Business Support

We aim to help independent businesses think long-term about strategies for their growth and sustainability.

By helping them extend their networks we encourage them to learn from their peers and develop new business partnerships. And by developing links with other business sectors we help creative content businesses recognise that their products and services now have value across almost every part of the UK economy, not just in entertainment. We have secured £5m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) to stimulate new jobs and growth in the digital and creative sectors in areas of high unemployment.

We are helping develop the Government’s ‘creative city’ vision through a joint agreement with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) scheme and are working towards similar agreements with cities all over England, including Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Newcastle, Sheffield and Brighton.

Information on the our Business Investment Funds, European Creative Industries Alliance ‘Cluster 2020′ project and the Creative Industries innovation programme can be found by clicking on the tabs at the top of the page.

Creative England Business Loans

Creative England are supporting digital creative companies to finance business growth through the provision of CE_Primary_Loans_rgb_on black_smlinterest-free loans.

Creative England Business Loans will help fuel the growth of the fastest growing sector in the UK economy, financing business expansion and new products which will lead to the creation of new, high-quality jobs.

Businesses based in the North, the Midlands and the South West of England will be able to apply for a loan of between £60,000 and £150,000 which is then repaid over 3 years. The loan repayments in the first year are minimal followed by 24 equal repayments over the final 2 years. The loan must be matched 50:50 with other finance, sourced by the company.

Creative England Business Loans are funded through the new Creative England Growth Programme, a £4.2m programme funded by the Regional Growth Fund. Two previous loan funds have been so successful and heavily over-subscribed that the decision has been taken to increase the loan funding available from £1,000,000 to £1,500,000.

Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis

Download the Creative England business loans guidelines

Apply for a Creative England business loan

Creative England Innovation Programme

The Creative England Innovation Programme helps creative companies build and sell innovative products and services more successfully. This work is delivered through structured projects – which include seed investment, mentoring, marketing, and business support, planning and strategy. These projects help companies jump over business barriers to grow more quickly and profitably.

The projects are supported by European funding, available through the iNet programme. Unfortunately this means they are only open to companies based in the South West - for now at least. This will expand across England as new funding is secured.

New programmes will be  launched at regular intervals and the details will be added to this page.

Starter for 10

starter-for-10Applications are now open for Creative England’s Starter for 10, a programme to fund and support the best creative startup businesses in the South West. We want to help ambitious young companies develop and/or commercialise an innovative product or service by mid-September 2014.

Shortlisted companies will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of industry professionals who will select 10 winners to receive a £10,000 grant and a comprehensive programme of business support – all designed to help deliver unique, exciting and innovative new ideas to market.

For more details and information on how to apply, visit www.starterfor10.biz

Creative Business Mentoring

We have teamed up with Nesta to deliver its very successful creative business mentoring programme in the South West (excluding Cornwall), the North West and the West Midlands. It’s a chance to connect today’s digital, media and creative business leaders with entrepreneurs who have achieved great success already.

Deadline for applications to the South West Creative Business Mentoring Programme: Midnight 25 April

Read more about Creative Business Mentoring

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Cluster 2020

Cluster 2020 is part of the European Creative Industries Alliance (ECIA) €100m initiative, working with cluster organisations across Europe to provide better business support for creative businesses.

**Read a definition of a cluster at the foot of this page

Creative England will work with business clusters in England, Germany & France to run trials and test ways to optimise work spaces, develop better business support services and facilitate cross-sectoral linkages.

Throughout 2013 and 2014 Creative England will run a series of practical activities [for businesses and cluster organisations] which will include:

  • An open data and information service. 8 creative and digital businesses participated in a data mini-lab which was held in Birmingham and Manchester durign 2013. The businesses were matched with a data expert who helped them explore data for competitive business advantage.
  • Access to a Creative Business Mentoring Programme starting in April 2014.
  • Software tools that will provide information, guidance and access to existing support services; and online diagnostics to identify business growth needs.
  • Working with Mosley Exchange and Manchester Metropolitan University to apply different configurations of facilities and services in incubation, co-working and start-up work space.
  • Internationalisation support in terms of access to SME travel grants (up to €400) to attend key festivals and events.
  • A guide to productivity and business tools that will help improve the performance of creative businesses.
  • Access to intelligence on key emerging business issues via a range of expert videos, research findings and guides.

