Overview

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will award up to £2 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Audience of the Future programme. This is for immersive technology research and development (R&D) projects.

This investment accelerator competition is for UK-based micro, small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who are looking for grant funding and who want to establish an equity relationship with a UK venture capital firm.

Scope

Despite the growth of the immersive technology market, the finance and investment ‘ecosystem’ is undeveloped, particularly for early stage companies that need seed funding to support R&D and grow. This competition aims to address this by:

  • encouraging early-stage private investment in innovative immersive content, products, platforms, services, software and hardware, to give companies greater confidence that investment will continue after the project funding
  • giving management teams more time to run the business rather than continually chasing investment
  • removing the need to find match funding
  • giving companies direct access to investment partners’ commercial skills, knowledge and market opportunities

Your project must deliver innovation in one or more of the following areas:

  • the creation and capture of future value from the production of immersive content, intellectual property (IP) or experiences through the adoption and implementation of immersive technology
  • the development of tools, products, platforms or services for the creation, delivery or distribution of immersive content
  • the development of new software, hardware and/or development methodology that will enable immersive content to be created faster, more efficiently or in new ways

Specific immersive, multisensory or interactive experiences mediated through technologies include:

  • virtual, mixed and augmented reality
  • haptics
  • advanced visualisation
  • other sensory interfaces

Your project can focus on one or more of the following:

  • enhancing, extending or transforming the immersive audience experience
  • new immersive content production tools, software and systems
  • VR, AR and other digital technologies to deepen and enrich the immersive experience

Eligibility

To apply you must:

  • be a UK-based micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) working with immersive technology, this can include spin-out companies
  • carry out your R&D project activity in the UK
  • intend to commercially exploit the results in or from the UK
  • apply as a single company, as collaborations are not permitted

Eligible SMEs can be:

  • producing immersive content
  • delivering new immersive products, software and services
  • developing new immersive platforms, hardware or devices

Businesses applying into this competition are expected to be prepared for investment. Investment readiness resources and support can be found with Immerse UK.

Funding Costs

Up to £2 million in grant funding has been allocated to be used alongside the equity investment from the investor partners in this competition.

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you can get 100% funding for your eligible project costs. Innovate UK will fund:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business

The remaining funds must be provided by one of our listed investor partners through equity investment or convertible loans. You must agree the terms of the investment with the investor partner you wish to work with.

It must be a new investment into your business and cannot come from an existing investment or from your existing balance sheet. If you already have investment from one of our listed investors you can still apply, but again, this must be new money.

Exclusions

Innovate UK will not fund projects that cover:

  • the development of new creative content, no matter how new or cross genre it might be
  • one-off artistic or creative projects
  • projects that are not part of your company’s plan for business growth