Funding competition Production innovation for immersive content

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £8 million for research and development projects to create faster, more efficient immersive content. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

This competition is now closed.

Start new application

Competition sections


Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £8 million in innovation projects to enable immersive content to be created faster and more efficiently. This competition is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Audience of the Future (ISCF AotF) programme.

The competition aims to explore future commercial opportunities in creative industries by funding pre-commercial innovative projects which:

  • enable immersive content to be created faster, more efficiently or in new ways, and
  • improve significantly on the current ‘state of the art’ in the field

Your proposal must:

  • include at least one participant who is a content creator
  • develop tools, products or services for creating and delivering immersive content
  • take an innovative approach
  • describe your exploitation plan for commercialisation

A content creator in this context is an organisation within the creative industries that originates and produces creative works that can be protected through Intellectual Property Rights. Please contact the Knowledge Transfer Network for help with this.

This is a single stage competition. We require a written application, a 2-minute video and graphical representations that help demonstrate your proposal.

Projects must be business led and your organisation can apply alone or collaborate with others. Projects must include at least one SME.

If your project’s total costs or duration fall outside of our eligibility criteria, you must email your request with full justification to at least 10 days before the competition closes.

Funding type


Project size

Single SME: project duration 6 to 12 months, total project costs £100,000 to £250,000. Collaborative: project duration 6 to 18 months, total project costs £250,000 to £1 million. All projects must start by 1 April 2019 and end by 31 December 2020.

Who can apply

This competition is open to all creative industry organisations working with immersive technology.

To lead a project you must:

  • be a UK-registered business
  • be a content creator, or collaborate with at least one participant who is a content creator

Projects with costs:

  • under £250,000 must be single SME projects only
  • over £250,000 must be collaborative and involve at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)

To collaborate you must be a UK based:

  • business of any size
  • research organisation
  • public sector organisation or charity undertaking research activity

All partners must:

  • carry out their project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results in or from the UK

Single applicants must claim funding. If the project is collaborative, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding.

Find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME.

Any UK business claiming funding must be eligible to receive state aid. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information please see our general guidance.

Multiple applications

Any one business may lead on one application and collaborate in a further 2 applications. If a business is not leading an application, they can be a collaborator in up to 3 applications.

Non-business partners can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

Projects may include partners that do not receive any funding (for example, non-UK businesses). Their costs will count towards the total project costs but they will not count as collaborators.

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole company and were awarded funding by Innovate UK or UK Research and Innovation, but did not make a substantial effort to exploit that award, we will award no more funding to you, in this or any other competition. You will not be able to contest our decision. We will:

  • assess your efforts in the previous competition against your exploitation plan for that project
  • review the monitoring officers’ reports and any other relevant sources for evidence
  • document our decision, which will be made by 3 team members
  • communicate our decision to you in writing


If Innovate UK judges that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be classed as a resubmission.

If your application is unsuccessful, you may reapply with the same proposal once more, taking into account the feedback received from the assessors. You can reapply into another competition. You can make a maximum of 2 applications in total with any proposal.


We have allocated up to £8 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Find out more about which project costs are eligible.

Any research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. This is in any capacity, whether they are contributing as collaborators or subcontractors. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

This competition provides state aid funding under the General Block Exemption Regulation. It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Your proposal

This competition is part of the £33 million ‘Audience of the Future’ Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The aim of this competition is to explore future commercial opportunities in the creative industries through pre-commercial, innovative projects. These projects must enable immersive content to be created faster, more efficiently or in new ways which improve significantly on the current ‘state of the art’.

Your project must:

  • develop tools, products or services for creating and delivering immersive content
  • demonstrate innovation in software, hardware and/or development methodology

We define immersive experiences as multisensory narrative or interactive experiences through technologies including:

  • virtual, mixed and augmented reality
  • haptics
  • advanced visualisation
  • other sensory interfaces

  1. The 9 sectors in the UK creative industries are:
  2. Advertising and marketing
  3. Architecture
  4. Crafts
  5. Design: product, graphic and fashion
  6. Film, TV, video, radio and photography
  7. Computer games and services
  8. Publishing
  9. Museums, galleries and libraries
  10. Music, performing and visual arts

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets and technological maturities. These may include feasibility studies, industrial research projects or experimental development projects.

