What is the UK Games Fund?
The UK Games Fund is a £4m fund, set up in 2015 and running until at least 2019, that provides Government grants to studios to be applied towards the development of a specific game project.
How can the UK Games Fund help your studio?
The UK Games Fund is able to provide grants of up to £25,000 to early stage studios, or up to £15,000 for solo developers (i.e. those who do not have any contractors working for them).
The Fund has to date supported over 100 projects.
How can your studio become eligible?
A grant will only be provided to a registered, active games development company (you can also apply as a new start-up, even before you have legally formed your company but no grant will be paid out until you have formally established your entity), that has at least 6 weeks of working capital to enable it to draw down the grant in arrears. The grant should also represent no more than 50% of the total cost of the game in development.
As the grant is to be spent on a project that employs UK domiciled employees or contractors the entity also must have at least one PAYE employee (who can be supported by contractors but these must be UK based as well) but no more than 50 employees. The costs of any non-UK based employees or contractors cannot be claimed from the grant.
The project itself cannot include any gambling elements (or content that the UK Games Fund decides could cause reputational damage), be a purely non-digital game (such as a physical card game or a board game) nor have already launched.
If you are uncertain as to whether you are eligible, you are encouraged to contact the UK Games Fund with a paragraph or two about the project to check their eligibility (although the UK Games Fund will not enter into extended discussions regarding specific projects prior to any application).
How do you apply?
There is a two stage process for applications, which is as follows:
- Video Pitch Application – This has two stages (1) a short online application that supports your video application and (2) a two minute pitch video. Information on what the video pitch should contain can be found here.
- Written Application – Applicants that are successful at the video pitch stage will be invited to complete a full written application. Full guidance will be provided at the time.
If successful, applicants will need to undertake an internal IP housekeeping audit and allow the UK Games Fund to undertake credit and other due diligence checks.
Information about when the application window for the next round of funding can be found here.
What are the main terms of a grant?
Provided all grant conditions are met during and after the project, the funding received will not have to be repaid. However, all executive directors of funded entities will be expected (but not required) to make a public pledge to re-invest an unstated proportion of any significant returns in talent / IP development for the UK games ecosystem. All funded entities will be expected to volunteer to make staff available to support UK games talent development projects as mentors and judges.
The future of the UK Games Fund
The UK Games Fund has proposed that its funding allocation be increased by £23.7m. This proposal was recently supported in the Independent Review of the Creative Industries, authored by current ITV chair Sir Peter Bazalgette in September 2017. The Review identifies a funding gap for games projects of between £50,000 and £3m, which such additional funding would help to close.
In the November 2017 Budget, the Government outlined plans to provide an additional £1m to the UK Games Fund to extend the program until 2020. The continuation of the UK Games Fund provides a welcome boost to the UK Games industry.
The UK Games Fund team is also responsible for Tranzfuser, an innovative talent development programme for graduates, that includes funding awards of £5,000 for successful applicants. More information can be found here.