Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Creative Catalyst

The Creative Catalyst offers funding and a package of tailored non-financial support for high-potential micro and small businesses that either:

  • are from the creative industries
  • support the creative industries

The programme will de-risk innovation in the creative industries and help businesses to grow.

The average annual budget for this programme is £15 million
This is an ongoing initiative with annual funding rounds
Partners involved:
Innovate UK

The scope and what we're doing

The Creative Catalyst is a £30 million programme, providing end-to-end innovation support for projects by high-potential micro and small companies in the creative industries sector.

The programme for 2023 to 2024

Innovate UK (part of UK Research and Innovation) will invest up to £10 million in innovation projects for micro and small companies in the UK, in the first phase of the programme.

The programme is for UK-registered micro and small companies that either:

  • are from the creative industries
  • support the creative industries sector

Successful applicants will get up to £50,000, alongside a package of phased non-financial support to grow their business. This includes:

  • priority access to Innovate UK’s Global Business Innovation Programme, which will give grant awardees the chance to visit emerging international markets, to collaborate, build their 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

The funded projects will focus on one or more of the following creative industries subsectors:

  • advertising and marketing
  • architecture
  • arts and culture
  • broadcasting
  • crafts
  • design
  • fashion
  • film
  • games
  • music
  • publishing

Key dates

August 2023: cohort 1 kick off projects.

January 2024: applications open for the next round of funding.

Why we're doing it

The aim of this programme is to scale up innovation within the creative industries, by providing a package of targeted and continuous support to help businesses grow.

The vision of this programme is to de-risk innovative projects in the creative industries, giving ambitious teams the network to succeed, and work with them on action plans that will accelerate their ideas.

Opportunities, support and resources available

All funding opportunities within UKRI will be listed on our funding finder.

The first round of the Creative Catalyst closed for applications in February 2023.

The closed application process for Creative Catalyst 2023 (information only).

The second round is expected to open in January 2024.

Keep up to date with the creative industries

Innovate UK KTN’s creative industries web page has information on opportunities, including the Creative Catalyst.

For details of the latest events, calls for research, funding and grant opportunities, and industry updates, subscribe to the digital and creative industries newsletter .

Past projects, outcomes and impact

The Creative Catalyst programme was created on the back of the Creative Industries Fund, which ran in 2021 and supported 127 businesses. It highlighted the need for innovation support. The video shows some of the outcomes of that fund.

Watch Creative Industries 2021 (YouTube).

Last updated: 7 September 2023

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback.