There are a number of routes to funding for innovation that we can help you access. All of them require a collaborative approach and for that reason we strongly recommend that you become a member of the Creative, Digital & Design Community within the Knowledge Transfer Network - it's quick and free!
We're keen to keep up to date with all relevant funding calls in the Creative, Digital & Design sectors. If you're aware of any funding calls not on this page, please email Richard.Booth@ktn-uk.org
Keep up to date with funding opportunities...
Funding opportunities change quickly. Deadlines creep up and new competitions are regularly announced. We've developed three ways in which you can keep up to date with what's going on.
Creative, Digital and Design Newsletter: By registering as a Creative Industries Community KTN member, you'll automatically receive our twice-monthly newsletter, which includes information on upcoming and just-opened funding calls from Innovate UK and other bodies, both within the UK and Europe.
Creative, Digital & Design Business Briefing: A digest of useful information for creative industries businesses updated every month. The briefing highlights UK and European funding, support, events and training. Compiled by the KTN in partnership with Innovate UK, Catapults, Tech City, Nesta and Horizon2020.
1. Feasbility Studies/ Collaborative R&D funding competitions
These competitions, which fund from £5,000 - £10m per project to develop Feasibility Studies (shorter term) or Collaborative Research & Development (longer term), are open to all UK based companies. Some are also open to research organisations working with business. They are themed around a specific industry need.
The Knowledge Transfer Network often works with Innovate UK to promote these calls and partner on briefing and networking events around them.
Upcoming competition calls can be found on Innovate UK's website.
2. Smart Funding
The Smart scheme tackles the funding gap often experienced by many small and early-stage companies with innovative ideas and high growth ambition and potential.
It offers co-funding to UK-based pre-start-ups, start-ups, micro businesses and SMEs, to carry out science, engineering and technology R&D projects which could lead to successful new products, processes and services.
Smart helps companies assess potential markets, prove concepts and develop prototypes. By reducing financial risk, it aims to encourage SME investment, increase innovation capability, accelerate the commercialisation of new products and services, and contribute to economic growth.
The Smart programme is ‘always open' and is not restricted to projects in certain themes or sectors; offering funding to single, UK-based, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who have high growth ambition and potential, to engage in R&D projects from which successful new products, processes and services could emerge.
Three types of grant are available:
- Proof of market
- Proof of concept
- Development of prototype
Smart is "always open", however to manage the processing of these applications, Innovate UK assign them into batches for final assessment and funding, known as rounds.
For further details and how to apply please visit here.
3. Innovation Vouchers
What are Innovation Vouchers?
Innovate UK's national Innovation Voucher scheme is designed to help businesses gain the knowledge they need to innovate and grow.
An Innovation Voucher can help your business to work with an external expert for the first time by paying towards the cost of their services.
Innovate UK provides Innovation Vouchers for start-up, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to work with ‘knowledge suppliers' such as:
- universities and further education colleges
- research and technology organisations
- technical consultancies
- Catapult centres
- design advisers
- Intellectual Property advisers.
Innovation Vouchers will be available to businesses that are aiming to work on ideas applicable to one of our priority themes.
What will Innovate UK fund?
The Innovation Voucher can enable your business to access knowledge for all types of innovation – for example:
- ideas for new or improved products, processes and services
- using design to improve your ideas
- managing your Intellectual Property.
However, you need to be clear that accessing this knowledge will help your business address a real challenge, not just a small improvement or change to what you currently do.
Innovation Vouchers help you to obtain expert advice from a knowledge supplier you haven't worked with before, not to fund general business needs such as training or equipment.
For further details and information about how to apply please visit here.
Other UK Opportunities
1. Nesta Digital R & D Fund for the Arts
Project: This fund is a partnership between the Arts Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Nesta to support R&D projects that use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or explore new business models for organisations with arts projects.
Investment: £7 million for projects up to a value of £125k.
Participants: Arts, digital technology and research community.
Start Date: Now - 2014/15
Further information about the fund and how to apply is available here.
2. BFI Film Fund
The BFI operates the largest public film fund in the UK. Each year they invest over £26m of Lottery funds to support film development, production and distribution activity in the UK and the budget is set to rise to £30m by 2017.
- Feature film production, including international co-production and completion funding
- Feature film development, principally script development
- Talent development (including funding for short films) via the BFI NET.WORK
- Feature documentaries
- Production company slate development, via the Vision Awards
- Digital and cross-media activity
- Distribution of feature films in the UK
- International sales of UK feature films and other film export activities
- Applications can be made to the Film Fund at any time, and you should expect to receive an initial response from us within six to eight weeks.
