Funding competition DCMS Create Growth Programme Competition 3

UK registered micro, small and medium enterprises in the creative sector can apply for funding of between £10,000 and £30,000 for innovation projects to grow their business. This funding is from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

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Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is to invest approximately £3 million in innovation projects in the creative sector.

This funding is from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Create Growth Programme and has a regional focus across 12 regions.

The six original regions identified for the programme by DCMS are:

  • Greater Manchester
  • Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire
  • North East of England
  • West of England and Cornwall
  • South East Coast
  • Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Greater Lincolnshire

DCMS has expanded the regions since the launch of the programme and now includes:

  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
  • Hull & East Yorkshire
  • West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire
  • Devon
  • Hertfordshire

The six expansion regions are eligible for the Create Growth Programme although are not detailed within the Create Growth Programme website.

The programme support package will comprise of three complementary strands:

  • business support targeted at the creative industries
  • finance
  • investor capacity building activities

The aim of this competition is to provide a package of targeted support to high-growth creative businesses to scale, build investor networks and reach their potential. This funding is designed to help creative businesses explore new innovation projects as a stimulus for growth.

Your proposal must:

  • be from the creative industries
  • be from a micro, small or medium size enterprise registered in a DCMS Create Growth Programme region
  • focus on a clear growth opportunity and the proposed innovation to address it
  • demonstrate the impact funding and support can have on the growth plan of your business
  • engage with the regional support if your application is successful

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition has a funding limit, so we may not be able to fund all the proposed projects. It may be the case that your project scores highly but we are still unable to fund it.

This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated in this Innovate UK competition brief. We cannot guarantee other government or third party sites will always show the correct competition information.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Your project’s grant funding request must be between £10,000 and £30,000.

Accessibility and Inclusion

We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and are committed to making our application process accessible to everyone. This includes making reasonable adjustments, for people who have a disability or a long-term condition and face barriers applying to us.

You can contact us at any time to ask for guidance.

We recommend you contact us at least 15 working days before this competition’s closing date to allow us to put the most suitable support in place. The support we can provide may be limited if you contact us close to the competition deadline.

You can contact Innovate UK by email or call 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm UK time, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Who can apply

Text update 23 May 2024: We have removed the option of being able to use overseas subcontractors as this competition needs to have UK subcontractors.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have a total grant funding request of between £10,000 and £30,000
  • last between three and five months
  • start by 1 Nov 2024
  • end by 31 March 2025
  • carry out all its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Projects must always start on the first of the month and this must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

You will be made ineligible if you exceed the Minimal Financial Assistance limit. You must submit a complete declaration as part of your application.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered micro, small or medium size enterprise (SME)
  • be registered or operational in one of the twelve Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) Create Growth Programme appointed regions
  • not currently be in receipt of public funding for business growth
  • have a demonstrable ambition for growth
  • be from the creative industries and focused on one or more of the creative industries sub-sectors

The six original regions in England appointed by the DCMS Create Growth Programme are:

  • Greater Manchester
  • Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire
  • North East of England
  • West of England and Cornwall
  • South East Coast
  • Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Greater Lincolnshire

The six expansion regions are:

  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
  • Hull & East Yorkshire
  • West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire
  • Devon
  • Hertfordshire

You can check your local council with your post code: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council.

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

We expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

You can only apply for this competition once.

Use of animals in research and innovation

Innovate UK expects and supports the provision and safeguarding of welfare standards for animals used in research and innovation, according to best practice and up to date guidance.

Applicants must ensure that all of the proposed work within projects, both that in the UK and internationally, will comply with the UKRI guidance on the use of animals in research and innovation.

Any projects selected for funding which involve animals will be asked to provide additional information on welfare and ethical considerations, as well as compliance with any relevant legislation as part of the project start-up process. This information will be reviewed before an award is made.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

You can make a maximum of two submissions to Innovate UK with any given proposal. If Innovate UK judges that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be counted towards this maximum.

If your application goes through to assessment and is unsuccessful, you can reapply with the same proposal once more.

We will not award you funding if you have:

Minimal Financial Assistance (and De minimis where applicable)

Grant funding in this competition is awarded as Minimal Financial assistance (MFA). This allows public bodies to award up to £315,000 to an enterprise in a 3-year rolling financial period.

In your application, you will be asked to declare previous funding received by you. This will form part of the financial checks ahead of Innovate UK making a formal grant offer.

To establish your eligibility, we need to check that our support added to the amount you have previously received does not exceed the limit of £315,000 in the ‘applicable period’.

The applicable period is made up of:

(a) the elapsed part of the current financial year, and

(b) the two financial years immediately preceding the current financial year.

