• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £14m in projects that stimulate innovation in the UK digital media sector.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £14m

  • Opens: 23 Sep 2013

  • Registration closes: 06 Nov 2013

  • Closes: 13 Nov 2013

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Cross-platform production in digital media - Collaborative R&D

Summary

The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £15m in projects that stimulate innovation in the UK digital media sector. 
 
The competition aims to support projects addressing convergence in digital technologies, and covers film and television, online video, animation and video games (including pre-production, production and post-production processes, particularly in visual effects technologies). 
 
Projects must be business-led. The competition will fund feasibility studies as well as collaborative R&D projects. 
 
Collaborative R&D projects of two or more partners will attract up to 50% public funding of their eligible project costs (60% for SMEs). We expect collaborative R&D projects to range in size from £300k to £2m, though we may consider larger projects. Projects should last between 12 and 24 months. 
 
Up to £1m of the total funding will be made available for single business-led feasibility studies. These may attract up to 65% public funding of eligible project costs (75% for SMEs). We expect feasibility study projects to range in size from £100k to £120k, and to last between six and 12 months. 
 
The collaborative R&D and feasibility study elements of this competition both open on 23 September 2013. The deadline for registration for both is 6 November 2013, and the deadline for completed feasibility studies applications and collaborative R&D expressions of interest is noon on 13 November 2013. A briefing event for both strands will take place on 30 September 2013. This event will be filmed and turned into a webinar for applicants to refer to. 
 

Background

The UK is home to world-class creative media businesses that are at the cutting edge of technological innovation across the audio-visual industries, including film, television, animation, video games, interactive media and visual effects (VFX). 
 
These strengths have been fundamental in making the UK a leading global centre for film, television and games development; after Los Angeles and Mumbai, London is the third biggest production centre in the world, with 14,000 film and TV ‘shooting days' in 2011 alone. 
 
In the same year, inward investment in the sector set a new record with over £1bn spent, while the recent announcement that the next Star Wars film will be made in the UK is indicative of the reputation the sector has earned. At the same time, the UK's video games industry is the largest in Europe, with more than £2bn in global sales. 
 
At the heart of this success has been a combination of technical expertise and creativity, drawing on strengths in fields ranging from computer science and engineering through to music composition, performance and fine art. But the media landscape of the twenty-first century is increasingly competitive. In an international market characterised by continuing disruptive change in the production process, UK businesses must continue to innovate: to develop new applications, tools, devices and software that extend the toolset available to creative professionals, and increase their productivity. 
 
The aim of this competition is to stimulate the innovation that will enable the UK to retain its position as a global leader in digital technologies, by encouraging businesses to experiment, thereby taking risks and making the technological breakthroughs that will drive creative and commercial success. We are looking for ambitious projects that have the potential to significantly enhance the UK's international position over the long term, and to secure further inward investment. 
 

Scope

Production is at the heart of this competition, and successful applications will address the technical challenges of producing creative content across a range of media and devices, and on different platforms.
 
With consumers accessing content in an increasing variety of ways, we are interested in applications that address the fragmentation brought about by new devices and networks, and new contexts in which content can be consumed. Likewise, this competition encourages exploration of the production opportunities that arise from new digital technologies in audio and visual effects production. 
 
Successful projects will lead to one or more of the following: 
  • tools or applications that address the challenges of creating content, narratives and story worlds concurrently across different media environments 
  • tools or applications that enable the integration of pre-production, production and post-production processes into a single production stage for content creation 
  • solutions or services that help to create and manage a complex array of digital assets and metadata, allowing for their deployment in different content formats, for instance in movies and games, and for use in different contexts
  • tools, interfaces or applications that allow content producers and consumers to interact seamlessly, and in real time, with high-definition digital assets and content, such as audio, video, CGI, digital characters and objects, without sacrificing rendering and playback capabilities 
  • solutions that lead to an increase in production-related workflow efficiency and iteration, and that address the challenges of concurrent content creation and production across different platforms. 
 

Funding and project details

The Technology Strategy Board has allocated up to £15m for this competition, to fund both feasibility studies and collaborative R&D projects that are in line with the scope above. The collaborative R&D element is split into two rounds, the first of which opens in September 2013 and the second in December 2014. Details of the second round, which will take account of developments from the first round, will be published nearer its opening date. 
 

Collaborative R&D 

Collaborative R&D projects must be business-led, although project partners can include any mix of businesses of various sizes and academic organisations. We anticipate that project sizes may be on a widely ranging scale, typically between £300k and £2m, and we expect collaborative R&D projects to last between 12 and 24 months. Grants awarded to collaborative R&D projects will be for up to 50% of a project's eligible costs (60% for SMEs). The amount of grant funding awarded to each project will depend upon the number and type of partners in the consortia. Academic participation will be capped at 30% of the overall project costs.
 
Definitions of eligible costs and research categories, financial information on overheads and capital expenditure, and guidance on how to answer questions on the application form can be found in the Guidance for Applicants section of the competition website. 
 

Application process

The competition involves separate application processes for feasibility studies and collaborative R&D projects. 
 
Collaborative R&D applications will be assessed through a two-stage process that opens for expressions of interest on 23 September 2013 and closes at noon on 13 November 2013. Shortlisted applicants will be informed on 2 December 2013, and invited to submit a full-stage application. The full stage will open on 2 December 2013 and close on 15 January 2014. For applications for grants greater than £2m, we may require applicants to present their proposals to an interview panel, on 24 February 2014. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their full-stage application on 11 March 2014. Successful projects should be ready to begin by May 2014. 
 
Dates, scope and further information for the December 2014 round of the competition will be published nearer its opening. 
 

Looking for partners to work on your project?

Go to _connect to find collaborators and networks. 
 
NB for general guidance, see how projects are funded
 

More information

To apply for this competition you must first register with us. When you register you will get access to all the supporting information you need before you apply, including the Guidance for Applicants and the application form. 
 
Additional information is available from the dedicated _connect group for this competition. 
 
In parallel with this competition, Creative Skillset has launched its Challenge Fund, part of the Skills Investment Fund (SIF), which is an industry investment fund for skills, talent and business development in the film, high-end TV, animation, games and VFX industries.
 
The Technology Strategy Board is collaborating with Creative Skillset to promote this fund. We encourage applicants to this competition to consider the potential of integrating skills, talent and business development into their R&D process. 
 
A total of up to £8m is available in the Challenge Fund, and it can be accessed up to March 2015, with employers in the film, high-end TV, animation, games and VFX industries receiving funding from £10k up to £1m. The funds will be made available to individual employers or consortia of employers to boost skills and develop talent in their companies. 
 
Activities supported through the Challenge Fund may include, but are not limited to: 
  • work experience 
  • internships 
  • apprenticeships 
  • intensive training schemes 
  • management and leadership programmes 
  • shadowing and mentoring programmes 
  • professional development of employees and freelancers. 
 
See further information on the Challenge Fund
 

Publicity

As part of the application process, all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive. 
 
The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the award is confirmed as final. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.
 
E-mail pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk with any queries. 
 

Key dates

CR&D projects applications 

  • Competition opens for expressions of interest: 23 September 2013 
  • Briefing event and webinar: 30 September 2013 
  • Registration deadline: 6 November 2013
  • Competition closes for expressions of interest: Noon, 13 November 2013 
  • Applicants notified of results: 2 December 2013 
  • Competition opens for invited full-stage applications: 2 December 2013 
  • Competition closes for full-stage applications: Noon, 15 January 2014 
  • Interview for applicants with proposals for grants over £2m: 24 February 2014 
  • Notification of results of full-stage applications: 11 March 2014