through licensing. The article continues by exploring some of the barriers and challenges facing makers today
in terms of business growth and sustainability. Incubation is shown to contribute to business growth through the mechanisms of strategic planning supported by one to one coaching and access to finance in particular. The research shows, however, that no set business model or combination of
incubator services can guarantee business development or growth. One size does not fit all. To conclude, I argue that while measuring the impact of incubation is challenging, it can play a significant role in craft sector development. In particular, I make the case for an approach that focuses
on the development of the owner-manager in order that they can exploit their creativity in the most effective, sustainable and profitable way.
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