Creative Catalyst 2024

Key Features

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. This fully funded grant programme is from Innovate UK.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £50,000

Opens: 23rd Jan 2024

Closes: 6th Mar 2024

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £10 million for innovation projects as part of the Creative Catalyst.


The aim of this competition is to support the growth of untapped innovative businesses and to increase investment in creative talent across the UK. We will do this by providing a package of targeted and continuous support to help creative industries businesses to develop innovation that will propel their business growth plans.

Innovate UK are looking to fund and support a diverse portfolio of innovative award holders. Your project must:

  • be from or support the creative industries in the UK
  • demonstrate a clearly innovative and ambitious idea which addresses an industry challenge
  • be a significant improvement on what is currently on offer in your existing business, with a demonstrable impact to your growth plan
  • create a new revenue stream, for example, new products, services or IP
  • be market ready within 12 months after project completion
  • demonstrate value for money

Innovate UK encourage proposals that can demonstrate benefit to the wider creative industries sector, especially those that are underrepresented in innovation, for example:

  • architecture
  • crafts
  • photography
  • publishing
  • radio

This list is not exhaustive and innovations from across the creative industries are welcome.

As part of your application, you must include a short video, up to 2 minutes in length. You must host your video on Vimeo or YouTube.

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, or your project that will help to strengthen your application

If the assessors cannot view your video or it is hosted on a platform other than Vimeo or YouTube without approval from Innovate UK, your application will be made ineligible.

Portfolio approach

Innovate UK want to fund a variety of creative subsector projects from across the UK. We call this a portfolio approach.

In support of the Government’s Levelling Up goals, we reserve the right to prioritise projects that have greater levels of activity outside the Greater South East.

In order for you to gain maximum impact from this cohort we will share your high-level application data, in accordance with Innovate UK’s Privacy Policy, with Innovate UK KTN and Creative UK. This is to enable them to contact you and send you details of the upcoming opportunities and our Creative Catalyst peer network.

Specific Themes

The creative industries projects supported by this fund must focus on one or more of the following subsectors:

  • advertising and marketing
  • animation
  • architecture
  • arts and culture
  • crafts
  • design
  • fashion
  • film, TV and video
  • games
  • publishing
  • music and radio
  • visual art and photography


Your project must:

  • have total project costs and grant funding request of no more than £50,000
  • start between 1 August 2024 and 1 October 2024
  • end by 31 March 2025
  • last between 3 and 6 months

You must carry out all of your project work in the UK and intend to exploit the results from or in the UK.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

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

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered micro or small business
  • have not previously received funding from Innovate UK
  • be from or support the creative industries sector
  • have a demonstrable ambition for growth
  • engage with Innovate UK EDGE to maximise business growth opportunities
  • have operations and a project team based in the UK

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


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

You cannot attribute more than 75% of your project costs to subcontractors. Your subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

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.

Innovate UK expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. Innovate UK will not accept a cheaper cost, or having worked with them previously, as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

An eligible business can only submit one application.

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.

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


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • are not led by a UK registered micro or small business
  • have total project costs and a grant funding in excess of £50,000
  • attribute more than 75% of their costs to subcontractors
  • do not fall within the subsectors of creative industries outlined for Creative Catalyst, for example, construction, education, tourism, manufacturing without demonstrable subsector ties
  • do not intend to use the full award package, for example, requesting just the funding and not the wider support package
  • come from organisations that are not profit driven
  • have previously received funding from Innovate UK
  • are commissioning business as usual (BAU) activities, for example, a new game or film that do not have an innovative edge to the way your company usually addresses new projects
  • lack evidence that their proposed innovation is expected to lead to significant and positive economic impact, or that value for money will be achieved
  • lack research and development or innovation, for example, the creation of information only websites
  • are not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are not eligible to receive Minimal Financial Assistance

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that 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.
  • 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

Common reasons we must deem a project as ineligible:

  • £0 is entered in the amount of funding sought
  • the applicant has not provided a video submission link

Innovate UK cannot amend applications retrospectively, you must allow enough time to review your submission. Any edits to your application should be made in a timely manner prior to the submission deadline of 11am on 6 March 2024.

Funding Costs

Up to £10 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition.

You can claim 100% of your eligible project costs up to the maximum of £50,000. The total project costs detailed within your application and your grant request must match.

If your total project costs or grant request do exceed the maximum of £50,000 then your application will be made ineligible.

If successful, your grant will be released in two payments:

  • your total grant request minus £15,000 will be paid on the return and validation by Innovate UK, of your signed grant offer letter
  • you will need to provide evidence to show how your grant was spent to your Monitoring Service Provider (MSP), they will be allocated to you by us to support you so your final payment can be released
  • the remaining £15,000 will be paid at the end of the project, on receipt and approval by Innovate UK of a statement of expenditure (SOE), agreed with your MSP

If successful you will also be given a package of phased non-financial support to grow your business. This includes:

  • priority access to Innovate UK’s Global Business Innovation Programme, with potential to visit emerging international markets, to collaborate, build networks and find future opportunities for business
  • inclusion in the Innovate UK KTN peer-to-peer network, which will provide access to events, stakeholders and other scaling companies to engage with, build collaborations and gain insights from
  • the opportunity to solve problems large organisations are facing through open innovation funding, which will call out to the creative industries for collaborative projects working with our grant awardees on solutions, this will be a collaboration with Creative UK
  • continued support through Innovate UK EDGE, which gives one-to-one business growth support, tailored to business needs
  • access to a programme of specialised support and accelerating opportunities for investment and Innovate UK’s connections to investors

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.