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 2024 to 2025

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, that have not previously received Innovate UK grant funding.

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 Innovate UK KTN‘s peer-to-peer network, made up of previously awarded innovators. The network provides access to events, stakeholders and other scaling companies to engage with, build collaborations and gain insights from
  • the opportunity to solve challenges large organisations are facing through open innovation funding, which will call out to the creative industries. 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 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

Key dates

23 January 2024: competition opens

25 January 2024: online briefing event

6 February 2024: online grant writing workshop one

28 February 2024: online grant writing workshop two

6 March 2024 11:00am UK time: competition closes

10 May 2024: applicants notified

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 Creative Catalyst’s funding competition opens for applications on 23 January 2024. Submit your application by 6 March 2024 11:00am UK time.

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).

Creative Catalyst 2023 supported more than 200 creative businesses and included three Global Business Innovation Programmes to India, US and Finland.

Read about Celestial, one of the Creative Industries Fund companies, who went on to be the first Investor Partnerships awardee under Creative Catalyst.

Last updated: 24 January 2024

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.