You must include any funding which you have received during the applicable period under:

You do not need to include aid or subsidies which have been granted on a different basis, for example, an aid award granted under the General Block Exemption Regulation.

Further information about the Subsidy Control Act 2022 requirements can be found in the Subsidy Control Act 2022 (legislation.gov.uk)

EU Commission rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see the Windsor Framework to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

Further information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the Subsidy Control Act 2022, you should take independent legal advice. We cannot advise on individual eligibility or your legal obligations.

Funding

We have allocated approximately £3 million to fund growth focused innovation projects in this competition.

You can claim 100% of your eligible project costs up to the maximum of £30,000. The total project costs detailed within your application and your grant request must match. Costs outside the minimum and maximum limits will be deemed ineligible.

If successful, your grant will be released in instalments:

  • your total grant request minus £5,000, will be paid on the return of your signed grant offer letter, this can be in advance of your project start date
  • the remaining £5,000 of your grant request will be paid at the end of the project, on receipt and approval of a statement of expenditure (SOE)

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the Company accounts guidance.

If you are applying for an award funded under European Commission Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to provide a package of targeted support to high growth creative businesses, to scale, build investor networks and reach their potential. This funding is designed to help creative businesses explore new innovation projects as a stimulus for growth.

The funding is for twelve regions in England appointed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) Create Growth Programme.

The twelve regions are:

  • Greater Manchester
  • Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire
  • North East of England
  • West of England and Cornwall
  • South East Coast
  • Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Greater Lincolnshire
  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
  • Hull & East Yorkshire
  • West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire
  • Devon
  • Hertfordshire

Your proposal must:

  • be from the creative industries
  • be by a micro, small or medium enterprise registered or operational in a DCMS Create Growth Programme region
  • focus on a clear growth opportunity and the proposed innovation to address it
  • demonstrate the impact funding and support can have on the growth plan of your business
  • engage with the regional support if your application is successful

Your project must:

  • offer an innovative and ambitious idea which demonstrates a clear growth opportunity
  • be new to your business
  • have a demonstrable impact to your growth plan, for example, start the process of creating a new revenue stream, such as new products, services or intellectual property (IP)
  • demonstrate a route to commercialisation within 12 months of receiving support with a clear plan for attracting additional private finance
  • benefit the wider creative cluster or region in England you are based in
  • be able to start rapidly
  • demonstrate value for money

Portfolio approach

We want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories We call this a portfolio approach.

The aim of this competition is to fund a variety of projects across the different creative sub-sectors from each of the DCMS Create Growth appointed regions.

Specific themes

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.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects:

  • that support business as usual (BAU) activities
  • that are currently in the receipt of public funding for business growth
  • without evidence the proposed innovation will lead to business growth
  • that do not address how potentially negative outcomes will be considered, for example, on the environment
  • without innovation, for example, the creation of information-only websites
  • that sit outside of the creative industries
  • that sit outside of the 12 identified regions

We cannot fund projects that:

  • involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • involve primary production in agriculture
  • have activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • are not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are not eligible to receive Minimal Financial Assistance
  • are dependent on export performance, for example, giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example, if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product

7 May 2024
Competition opens
10 May 2024
Online briefing event: Join at 10am
19 June 2024 11:00am
Competition closes
29 July 2024
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

Before submitting, it is the lead applicant’s responsibility to make sure:

  • that all the information provided in the application is correct
  • your proposal meets the eligibility and scope criteria
  • all sections of the application are marked as complete

You can reopen your application once submitted, up until the competition deadline. You must resubmit the application before the competition deadline.

What we ask you

The application is split into three sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

Accessibility and Inclusion

We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and are committed to making our application process accessible to everyone. This includes making reasonable adjustments, for people who have a disability or a long-term condition and face barriers applying to us.

You can contact us at any time to ask for guidance.

We recommend you contact us at least 15 working days before this competition’s closing date to allow us to put the most suitable support in place. The support we can provide may be limited if you contact us close to the competition deadline.

You can contact Innovate UK by email or call 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm UK time, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

1. Project details

This section provides background for your application and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which people from your organisation will work with you on the project and invite those people to help complete the application.

Application details

Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope, it will not be eligible for funding.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers for questions 8 to 11. You will receive feedback for each scored question. Find out more about how our assessors assess and how we select applications for funding.

You must answer all questions. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name and full registered address of your organisation and any subcontractors working on your project.

Your organisation must be registered or operational in one of the twelve Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Create Growth Programme appointed regions.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 2. Appointed Create Growth Programme Region (not scored)

Only businesses registered or operational within the Create Growth Programme appointed regions are eligible to apply for this competition.

Please select one the following twelve regions in which your organisation is registered or operational.

