Creative Scale Up

Creative Scale Up 2020-05-14T09:09:45+01:00
Graffiti image of man in glasses on a large wall

Credit: Artwork by KOBRA painted at UPFEST 2017


Creative Scale Up is a pilot programme designed to support creative businesses in the West of England to grow and access finance. This is a £1.3 million Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) funded programme which will explore how best to support businesses in the creative industries sector to grow whilst encouraging investment into the sector.

Covid-19 update

We understand the creative sector needs support now more than ever, so we have changed our focus and delivery in order to continue with a meaningful and relevant offer.

Programme delivery has moved online, mentoring sessions and participation in the Peer Support Network is taking place via phone and video-conferencing.

The themes for peer support discussion and the training have been developed with scaling businesses in mind and include leadership, business strategy, access to finance, innovation, and communication.  However, we appreciate the need to now frame these around survival and resilience.

We now welcome applications from businesses who do not meet all the eligibility criteria. If you think you will benefit from what the programme offers, please apply.

About the programme

The programme will run until March 2021.

Each business on the programme will be part of a cohort and will receive a minimum of six months of intensive business support.

There is no financial cost for businesses taking part in the programme, just an expectation that business leaders will commit their time to engage with the activities on offer.

Businesses that are selected onto the programme will receive a package of creative sector specific business support tailored to the individual business, including:

  • £6,000 grant to spend on mentoring support;
  • A dedicated Peer Support Network facilitated by Gill Wildman (Watershed Business Development Advisor) and Mark Leaver (DIT Creative Industries Advisor);
  • Training tailored to the specific business development needs of the cohort;
  • The opportunity to pitch for a grant of up to £2,000 to spend on business development activity.

There will be further opportunity to engage with investors until the pilot programme ends in summer 2021. This is a competitive programme; we want to focus on investing in businesses that demonstrate genuine ambition to grow, innovate and contribute to the region’s economy.

We are working with local and national partners to mobilise the investor network for the benefit of the creative sector. This work involves building a better understanding of investor behaviour, educating investors on the opportunities to invest in creative businesses, and facilitating opportunities for businesses to meet with investors.

Cohort 1: Currently on the programme

Cohort 2: Application deadline has now closed. Cohort 2 will be announced soon

Cohort 3: Deadline for applications to join Cohort 3 is 31 July


Businesses applying to join the programme should:

  • Have a minimum of 8 employees, up to 4 of whom can be regular freelance staff
  • Have scaled by 10% in the last year (turnover or employees)
  • Have ambition to grow by at least 20% over the next 3 years
  • Be a Creative Industries business
  • Have not received More than Euro 200,000 in government funded business support in the last 2 years
  • Be based in the West of England (Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire)
  • Agree to participate in the activities and workshops of the programme


The Arcadia spider at a performance in Queens Square, Bristol

Credit: Arcadia in Queen Square Bristol

Creative Industries businesses are defined as those working in the following sectors:

  • Advertising & Marketing
  • Architecture
  • Arts & Culture
  • Craft
  • Createch (tech that is immersive or enables creativity, for example music software)
  • Design
  • Fashion
  • Gaming
  • Music
  • Publishing
  • TV and Film

How to apply

To express an interest in applying for the programme or to request further information, please contact: CreativeScaleUp@westofengland-ca.gov.uk

Please note, whilst we will prioritise applications that meet the criteria in a competitive decision process, we also welcome applications from companies who don’t quite fit the criteria but who demonstrate a strong case for growth.