DCMS Create Growth Programme competition 2: investor partnership

Key Features

UK registered creative SMEs within appointed regions, can apply for grant funding alongside private investment from selected investor partners to support growth.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £6 million

Opens: 26th Oct 2023

Closes: 10th Jan 2024

! This scheme is now closed


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 and are not 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)


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

Portfolio approach

Innovate UK want to fund a variety of projects across the different creative sub-sectors from each of the DCMS Create Growth appointed regions. Innovate UK call this a portfolio approach. Innovate UK will also take into account the impact of the grant in attracting investment and likelihood of the investment completing within a reasonable time.

Specific Themes

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.


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

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.

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.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

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

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

A micro, small or medium size enterprise, cannot subcontract their own directors, secretaries, or persons with significant control.

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

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


Innovate UK are not funding projects that are:

  • not working with an investor partner from the selected pool of investor partners
  • not carried out by SMEs
  • supporting business as usual (BAU) activities
  • currently in receipt of public funding for business growth outside of the DCMS Create Growth Programme or Innovate UK Creative Catalyst
  • collaborative R&D projects
  • not part of a company’s growth plan
  • unable to demonstrate there is potential for return on investment and growth
  • without evidence the proposed innovation will lead to business growth
  • not addressing how potentially negative outcomes will be considered, for example, on the environment
  • not able to deliver value for money
  • sitting outside of the creative industries
  • without innovation, for example the creation of information-only websites

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

Funding Costs

Up to £6 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Innovate UK funding will be in the form of a grant with aligned investment from or led by one of our selected investor partners.

Innovate UK will decide which projects are eligible and in scope to receive grant funding. The decision will be based on the assessment of your application by independent assessors and on a review of your expected investment following a discussion with your proposed investor partner.

If you are successful, you will:

  • receive grant funding to cover a proportion of the costs of your project
  • only be allowed to commence once the agreed aligned investment has been confirmed

Your business must have sufficient capital resources, including through investment from the investor partner and the grant funding, to enable you to meet all your project’s eligible costs.

All recipients must act commercially, and your funding request must not exceed the limits specified.

For industrial research projects, Innovate UK will fund:

  • up to 70% of eligible project costs for micro or small organisations
  • up to 60% for medium sized organisations

The investment led by the investor partner must always be at least equal to the grant funding.

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.