Applications can be made to the Film Fund at any time, and you should expect to receive an initial response from within six to eight weeks.
Full details of how to make a Film Fund application available here.
3. Creative England - Film Production
Creative England is offering two strands of production funding.
Further details about both of these funds (including how to submit an expression of interest) available here.
4. Nesta Impact Investments
Project: Nesta primarily invests in social innovation, as the UK faces major social and economic challenges. Nesta is looking to make investments in ventures whose products aim to support one or more of the fund's target groups; the elderly, children, young people and self-sustaining communities.
Innovation and technology should be at the core of the product or service, and should be able to demonstrate reasonable and sustainable returns on capital. The project should be achieving, or have the potential to achieve, impact and public benefit in the UK by providing products or services that are inclusive, accessible and affordable. Ventures should be able to provide increasing depth and evidence of the contribution to the target groups and rigorously measure the on-going performance of the project. The approach must be scalable to meet a significant proportion of the need they address, and must have a strong management team to deliver results from ambitious plans.
Find out how to apply here. Investments: £150,000 - £1,000,000 Deadline: Ongoing
Funded by Arts Coucil England, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Nesta, the Arts Impact Fund is a new £7million initiative set up to demonstrate the potential for social investment in arts. It offers repayable finance to arts organisations working in England that can show how they are sustainable, have great artistic ambitions and have a positive impact on society in at least one of the following areas: citizenship & community, young people & educational attainment, health & wellbeing.
The Film Skills Fund (FSF) awards money grants to organisations to develop, facilitate and deliver film related training and development activities.
So far, the FSF has invested over £25 million in grants allocated through different funding schemes to tackle skill shortages identified by Creative Skillset's research programme and prioritised by the UK film industry in its Skills Strategy. The fund is divided into several funding schemes and programmes targeting different sections of the workforce and addressing different skill areas prioritised by Creative Skillset's research programme and through regular consultation with industry.
Although specific criteria and documentation apply to each of the programmes, Creative Skillset has made every effort to streamline and simplify processes.
London Business Angels (LBA) is one of Europe's leading Angel Investment Networks. LBA connect innovating fast growth technology companies to equity finance through their membership of experienced angel investors. Operating since the early 1980s, LBA has the longest track record in the business. Through carefully selecting only the most innovative companies to present to our investors, LBA achieve significant results: Since 2000 LBA has helped over 200 companies successfully raise over £50 million. Over the last 3 years nearly 40% of the companies selected to pitch to LBA's investors have secured funding, despite an uncertain economic climate. Whether you are an existing investor, would-be investor, or an entrepreneur looking for investment to grow your business, find out how working with LBA can help you achieve success.
8. PRS for Music Foundation
PRS for Music Foundation is a leading funder for music across all genres. Since March 2000 they have supported over 4,500 new music initiatives to the tune of over £16m. They do this through open grant schemes which are available to musicians and organisations four times per year. They also run partnership programmes in response to specific needs and gaps in funding.
You can find out here about their range of funding programmes which are open to apply to all year round - each with its own criteria for funding and application deadlines.
What is it?
Creative Industry Finance is an exciting new joint initiative between East London Small Business Centre & Arts Council England designed to help London's creative businesses develop and grow. Through the Creative Industry Finance programme you will receive:
1) Free, tailored and practical one-to-one business support from ELSBC's experienced creative sector business advisors (as well as mentoring from our other creative partners Arts Council England, UK Music and Crafts Council)
2) An opportunity to apply for a specialist creative industry loan of between £5,000 - £25,000 Creative Industry Finance is available to London based businesses who can show that creativity is at the heart of their business and have been trading for at least 6 months. In order to be considered for the programme, your business has to be from one of the following creative sector categories: Architecture, Crafts, Computer games, Design, Fashion, Film, Video, Music, Performing arts, Publishing / Literature, Computer software, TV, Radio and Visual arts.
If your business can meet the above eligibility criteria, then either email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.creativeindustryfinance.org.uk to complete a short online application form. Additionally, the East London Small Business Centre has a range of finance business loans including a specialized loan for entrepreneurs aged between 18-30.
The Horizon 2020 programme is the major funding opportunity for research and innovation initiatives across Europe running up until 2020. The size of the programme is considerable and in 2015 there is nearly 600 million Euros available. There is a strong emphasis in the programme on creative industries, design and digital technologies, and the KTN will be working to help make sure that UK creative businesses have a good awareness of specific funding calls as well as more general opportunities to do innovation work across Europe.
See our dedicated Horizon 2020 page for more information.