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Funding for SMEs (startups, small and medium size businesses)

This is a list of funding opportunities for UK games and digital projects; this does not include grants, they are covered in our post on grant funding in the UK . We have lightly touched on equity investment options, but only where they are project focused, government supported, or offer equity investment as part of a broader offering.

There are many funding opportunities aside from grants available to UK companies. Where grant funding requires match funding, sometimes these funding options can be used as that match, and many companies access multiple different sources of finance for their business growth or specific projects.

We try to make this list as comprehensive and up to date as possible, if we have missed any please contribute and contact us .

 

NATIONAL

Tesseract Fund and Kuju Startups: These both offer project financing using SEIS. SEIS is the UK Government’s Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme that offers tax relief to investors who invest in startup, higher risk companies. Whilst SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) is for equity investment, SEIS funds have been setup as project financing, where a Special Purpose Vehicle company is setup to hold the project and it’s IP, and it is in this entity that the SEIS fund and the company owners take equity. SEIS has a limit of £150k, most funds take an admin charge from this, so funding tends to be around £120k-140k.

Standfast Interactive: Project financing for games, larger amounts available compared to Tesseract or Kuju Startups.

Games tax relief: UK Government tax relief against games production. Companies and their projects must pass the ‘cultural test’, which looks at whether the game is primarily being produced in the UK, and if it has other cultural relevance. Companies can get 25% of eligible expenditure back, and can claim during production, they do not have to wait until the project is complete. For more info see UKIE’s guide to UK Games Tax Relief

R&D tax credits: UK Government tax relief against technology R&D. In many cases games companies now use games tax relief as offers more relief against more of production, however for specific technology research and development, this tax relief is still useful.

UK Government startup loans: The UK Government does offer startup loans; however, these are personal loans, not business loans. Up to £25k available, not interest free.

Banks: Can be an option, but often require established companies or a lot of security. Overdrafts, loans, credit cards and invoice finance (where they advance you the money on an invoice you have already sent out) are the most common. High-street and online banks both offer various options.

Enterprise Finance Guarantee: This scheme, run by the British Business Bank, and aimed at helping companies to get business loans, particularly where they have been turned down due to lack of security.

 

REGIONAL

Finance Wales: Provides funding in the form of micro-loans, loans and equity investment. From £1k to £2m.

S4C Digital & Commercial (Wales): Invests up to £150k in companies in return for equity, but they as well as investing in projects that have primarily commercial potential, they also invest in projects with public value and those that assist with their digital strategy.

Finance Birmingham.

Have various funds for Birmingham based businesses including:

Birmingham City Council Loan Fund: From £100k to £1m loans for businesses to grow and create jobs.

Various Equity Funds: For different stages from early stage tech companies to larger established businesses.

North East Finance Microloan Fund: Offers various funding from loans to equity investment, including loans from £1k to £25k to new or existing businesses in the north east.

Screen Yorkshire’s Yorkshire Content Fund: Can match private investment with equity or loans.

 Creative England business loans: currently closed but another round may open. Interest free loans over 3 years, up to £200k. This Option is not available for companies in the South East.

Scottish Enterprise

Runs several programs, including:

Scottish Venture Fund and Co-Investment Funds: where they invest in companies alongside private investment partners, providing up to 50% of the funding.

 Scottish Loan Fund: Providing loans from £250k to £5m to Scottish companies.

 

CROWDFUNDING

 Defined as the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a new business venture, Crowd funding has become increasingly popular with game concepts like Star citizen raising $70+million and Pillars of Eternity reaching nearly $4million from 73,986 backers. Although crowd funding can be very effective, it is by no means an easier option. Most crowdfunding is investment in a project, but some is equity investment into a business.

 

 

ACCELERATORS

 Accelerators are typically 2–6 month program aimed at preparing your startup for investment. There is some funding available through accelerators but the real focus is on mentoring, support and networking during and after the program. Most of these programs have access to extremely experienced mentors and an extensive network of investors and publishers.

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