DCMS Create Growth Programme competition 2: investor partnership

UK registered creative SMEs in 12 specific English regions can apply for grant funding alongside private investment from selected investor partners to support growth.

Opportunity Details


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Your project’s total project costs must be between £100,000 and £750,000. The investment led by the investor partner must always be at least equal to the grant funding (i.e. grant funding can cover at most 50% of costs).


Innovate UK

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Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is to fund up to £6 million in innovation projects. This funding is from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Create Growth Programme.

This is the second funding competition for this government programme. The DCMS Create Growth Investor Partnership programme brings together:

  • Innovate UK’s expertise in identifying innovation and using grant funding to change the risk profile of businesses in the creative industries
  • Investor partners’ aligned funding and expertise in identifying opportunities and teams that can best use extra investment finance from across the twelve English Create Growth Programme Regions

This approach gives your business access to the investment it needs to develop and commercialise your innovations.

Innovate UK is working with selected investor partners. These partners have demonstrated that they have the credibility, capability, capacity and appetite to invest in the creative industries businesses that align with the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Create Growth Programme.

DCMS has appointed six regions in England as part of the Create Growth Programme. These regions are:

  • Greater Manchester
  • The West of England with Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
  • Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire
  • Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire
  • Kent, Essex, East and West Sussex
  • The North East of England

The regions have been expanded by DCMS (not yet detailed within the Create Growth Programme website). The new expansion regions are:

  • Nottingham City Council
  • Hull & East Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
  • West Midlands Combined Authority (CA)
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority (CA)
  • West of England Combined Authority (CA)
  • Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

Click here for details of contacts in each area.

The aim of this competition is to provide creative business with targeted support for innovations and access to investment to unlock their potential for growth.

Innovate UK provides support for your investment readiness and for engaging with suitable investors with Innovate UK KTN and the DCMS Create Growth Programme Regional Teams.

Before submitting an application, you must:

  • notify your local Create Growth Region of your intention to apply for this competition
  • establish a relationship and level of investment traction with one of our approved partners who can be found on Innovate UK Investor Partners, before you apply for funding
  • name your lead investor on the application

The investor partner must confirm with you that you are in a position to apply for grant funding; you will be asked to identify them in the application.

You must demonstrate your investment readiness and whether you are at seed, early or growth stage in terms of your ambitions and investment profile. This is in line with the Creative Industries Sector Vision.

To be successful, your project must be independently assessed by Innovate UK as fundable and receive aligned investment from the investor partner.

  • To apply your organisation must:

    • be a UK registered micro, small or medium sized business (SME)
    • be registered or operational in one of the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) Create Growth Programme appointed regions (see the expanded list of 12 regions above)
    • have a demonstrable ambition for growth
    • be from the creative industries and focused on one or more of the creative industries sub-sectors
    • have discussed and agreed your proposal with your investor partner before submitting your application
    • as part of your agreement with your investor partner, be able to raise the aligned finance needed to draw down the award through the issue of new shares or convertible debt

    You can only submit one application into this round of the competition.

  • Your project must:

    • have total project costs between £100,000 and £750,000
    • start by 1 June 2024
    • end by 28 February 2025
    • last between 6 and 8 months
    • carry out all of its project work in the UK
    • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
    • have an investor named on your application

    If you have not provided information on the investor partner who is leading on your investment or we are unable to confirm the investment position with that investor partner, then your application will not be eligible. Your application will then not be sent for assessment.

  • The aim of the competition is to provide creative business with targeted support for innovations and access to investment to unlock their potential for growth.

    Innovation and ideas can come from anyone and anywhere. We want to see investments unlocked for the diverse and extraordinary talent in the UK. We are encouraging diverse applicants and inclusive project applications, pushing beyond the status quo.

    Your project must have:

    • a clear route to market
    • a clear link to business growth
    • evidence that you can create a team to deliver your proposal

    You must demonstrate that your project will:

    • have significant market impact and support the growth plan of your business
    • be scalable
    • be able to start rapidly
    • demonstrate value for money
    • be attractive to other equity investors
  • The investor partnership programme will be focused on the creative industries. The creative industries are defined by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

    Your project must focus on one or more of the following sub-sectors:

    • advertising and marketing
    • architecture
    • crafts
    • design and designer fashion
    • film
    • television
    • video
    • radio
    • photography
    • IT, gaming, software and computer services
    • publishing
    • museums, galleries and libraries
    • music, performing and visual art

    Creative industry businesses refer to those with a high intensity of creative occupations. You can refer to the DCMS Economic Estimates for a list of the sub-sectors and their associated SIC codes, that DCMS classifies under the creative industries.

  • Innovate UK KTN held a competition briefing event on Friday 27 October: click here to watch the recording.

    If you would like help to find a project partner, please contact Innovate UK KTN’s Creative Industries team.


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