The twelve regions are:

  • Greater Manchester
  • Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire
  • North East of England
  • West of England and Cornwall
  • South East Coast
  • Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Greater Lincolnshire
  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
  • Hull & East Yorkshire
  • West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire
  • Devon
  • Hertfordshire

You can check your local council with your post code: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council.

Question 3. Primary sub-sector (not scored)

Select which primary sub-sector your organisation focuses on:

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

Question 4. Minimal Financial Assistance declaration (not scored)

You must download the declaration template. You must complete this, declaring any funding received under Minimal Financial Assistance (previously referred to as Special Drawing Rights) or De minimis awards, (from any source of public funding) in the applicable period.

You must complete all the fields on your form before uploading.

You must write “declaration attached” in the question text box.

You must upload the completed declaration as an appendix. It must be a PDF and the font must be legible at 100% zoom.

You must keep all documentation relating to Minimal Financial Assistance (previously referred to as Special Drawing Rights) and other De minimis awards for a period of 6 years and be prepared to release it to any public funding body which requests it.

Question 5. Animal testing (not scored)

Will your project involve any trials with animals or animal testing?

You must select one option:

  • Yes
  • No

We will only support innovation projects conducted to the highest standards of animal welfare.

Further information for proposals involving animal testing is available at the UKRI Good Research Hub and NC3R’s animal welfare guidance.

Question 6. Permits and licences (not scored)

Will you have the correct permits and licences in place to carry out your project?

We are unable to fund projects who do not have the correct permits or licences in place by your project start date.

You must select one option:

  • Yes
  • No
  • In process of being applied for
  • Not applicable

Question 7. Video describing or showing your proposal (not scored)

You must provide a video to describe or show your proposal and upload it to a password-protected page on YouTube or Vimeo before the competition closes.

You must provide a link and password to access your video as your answer to this question.

In your video, tell us:

  • the problem your innovation will solve
  • your solution
  • your market
  • why you are best placed to solve it
  • include any additional information about you, or your team, your project that will help to strengthen your application

Your video must be:

  • no longer than two minutes
  • ‘unlisted’ in your privacy settings
  • available for us to view until 24 July 2024

If your video response for a question is over two minutes long, only the first two minutes will be viewed.

Your video may be marked as ineligible if:

  • we cannot view your video
  • it is hosted on a platform other than YouTube or Vimeo

You can find more information on how to create an unlisted video on YouTube and Vimeo.

Check that your video can be opened with the link and any passwords and that it can be played before completing your submission.

Your video will be considered together with the responses you give in the other application questions. The assessors will review the content of your video not the quality.

If you cannot upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo, you must contact support@iuk.ukri.org at least 10 working days before the competition closes for advice.

Question 8. The project (scored out of 30)

What is the project you intend to undertake?

Describe in your answer:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the outputs of the project in terms of specific deliverables and where will you have moved your business from and to
  • any previous technical and business planning work you have conducted in relation to your proposed project
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 9. Impact and added value (scored out of 30).

Demonstrate the expected impact this funding will have on your business within the first 12 months.

Explain:

  • how your business is going to scale or grow from the innovation
  • how it will support your business in becoming investment ready
  • why public money is necessary for your project, for example, there is a lack of private investment or market failure
  • any expected impacts at a regional, creative industries or creative industries sub-sectors level
  • the wider impacts on society, the economy, the environment and any potential negative impacts

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 10. Business planning and resources (scored out of 20)

Who is in the team and what is your capability to deliver a solution?

Describe:

  • what combination of resources, equipment or facilities you need to access
  • the main people involved, including their roles and responsibilities and relevant track records
  • the details of any vital external parties, including subcontractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • your capability to deliver in the required timeframe given your existing business activities and constraints.
  • how you will deliver outcomes and impact beyond the life of the project

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 11. Project plan, risks and costs (scored out of 20).

What will you do with the grant funding? How will you manage the project effectively, and the risks appropriately?

Explain:

  • how your funding will be spent over the life of the project
  • the main work packages of your project, indicating who is assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • the main risks, interdependencies, impact, and mitigation strategy, paying particular attention to how you will mitigate project delivery risks with your immediate and extended team, for example, subcontractors
  • how best value for money has been decided

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 1 A4 page long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

You can submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer detailing main work packages, specific milestones and project management. It must be a PDF, up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application.

Your projects total grant funding request must not exceed the maximum of £30,000. If your grant funding request does exceed this maximum, then your application will be made ineligible.

You can make reference to any additional voluntary contribution in your application question answers but these must not be detailed in this finance section.

For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance. You can also view our Application Finances video.

4. Project Impact

This section is not scored but will provide background to your project.

Each partner must complete the Project Impact questions before being able to submit the application.

More information can be found in our Project Impact guidance and by viewing our Impact Management Framework video.

