UPstart project

Creative Spark: Higher Education Enterprise Programme is a five-year initiative to help develop the creative economy and enterprise skills across seven countries in Central Asia, (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan), South Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia) and Ukraine.

The programme has been developed in response to an underdeveloped creative sector and a demand for entrepreneurship training in these countries. Creative industries have driven economic growth in the UK. We want to use this experience and expertise to support sustainable development and social welfare.

Creative Spark is managed and funded by the British Council.


British Council Creative Spark project

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Our UPstart Creative Spark project has been designed and delivered with three strategic partners in Georgia: Tbilisi Academy of Arts, Creative Georgia and Creative Solution.


More recently, Georgia gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and experienced a turbulent transition to democracy over the following 12 years. Georgia now holds regular elections and has shown significant improvement in democratic processes in recent years.

UPstart project

British Council Creative Spark project



The first stage of our UPstart Creative Spark project ran from September 2018 – July 2019. The British Council facilitated a Creative Spark conference in Georgia in November 2018 which brought over 100 delegates together from the UK and all seven participating countries. The conference examined case studies and best practice in the teaching and development of entrepreneurship in Higher Education settings and how these models will be adapted and developed in each project.

The Creative Spark programme has three key aims:

  • To develop partnerships involving universities and creative institutions in the UK and programme countries to drive enterprise training and establish enterprise centres.

  • To deliver enterprise skills training packages to students and creative entrepreneurs - ranging from pitching ideas to starting a business and protecting intellectual property.

  • To deliver English language skills through a range of new British Council digital learning content. This will include digital learning platforms, online courses and a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) courses focused on English for entrepreneurship. 


We learned a great deal about how to develop and deliver “train-the-trainer” style programmes and especially how to overcome language and culture barriers in this process by working closely with local partners to help facilitate the process over and extended time frame.

We also learned a lot about how to reach wide and diverse audiences for entrepreneurship projects like this. We achieved this by working with a wide range of partners and networks; identifying and celebrating successful creative business founders as role models and ambassadors; developing and supporting a new Entrepreneur in Residence role; and using the power of social media to reach out to new audiences.

We made considerable efforts to teach staff and students using a blend of translation and translated materials and also the development of video materials that students find more accessible. However, we did not achieve everything we hoped for on the take up and use of English Learning tools and we have learned from this Many students at beginner level found it difficult to engage with content that is written in English, and we will adapt our approach in the future to use a wider range of accessible supporting materials and language teaching approaches.

Most importantly, we have learned that developing a more entrepreneurial mindset is the big issue both staff and students involved in this programme. Our work in Year 1 with the Academics, Readers, Trainers and other staff involved in the project has given us a much deeper understanding of the ways we can help develop a more entrepreneurial mindset with staff (through engagement with our Entrepreneur in Residence, special guest speakers, and the use of research and case studies) and students (through mentoring, coaching, training, events and curriculum development). We will build on this learning as we progress with this project from Year 2 onwards.


We supported colleagues at Tbilisi Academy of Arts in establishing a team of Academics, Readers and supporting staff to research and prepare new teaching materials – working towards our goal of establishing an Enterprise syllabus available to all students, tailored to each of the five Faculties at BA and MA levels. This team was led by Big Idea Challenge in a new role as Entrepreneur in Residence.


Advantage Creative chose to take part in this programme to support our aims - to be at the forefront of developing innovative and effective models that support creative entrepreneurs and start-ups.

We have developed considerable expertise and experience in delivering enterprise and entrepreneurship development projects and this project gave us the opportunity to share this with new partners.

Working with new partners in new settings, we also aim to further develop our expertise in enterprise development.



This Creative Spark UPstart project is just one of many enterprise and entrepreneurship development projects that we manage. If you would like to discuss how we can help you with similar project you can contact us here.

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