A selection of the key sources is as follows:
There are no doubt many other potential sources of funding that may not be specifically games-focused but for which you may qualify. New grants are created from time to time to support specific areas e.g. Immerse UK was established in 2016 when it became clear that immersive technologies would benefit from more focused efforts at research and development.
Businesses that take advantage of any government funding should note that some of these may constitute state aid and so may have an impact on and limit the availability of other state aid such as VGTR and R&D tax relief. Specialist advice should be taken at the time.
The UK Games Fund is a not-for-profit £4 million fund set up in 2015 that provides grants to studios to be applied towards the development of a specific game project.
The UK Games Fund is able to provide grants of up to £30,000 to established UK-based companies and solo developers with a game development project in two phases. An initial phase of funding of up to £12,000 will then lead to an opportunity to pitch for up to £18,000 of additional support.
Since 2015, the Fund has run ten rounds of funding and has received thousands of applications from across the UK.
Round 10 has now closed, but watch this space for Round 11: the Department for Culture, Media & Sport confirmed funding for the UK Games Fund until 2025
In past rounds, eligible applicants have been required to meet the following criteria:
In addition, applicants should consider the following as a baseline regarding suitability for funding:
Please check the UK Games Fund website for details of how to apply as and when rounds of funding are open.
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 UK Games Fund does not require any ownership of intellectual property or equity stake as part of any grant.
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.
Creative UK is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support for and investment in the UK’s creative industries.
Creative UK’s stated aim is to invest in talented people and their creative ideas – not only in the games industry but also in the TV, film and digital media industries.
Creative UK has a variety of initiatives open at any one time, some of which are aimed specifically at games businesses. Often these will involve selecting a small number of developers, publishers or other businesses and providing a programme of workshops, masterclasses and workshops, like the Games Scale Up programme.
They also run Creative Enterprise: Evolve, a nine-month long programme that prepares screen businesses for growth capital. Currently this is only available for businesses based in England outside of London.
More information on relevant initiatives and programmes can be found here.
Creative UK also directly provides debt finance to businesses within the creative industries (including video games) via the Creative Growth Finance Debt Fund, a fund established in partnership with Triodos Bank UK.
The key features of the loans on offer are as follows:
Eligibility requirements are as follows:
Creative UK also provide loans secured on future R&D and VGTR tax credit payments. For more information on these loans, please refer to the section of this Guide on Video Games Tax Relief Loans.
For more information on Creative UK’s tax credit loans, please click here.
Creative UK also makes equity investments in businesses. Since 2012 it has invested over £20 million in over 350 creative businesses with an average investment size of £67,000.
Currently Creative UK has a £2 million pot to invest in creative businesses based in the North of Tyne Combined Authority Area via a mix of loans and equity.
For more information, click here.
Start-up loans are personal loans designed to help new businesses begin trading, available to individuals looking to start or grow a business (i.e. not limited to the games or creative industries in the UK). They are provided by the Start Up Loans Company, which is funded and backed by the UK Government. Since 2012, Start Up Loans have been provided for over 55,000 business ideas.
The key features are as follows:
To be eligible, you must:
More details can be found here.
Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by the UK Government, that provides grants to companies for R&I-based projects.
Since 2007, it has invested approximately £2.5 billion across more than 11,000 projects.
Out of a total fund for investment for 2016-2017 of £561 million, entities can apply for funding of between £25,000 and £1,000,000 (depending on the specifics of the individual funding stream). More information on Innovate UK can be found here.
Innovate UK aims to invest in early stage innovation projects with high potential as well as focusing on sectors it has identified as priorities.
The priority areas identified in 2019 were (a) artificial intelligence (AI) and the data economy, (b) ageing society, health and nutrition, (c) clean growth and infrastructure and (d) mobility, manufacturing and materials.
Innovate UK provides a mix of grants and loans.
Grants are available to businesses of any size and in any sector, with regular competitions offering between £25,000 and £2 million run for projects with high commercial potential.
Certain of the competitions on offer involve loans rather than outright grants.
The current open competitions and programmes can be found here.
Innovate UK currently has no specific video game funding programme, but certain of the competitions launched from time to time may be useful to video games businesses, so it is worth checking the Innovate UK website regularly.
Applicant need to submit a detailed application form. Each application form has specific rules regarding length and content. Once submitted the application will be evaluated and funding granted on that basis only. More information about the application process can be found here.
Aimed at boosting the international competitiveness of UK screen content the Global Screen Fund is designed to boost international development, production, distribution, and promotional opportunities for the UK’s independent screen sector and is constructed to help develop and produce projects with international appeal, support the worldwide distribution of UK content, and encourage collaboration with international partners. The Global Screen Fund targets support across the screen sector, including film, TV, documentary, animation and interactive narrative games content. It was launched as an alternative to the European Union’s Creative Europe MEDIA programme, which ceased to be available to UK companies after 31 December 2020 due to Brexit.
The Global Screen Fund allocates funding across three strands:
Whilst the fund is mainly aimed at the film and television sectors, there are aspects that are relevant to interactive entertainment businesses.
Please click here for more information.
Northern Ireland Screen is the national screen agency for Northern Ireland and it is committed to maximising the economic, cultural and educational value of the screen industries for the benefit of Northern Ireland. With its funding for the video games industry, Northern Ireland Screen aims to develop the digital content sector through the support of Northern Irish talent working in gaming, e-learning, web and mobile. More information on Northern Ireland Screen can be found here.
Northern Ireland’s two main funding streams are:
Project Development Funding is available to independent production companies based in Northern Ireland and European production companies which have an office and staff based in Northern Ireland.
Project Production Funding is available to all legally incorporated companies who: (1) can fulfil the British Cultural Test (more information on this can be found here); (2) have 65% of their funding already in place; and (3) can demonstrate their project has clear possibilities for commercial exploitation (such as having an experienced publisher attached to the project).
Initially, projects are encouraged to email Northern Ireland Screen Fund to discuss the proposed project. Information on contact details and what further details may be required can be found here.
This is by far the most substantial government funding for video game studios in Scotland. Scottish Enterprise runs a variety of programmes for companies that want to set up in Scotland. The most applicable for video game studios are:
Examples of studios that have received Scottish Enterprise funding include: (1) Rockstar North (who received R&D grant funding), (2) Blazing Griffin (who received matched seed funding from the Scottish Investment Bank); and (3) Axis Studios (who received funding through the regional selective assistance program). More information on these funding streams can be found on the Scottish Enterprise website here.
Depending on where it is based, your video games businesses may be eligible to receive funding from bodies that focus on boosting the economy in their region, such as Screen Yorkshire and S4C in Wales. It is always worth checking, according to where you are based, if there is any regional funding that you may be able to benefit from.