UK Digital Catapult launches black entrepreneurs support scheme
UK tech accelerator Digital Catapult has partnered with Sony Music UK to launch an initiative to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and start-ups in digital entertainment.
The FutureScope Black Founders Programme will help level the playing field for Black founders of early-stage start-ups by improving their access to networks and resources needed to raise startup funding.
This new initiative is designed to provide positive impact for those are exploring advanced digital technologies (such as 5G, artificial intelligence/machine learning, virtual and/or augmented reality, distributed ledger technologies, or quantum) within the field of digital entertainment, including music, arts, entertainment and gaming.
According to the Digital Catapult, over the course of 16 weeks it will provide up to 10 start-up founders with tailored masterclasses and workshops to help increase their investment readiness and provide them with bespoke mentoring from entertainment and advanced technology experts.
The programme will also provide networking opportunities to support their business growth journey.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), figures found the creative industries contributed £115.9 billion to the UK economy in 2019. Figures published by the British Film Institute in February 2023 showed a record £6.27bn invested in UK film and TV production, and research published by UK Music stated that the music industry contributes £4bn to the UK economy.
However, over half (62%) of Black founders said they have found it increasingly difficult to raise venture capital, according to research from Atomico, an international investment firm.
77% of Black founders disagreed that the European tech system is fair, and only 38 Black founders received venture capital funding between 2009 and 2019, just 0.24% of the total sum invested.
“Our hope is that this programme can go some way towards helping to solve the multitude of structural challenges that Black founders face in the tech ecosystem,” said Justin Cross, director of Innovation Practice, Digital Catapult.
“The programme will provide tailored investment advice and – crucially – frontline industry expertise that will help participants develop their business,” added Dorothy Hui, SVP Digital and Audience Development, Sony Music UK’s 4th Floor Creative.
Elsewhere, the DCMS announced a £23 million fund earlier this years to create more AI and data conversion courses aimed at supporting people from underrepresented backgrounds.
This new programme will be supported by ‘Musiio by SoundCloud’ and will feature engagement from startup experts and investors from Kinhub, Sure Valley Ventures, and FOC Ventures, alongside mentorship from digital entertainment specialists at Sony Music Group, and deep tech expertise from Digital Catapult’s technologists.
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