Innovate UK complies with the requirements of UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, and is committed to upholding data protection legislation, and protecting your information in accordance with data protection principles.

Background and further information

Support from your local Create Growth Region

If your application is selected, you must contact your regional support. Their contact details will be included in your grant offer letter. They can signpost you to additional support and services both local and national that form part of the wider Create Growth Programme.

Successful applications will receive a grant offer letter and must start their project on or before the project start date indicated.

This competition is the third round of the DCMS Create Growth Programme.

Contact details for the Creative Growth Programme regions:

Evaluation survey

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have commissioned an evaluation of the Create Growth Programme to understand whether or not it is having the intended impacts. A vital component in this evaluation is understanding how organisations such as yourself are faring, and how this is changing over time.

Please follow this link to complete a short survey that will provide key evidence for the evaluation:

https://forms.office.com/e/5kN8Cay94t

The information you provide is not part of your application for funding nor will it affect the outcome of the competition.

It is only with your help that future government support can be appropriately designed.

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) (each an ‘agency’).

Any relevant information submitted and produced during the application process concerning your application can be shared by one agency with the other, for its individual storage, processing and use.

This means that any information given to or generated by Innovate UK in respect of your application may be passed on to DCMS and vice versa. This would include, but is not restricted to:

  • the information stated on the application, including the personal details of all applicants
  • scoring and feedback on the application
  • information received during the management and administration of the grant, such as Monitoring Officer reports and Independent Accountant Reports

Innovate UK and DCMS are directly accountable to you for their holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. Data is held in accordance with their own policies. Accordingly, Innovate UK, and DCMS will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application.

Innovate UK’s Privacy Policy

Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Privacy Policy

Innovate UK complies with the requirements of UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, and is committed to upholding data protection legislation, and protecting your information in accordance with data protection principles.

The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.

Find a project partner

If you want help to find a project partner, contact Innovate UK Business Connect.

Support for SMEs from Innovate UK EDGE

Innovate UK Business Connect are helping businesses in accessing and engaging with the regional support.

Assessment

Your application will be reviewed by three independent assessors based on the content of your application and their skills or expertise relevant to your project. All of the scores awarded will count towards the total score used to make the funding decision unless you are notified otherwise.

You can find out more about our assessment process in the General Guidance.

Your submitted application will be assessed against these criteria.

Next steps

If you are successful with this application, you will be asked to set up your project.

You must follow the unique link embedded in your email notification. This takes you to your Innovation Funding Service (IFS) Set Up portal, the tool that Innovate UK uses to gather necessary information before we can allow your project to begin.

You will need to provide:

  • the name and contact details of your project manager and project finance lead
  • a redacted copy of your bank details
  • an exploitation plan

In order for us to process your claims, you must make sure you have a valid UK business bank account. It can take several weeks for a new account to be created if required. We recommend starting this process as early as possible to avoid any delays to your project start date.

The bank account which grant is to be paid into must:

  • be a business account in the same name as the organisation listed in IFS
  • be from a UK bank regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)
  • have a cheque and credit clearing facility

Online accounts are eligible as long as they meet the above criteria.

Innovate UK will accept most banking societies apart from:

  • Viva Wallet
  • Intesa Sanpaolo
  • Equals Money UK Limited

If you have any doubts that your bank account will not meet Innovate UK's funding criteria, you can use the sort code checker. If you input the sort code and find a tick next to the ‘BACS Direct Credit payments can be sent to this sort code’, this will give you an indication that the bank account you hold is acceptable.

Finance checks

We will carry out checks to make sure you are an established company with access to the funds necessary to complete the project.

You must check your IFS portal regularly and respond to any requests we have sent for additional information to avoid any delays.

Failure to complete project setup may result in your grant offer being withdrawn.

Your Grant offer letter (GOL)

Once you have successfully completed project setup, we will issue your GOL.

The GOL will be made available on your IFS portal. You will need to sign and upload this for us to approve. Once approved we will send you an email with permission to start your project on your confirmed start date.

You must not start your project before the date stated on your email and GOL. Any costs incurred before your agreed start date cannot be claimed as part of your grant.

If your GOL is approved on or before the fifteenth of the month it will be dated from the first of that month. If your GOL is approved after the fifteenth, it will be dated the first of the next month.

If your application is unsuccessful

If you are unsuccessful with your application this time, you can view feedback from the assessors. This will be available to you on your IFS portal following notification.

Your application may score well and receive positive feedback from the assessors but be unsuccessful. This can be because your average score has not reached the funding threshold for this competition, or your project has not been selected under the portfolio approach if applied to this competition.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email support@iuk.ukri.org or call 0300 321 4357.

Our phone lines are open from 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm UK time, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Need help with this service? Contact us