ISCF Audience of the Future Challenge: the AotF Immersive Technology Investment Accelerator
Applications have now closed.
The current phase of Audience of the Future Challenge launched in March 2019, with a new co-investment fund which aims to support the commercial development of significant innovation in the UK immersive tech sector through simultaneous grant funding and venture capital investment in UK creative businesses. Stage 2 of this competition, aimed at small and medium businesses, launched on 20 May 2019.
About the AotF Immersive Technology Investment Accelerator
The immersive tech sector is developing rapidly but the finance and investment ecosystem remains undeveloped. A fast growing but nascent and uncertain consumer market place is driving uncertainty with investors.
The Audience of the Future (AotF) Immersive Technology Investment Investor Accelerator aims to provide the runway for later stage capital and equity investment beyond grant funding and enable early stage companies to get direct access to the commercial acumen and market access opportunities that equity investors provide.
The AotF Immersive Technology Investment Accelerator is a pilot programme from Innovate UK.
Up to £2M of grant funding and a comparable amount of private investment is available to support business led R&D and to invest in companies in the creative industries that have real potential for growth through:
Creating and capturing additional value from the production of immersive content, IP or experiences through the application of technology
Developing a scalable road map in products, platforms, services, software, hardware and tools in immersive technology
The competition recognises the potential value of creative companies who are also driving innovation through the use of immersive technologies in other industries within the B2B and B2C market places.
The programme aims to provide the runway for later stage capital and equity investment beyond grant funding, introduces new investors to the growing UK Immersive tech market place and supports existing sector investors to invest earlier in R&D.
The AotF Immersive Technology Investment Accelerator provides simultaneous grant funding and venture capital investment for early stage projects:
Innovate UK funds the R&D being carried out by company;
Investors invest in the company itself.
It consists of two competition stages: stage 1 for investors (opened 4 March 2019), stage 2 for UK-based SMEs working with immersive technologies (opened 20 May 2019)
Up to £2m of funding is available for industrial R&D; projects’ total costs can be between £150,000 and £300,000
The Investor Accelerator will fund up to 70% of eligible project costs in grant funding for micro or small businesses (under 50 employees) and up to 60% for medium-sized businesses (50 – 250 employees)
Investors commit to exploring co-investment in the portfolio of companies selected in Stage 2 at 30% for SME / Micro and 40% for middle size companies
The competition is open to single SMEs who are looking for grant funding and who want to establish an equity relationship with a UK venture capital firm. The funding on offer should help businesses move closer towards a proposition that is commercially viable.
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
To be considered for funding your application must receive a high enough score from Innovate UK’s independent assessors. You must also secure private investment from one of the investor partners listed in the supporting information section.
Is your business eligible?
Any one business can only make one application to this competition. Businesses who apply must be prepared for investment. Applicants must also:
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.
Is your project eligible?
Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £150,000 and £300,000
Projects must start by 1 January 2020 and end by 31 December 2020, and can last up to 1 year.
You are encouraged to contact the investor partners before submitting your application. This will help you to find out if they wish to invest in your company and if they can offer the right fit and add value to your business.
Investors who successfully applied to partner in the Investment Accelerator include: