Innovate UK offers £2m grant for early-stage immersive businesses

Immersive BusinessesImage: Innovate UK offers £2m grant for early-stage immersive businesses. Photo: Courtesy of GOV.UK.

Innovate UK, in partnership with 11 private investment firms, is offering grant funding of up to £2m alongside equity investment for research and development (R&D) projects taken up by immersive businesses.

The immersive industry in the UK is estimated to generate £660m in sales every year, and companies participating in the immersive economy have employed as many as half a million people.

In spite of this, a gap exists in angel and early-seed investment into immersive businesses, a crucial point for the growth of a new business.

As part of efforts to help businesses overcome this barrier and boost the UK economy, Innovate UK is working with 11 investor partners to offer simultaneous grant funding and venture capital investment in early-stage projects that are led by UK companies.

The investor partners are: Creative England; GC Angels (GC Business Finance); HTC Europe (Vive X); London Venture Partners; Mercia Technologies; Northstar Ventures; Oxford Sciences Innovation; R/GA; Station 12; Techstart Ventures; and Warner Music UK.

The funding competition is aimed at encouraging early-stage private investment in small and medium-sized immersive businesses; removing the need to find match funding; and giving companies direct access to investment partners’ commercial skills, knowledge and market opportunities.

Grant funding will be provided through the audience of the future programme of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The programme is intended to grow the UK’s market position in creative content by bringing together creative businesses, researchers and technology experts to adopt, exploit and develop immersive technologies.

Companies that are involved in the production of immersive content, delivering new immersive products, services or platforms, or developing novel immersive software, hardware or devices, are eligible to participate in the competition.

Innovate UK said that projects can focus on enhancing, extending or transforming the immersive audience experience; new immersive content production tools, software and systems; and VR, AR and other digital technologies to deepen and enrich the immersive experience.

The competition will open on 20 May 2019 and close on 3 July 2019. Total eligible costs of a project should be between £150,000 and £300,000.

UK-based micro, small or medium-sized enterprise working in immersive technology can apply for the funding, and they should carry out the project in the UK.

Furthermore, applicants will be required to commit to co-investment from one of the investor partners.

Innovate UK said that it will fund up to 70% of projects for micro or small businesses and up to 60% for medium-sized businesses. The remaining project costs should be borne by one of the investor partners.

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