This is your chance to get involved and help shape the future of creative clustering support so that it is relevant to you.

If you would like to know more, register your interest in the above activity, enquire about travel grants or even feedback your thoughts on existing business support that has worked for you, we want to hear from you.

Please contact Johanna Bolhoven on Johanna.bolhoven@creativeengland.co.uk or telephone 0161 713 3721.

The European Commission (DG Education and Culture) has launched a Europe-wide survey in order to investigate the financing needs and access to finance of the Creative Industries. Click here to participate.

To find out more about ECIA and other actions on better access to finance, voucher schemes, cluster excellence and collaboration, as well as the over-arching Policy Learning Platform visit: http://www.eciaplatform.eu and www.cluster2020live.eu

Follow us on Twitter: @cluster_2020 and @followECIA

Join our LinkedIn Group(s): Supporting Creative Businesses and Cluster 2020 Manchester Advisory Group

This initiative is financed under the Competitiveness & Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), which aims to encourage the competiveness of European Enterprises

** Cluster – “geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, firms in related industries, and associated institutions in particular fields that compete but also cooperate” (Porter, 1998)[1]


[1] Porter, M. E. (1998) On Competition. Harvard Business Press, p.215-216

Creative Business Mentoring

We have teamed up with Nesta to deliver its very successful creative business mentoring programme in the South West (excluding Cornwall), North West and West Midlands. It’s a chance to connect today’s digital, media and creative business leaders with entrepreneurs who have achieved great success already.

 “To have somebody who is willing to share the benefits of their enormous experience with you is absolutely invaluable.” Deep Sehgal, Avatar Productions

This tailored mentoring programme allows business leaders to get expert guidance from highly successful creative entrepreneurs. For most leaders running a creative business, having access to insights from someone who has already successfully grown and, in many cases, sold a creative business is invaluable.

The experience they can share, allows business leaders to take decisions more quickly and confidently, as well as widen their own knowledge and skills to manage their business better and grow it more rapidly.

The initiative has been established in conjunction with Nesta and the European Creative Industries Alliance Cluster 2020 project, with support from Nesta, Creative Skillset & The Supper Club.

It is based on the highly successful model developed by Nesta which placed a number of successful and high-profile entrepreneurs to mentor a range of digital, media and creative business leaders.

What are the costs?

Participation in this programme will cost £300 per business. This is a contribution towards the cost of running the programme and is not a payment to mentors – mentors are volunteers, giving their time at no cost.

What previous participants say…

“Our mentor made so much more of a difference to our company than I’d imagined. I had access to a wealth of experience from someone I could trust with intimate knowledge of my business. It might take a little leap of faith, but we’re living proof that it’s worth it. Our mentor (Charles Wace, Twofour Group) helped us become even stronger – he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and frankly, that’s the only way a small business can work!” Jaya Chakrabarti, Managing Director, Nameless

“The Nesta mentoring scheme was genuinely transformative for me. To have somebody who is willing to share the benefits of their enormous experience with you is absolutely invaluable, and I’m pleased to still have a very strong relationship with my mentor (Wayne Garvey, All3Media) as our company continues to develop and succeed.”  Deep Sehgal, Executive Producer, Avatar Productions 

Read the Creative Business Mentoring Programme FAQs

How to apply?

Click on the following link to complete an application form: Apply here.

Deadline for applications to the West Midlands and North West Creative Business Mentoring Programme: Midnight on Friday 25th April 2014

Deadline for applications to the South West Creative Business Mentoring Programme is now closed.

For more information please contact Johanna Bolhoven on Johanna.bolhoven@creativeengland.co.uk or telephone 0161 713 3721. For the South West cohort you can also contact Tim Evans on tim.evans@creativeengland.co.uk.

Please note that the South West element of this mentoring programme is being delivered by the Creative England Innovation Programme (see below) and additional eligibility criteria will apply. Please refer to the Programme FAQs.

Creative England Innovation Programme

The South West element of the Mentoring Programme is part of a series of programmes devised by Creative England to help creative companies build and sell innovative products and services more successfully. This work is delivered through structured projects – which include seed investment, mentoring, marketing, and business support, planning & strategy. These projects help companies jump over business barriers to grow more quickly and profitably.

This project is supported by European funding, available through the iNet programme.

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