Create Growth Programme
Helping businesses in England convert their creative potential into creative growth.
About the programme
The Create Growth Programme was launched in 2022 by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) in partnership with Innovate UK. Designed to support the development of creative industries with high-growth potential across England, outside of London.
Set to be completed in March 2025, this programme is a £17.5 million investment in the sector, with up to £7 million provided by Innovate UK. Eligible businesses in Create Growth regions can apply to Innovate UK for grants and investor partnerships.
The programme aims to drive innovation and investment in the sector. Through investor networks, connecting businesses across regions, building new supply chains, and creating pathways for future founders, creative businesses can explore new innovative projects that will stimulate growth and attract private investment.
Historically, the Creative Industries have struggled to obtain the necessary level of investment to grow and scale, in part due to investors’ limited understanding of the opportunities for investing in the sector. Investors generally look for scalability and defensible intellectual property (IP) which can be a challenge for creative businesses.
In addition, founders in creative businesses tend to be specialists in their discipline rather than in business, which leads to a broad lack of business skill and understanding. Finally, many smaller businesses aren’t static in terms of size and can have multiple or varied project and IP funding models, such as crowdfunding.
The competition is split into two phases: Grant Funding and Investor Partnerships. The first Grant Funding phase is now complete, offering a grant of £10,000-£30,000 for eligible project costs. The Investor Partnerships phase aims to address the ‘equity investment gap’ by encouraging highly innovative micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to attract investment that is aligned to early-stage research and development grant support. This will enable them to attract the necessary level of follow-on investment as they scale and grow.
Working with each region’s combined authorities, the programme offers targeted support to eligible businesses to help unlock their growth potential. Each region is delivering bespoke support that responds to the specific needs of their local creative businesses.
Innovate UK Business Connect are delivering investor focused activities, including networking and pitching events, mapping of current and potential investment in the sector, and resources to support the understanding of investment opportunities. We will be working with investors at a national and local level to better understand the investment opportunities in the creative industries.
The Create Growth Programme will deliver several direct outcomes and a lasting impact across the creative sector in England.
The collaboration between Investor Networks and Innovate UK will put capitol in to the regions through the competitions, help to leverage investor partnerships with creative businesses, whilst increased investor understanding of regional creative sector opportunities will sow the seeds for future investment beyond the programme.
By tailoring the support programme to meet the needs of the businesses, the programme will also create a stronger, growing and better-equipped creative sector. It will help to build meaningful relationships between founders and investors, driving increased regional investment to boost growth outside of London, and improve regional understanding of the broader creative network.
A regional approach
Delivered by teams in each of the regions, creative businesses with high-growth potential will be able to apply for support to help them prepare for investment and grow their business. Each region has its own distinct approach and bespoke programme, tailored to the businesses in its cohorts. Some regions specialise in certain sub sectors, whereas others pride themselves on a broad range of talent.
Regions were selected via an open competition run by the DCMS between July and September 2022. Each region is led by the local council, partnership or combined authority, and comprises several areas, towns and cities.
The first six chosen regions are:
- Greater Manchester
- East Anglia
- North East
- South West: West of England, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon
- South East
- East Midlands
The six recently added regions are:
Creative Catalyst 2024
Opens: 23/01/2024 Closes: 06/03/2024
UK registered micro or small businesses in the creative industries sector can apply for funding of up to £50,000 with a package of tailored support to grow their business.
Amplifying Imagination – AI in the Creative Industries
Opens: 19/02/2024 Closes: 25/03/2024
Companies in the creative industries using AI to deliver innovation-led growth in the West of England can win £50,000 to solve partners’ challenges.
Innovate UK innovation loans future economy: round 13
Opens: 11/01/2024 Closes: 06/03/2024
UK registered businesses can apply for loans for innovative projects with strong commercial potential to significantly improve the UK economy.
Find an investor
To take advantage of the Investor Partnerships opportunity creative businesses will need to establish a relationship and level of investment traction with one of the approved Innovate UK Investor Partners before applying for funding. If businesses have an established relationship with an investor that is not on this list they can apply to become an investor partner or approach one of the investor partners to discuss a co-investment.
Find an investor
The UK’s creative industries are world-class and represent a critical pillar of our economic success, both now and for the future. This programme accelerates the ambitions of creative businesses across the regions, enabling them to unlock their high-growth potential.
— Esra Kasapoglu, Director of Artificial Intelligence and Data Economy, Innovate UK
Invest in Creative
We are delivering investor focused activities, including networking and pitching events, mapping of current and potential investment in the sector, and resources to support the understanding of investment opportunities. We will be working with investors at a national and local level to better understand the investment opportunities in the creative industries. Investors can apply to become one of Innovate UK’s investor partners; the most recent process closed on 20 September 2023. Join the programme to hear about further selection processes and other opportunities.
Related Events and Recordings
DCMS Create Growth Fund: Competition 2 Briefing
10.00 - 12.00 | Online
Create Growth Programme: Investor Roundtable Events
12.30 - 16.30 | Multiple locations
Recording coming soon
Create Growth Programme Investor Office Hours
10.00 - 12.00 | Online
Creative Catalyst: AI in the Music Industry
10.00 - 12.00 | Online
Lunch & Learn Series Autumn 2023: Create Growth Programme - Investing in the Creative Industries Insights
12.00 - 13.00 | Online
Related Sectors and Networks
Our people have a deep expertise and work with a wide range of companies who are innovating and developing new technologies in sectors like Broadcast, Streaming and Film, VFX, Immersive and VR, Games, Live Events.Read more
Through our deep expertise, we can provide insight into emerging markets and technologies to help the investment community – from angels to corporate funds – make informed investments.Read more
Subscribe to the Creative Industries Newsletter
Keep on top of all the latest funding opportunities and events within the Creative Industries sector with our monthly newsletter.