Project types

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • projects or solutions in areas other than the creative industries
  • solutions which do not enable or facilitate the creation of immersive content
  • projects which request funding for non-UK based partners or subcontractors

1 October 2018
Competition opens
8 October 2018
Belfast drop-in session
9 October 2018
Edinburgh briefing event
15 October 2018
Cardiff drop-in session
16 October 2018
Manchester briefing event
18 October 2018
London briefing event. Watch the recording
18 October 2018
Online briefing event
8 November 2018
Newcastle drop-in session
28 November 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
16 January 2019 4:00pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

Please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

When you start an application you will be prompted to create an account as the lead applicant or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

As the lead applicant you will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation in leading the project if your application is successful

You will be able to invite:

  • colleagues to contribute to the application
  • other organisations to collaborate in the project if your application is successful

Collaborating organisations can be other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

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

1. Application details

Explain your project. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits with the scope of the competition. If it does not, it will be immediately rejected.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration. List any organisations you have named as collaborators.

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. Please 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.


Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why. Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

Your answers to these questions will be scored by the assessors. You will receive feedback from the assessors for each question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.

Question 1: Need or challenge

What creative, technical and commercial opportunity could your proposal unlock? What is the challenge it seeks to address?

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological or creative challenge, or market opportunity
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project is focused on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations. Our Horizons tool can help with this

Question 2: Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

Describe or explain:

  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • how this project fits with your current business, product, service lines or offerings
  • how it will make you more competitive
  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project (for example, report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design) and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified

You can submit a single appendix as a PDF no larger than 10MB and up to 2 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3: Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

Describe or explain:

  • the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them
  • the details of any vital external parties, including sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • (if your project is collaborative) the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any gaps in the team that will need to be filled

You can submit a single appendix as a PDF no larger than 10MB and up to 4 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4: Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Describe or explain:

  • the markets and audiences (domestic, international or both) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets
  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
  • the current UK position in targeting these markets
  • the size and main features of any other markets not already listed

If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:

  • what the market’s size might to be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 5: Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to grow your business and increase your productivity into the long term as a result of the project?

Describe or explain:

  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • your target customers or end users, and the value to them, for example, why would they use or buy it?
  • your route to market
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation (increased revenues or cost reduction)
  • how the innovation will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • 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 strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified during or after the project

If there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe:

  • your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • how you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities

Question 6: Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Describe, and where possible measure:

  • the economic benefits from the project to external parties, including customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy, such as productivity increases and import substitution
  • any expected impact on government priorities
  • any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative
  • any expected regional impacts of the project

Describe any expected social impacts, either positive or negative on, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion or exclusion
  • jobs, such as safeguarding, creating, changing or displacing them
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity

Question 7: Project management

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the relevant research category, the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms that will be used for a successful and innovative project outcome.
  • the management reporting lines
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

You can upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8: Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Describe or explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • how these risks will be managed and potentially mitigated
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how will you manage this?

You can upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9: Added value

Describe the impact that an injection of public funding would have on this project.

Describe or explain:

  • if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make, such as faster to market, more partners and reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the businesses of the partners involved
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake, and the related spend

Question 10: Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

Describe or explain:

  • the total project cost and the grant being requested in terms of the project goals
  • how the partners will finance their contributions to the project
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer and how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise?
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

Question 11: Link and password to access your video

Please create a video to describe or show your proposal. Upload it to a password-protected page on Vimeo before the competition closes.

Your video:

  • can be up to 2 minutes long
  • must be in one of the formats permitted by Vimeo
  • need not be a high quality costly production as it is simply an opportunity to give the assessors help to assess your solution
  • will be considered together with the description you give in the other application questions

Carefully paste the video’s exact URL and password, specifying case sensitive characters accurately.

If there are things you do not want to include in the video for reasons of confidentiality, explain them in your answer to this question.

Check that your video can be opened (with the specified credentials) and played before completing your submission.

3. Finances

The finances section asks each organisation in your project to complete their own project costs, organisational details and funding details. Academics will need to complete and upload a Je-S form. For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

The aim of the ‘Audience of the Future’ Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is to enable businesses to develop the knowledge, skills and business insight needed to capture new global audiences.

Audience of the Future is a cornerstone of the Creative Industries Sector Deal. The deal is designed to unlock growth for creative businesses: increasing exports, sustaining above average economic growth and boosting good quality job creation across the country.

Our overall aim is for the UK to grow its leading market position in creative content, products and services. This can be achieved by adopting, exploiting and developing immersive technologies, production processes and experiences.

Extra help

If you want help to find a project collaborator, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

If you need more information, call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at

Need help with this service? Contact us