Funding the UK’s creative sector companies is no mean feat. Research tells us time and again that accessing finance is a major challenge for the Creative Industries and that commonly-held misconceptions hold many investors back.
We see this first-hand through the provisioning of the Creative Growth Finance (CGF) debt fund and the experiences shared by company founders and CEOs. The companies that we invest in (over £12 million thus far) tend to have experienced similar challenges when seeking finance from traditional lenders. These businesses – which produce some truly innovative and, indeed profitable, work – are seen as high risk because they are creative and (it is assumed) unpredictable.
And yet, our portfolio companies have flourished through trying times and demonstrated the considerable value of their resourcefulness and creativity in coming through covid and the recession. We’re lucky enough to have some of the founders of these companies share their experiences during the Challenging Economy: Surviving and Thriving session taking place as part of the festival on 2 March at 15:00.
Speakers on this panel from our investment portfolio will include Shira Jeczmien, CEO and Founder of Gen Z media company, SCREENSHOT Media. SCREENSHOT is one of the newer additions to our portfolio and was founded just five years ago. It’s going from strength to strength despite being only two years old when the pandemic hit.
The session will also include Sue McHugh, co-founder of Manchester-based Carbon Digital: a virtual production studio making waves in the northwest. Sue and her husband Paul have been in the production business for over 20 years and have a lot to say about accessing finance as a creative business. Last year, Carbon Digital’s Recode XR Studio provided the virtual production technology which facilitated Coronation Street’s biggest storyline and supported enhanced sustainable filming practices.
Shira and Sue will be joined by other members of the CGF portfolio, all of whom have different tales to tell regarding investment and toughing it out through the hard times; from Adam Bennett who set up post-production company Sticks and Glass mid-pandemic, through to Create Health and Studio Giggle – two creative companies that came through the 2007/8 recession stronger. You can attend the panel for free by registering here.
In our second investment session, The Role of Investment in the Immersive Economy, we will be taking a closer look at the fast-growing immersive economy by talking to some of the most exciting players on the scene. The immersive economy is much more than gaming, with applications across all fields, from events to films and even health tech. The panel for this session will include CGF investee Darren Hopkins of Dimension Studio, a world leader in volumetric capture whose £1 million CGF investment has supported their growth and involvement in major projects like the Whitney Huston biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
The panel will take place on Friday 3 March at 12:00 and features a truly diverse cast of speakers. Graham McVoy from Bristol amazement park, Wake The Tiger, will share his experience of funding an interactive theme park, while Michael Gandham of Arcus Studios brings a regional perspective having benefitted from Creative UK’s North of Tyne investment. The backgrounds of other speakers include live events and Unreal engine specialism. We will also hear from Nathan Newman of Pathway XR Studio, which has recently launched an incubator for virtual production media innovation.
With such a diverse range of businesses and backgrounds, we expect the investment sessions to offer up some fantastic insights. If you have registered for the festival you can take part by joining the live chat and submitting your questions in real-time. Just sign up for free, here.