£80m University funding for Creatives Clusters

This blog provides a summary overview of the Art and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)’s new call for Universities and Companies in the Creative Industries to bid for support for a new government backed fund.

NOTE: You will need to act fast to be part of this program’s initial call briefings are taking place in October 2017 and expressions of interest at the end of this month.

The AHRC Creative Industries Clusters Programme is an £80 million-plus research and development investment to establish eight Research & Development Partnerships in existing creative clusters across the UK, along with a Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre to provide insight and independent analysis on the creative industries that will be of national and international significance.

For this blog we have selected the key points relevant to creative freelancers, micro companies and SME’s working in the creative sector.

To view the full  call for proposals please go to https://ceprogramme.com/#ccp

To attend the briefing on this call for bids please attend one of the briefing sessions listed here http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/newsevents/events/calendar/creative-industries-clusters-briefing-events/

“Our investments will focus on early-stage, risky research and development where funding is often difficult to obtain. However, the innovations produced by our investment must have the potential to contribute to commercial outcomes.

The aim of the Programme is to establish and develop industry-focused R&D Partnerships linked to existing creative clusters, anchored in a lead Higher Education Institution(HEI).

For the purposes of this Programme, a ‘cluster’ is defined as either a geographical concentration of interconnected creative enterprises, organisations or institutions; or a sector-based collection of entities that operate in specific fields but do not necessarily fall within pre-existing recognised boundaries (e.g. government office regions).”                                                        AHRC Pre Call Announcement – Final Call

The Creative Cluster Programme

A maximum of eight Research and Development Partnerships (R&D Partnerships –

Each led by an HEI located anywhere in the UK. Creative R&D partnerships will bring together HEIs, creative industries businesses and other key stakeholders.

Funding £6-9m per partnership(incl. minimum of 33.3 per cent matched funding) with an AHRC contribution of £4-6m FEC for 54 months(October 2016-March 2023)

A Policy and Evidence Centre for the Creative Industries Sector – _led by and HEI or recognized independent Research Organisation, this will offer independent analysis on the creative industries for business and policy makers, identify research gaps, and co-ordinate data and analysis on the key challenges for the sector.

Funding Minimum £8m (incl. min 25% matched funding) with an AHRC contribution of £5m FEC for 57 months (July 2018 – March 2023)

NOTE: This Centre will no directly involve creative companies in its bid.

Areas for R&D Research within the Cluster Programme

  1. New Business Models and IP

Creative industry businesses rely not just on their ability to create new intellectual property but, critically, on their ability to extract value from it.

2. Collaboration

How do universities need to evolve to effect productive collaboration with the creative industries?


What needs to be done to align incubators, public and private investors, financial service providers and the research sector to provide innovative new products, services and experiences with the widest access to capital and investment to scale up and reach the market? How can specific product and service innovations opportunities provide evidence for and drive the need for change?

4. International Trade

How can regulators, the creative industries and the research base work together to ensure businesses continue to access the people, skills, supply and distribution chains they need to thrive and grow trade opportunities? How can specific products or services illustrate the potential for this?

5. Diversity & Equality

How can new innovation models and industry/research partnerships break down this pattern and deliver wider access and opportunity for the diverse creative talent of the UK?

6. Skills Shortage

A demand for new skills is being created by new technology-enabled modes of creativity, evolving markets for new kinds of products and changing ways of engaging audiences and consumers. How can partnerships between industry and universities lead the way in fusing the creative, digital, STEM and entrepreneurial skills of a new workforce equipped to span research and industry?

Key Points in Application/Bid

There needs to be a clear strategy based on evidence of the strengths of the creative cluster the University/ies will be working within; how these issues and opportunities impact (as opportunities or threats) on that geographical or sectoral grouping, and to provide the basis of how a strong industry/HEI research partnership will address this.

Successful proposals will convincingly reference the above opportunities and threats for the sector and may provide arguments based around other dynamics of change.

The bid will need to :-

  1. Focus on one or more specific challenge in the development of products, services and/or experiences. The challenge must be capable of being delivered by the cluster.
  2. The Partnerships will develop appropriate, optimal modes of working between business and the research base; offer innovative R&D opportunities to help shape a new type of industry-focused researcher; and develop the new highly skilled multidisciplinary workforce that the sector needs to compete on the global stage.
  3. The partnerships will need to demonstrate strong leadership from both the HE sector and industry, and will be led by an appropriately qualified individual with a demonstrable and relevant track record, based at an HEI eligible to hold Research Council funding
  4. HEI have to have HEIF allocation based upon an eternal income in excess of £250k.


Call document published Late September 2017
Statement of intent submission deadline Late October 2017
Stage 1 deadline December 2017
Stage 2 deadline April 2018
Stage 2 assessment and interviews June 2018
Announcement of successful Creative R&D Partnerships July 2018
Launch of the Creative R&D Partnerships October 2018



This entry was posted in Creative Collaboration, Creative Education, Creative industries, Creative Policy, Funding. Bookmark the permalink.