West of England Combined Authority (WECA) have welcomed another 20 creative companies to the Creative Scale Up scheme. The scheme provides online peer mentoring support, helping them to respond to the impact of COVID-19.

News of the second cohort was announced by West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, via video on social media. The clip features a variety of businesses from the creative and cultural sector that the region is renowned for.

If you think your creative business would benefit from this dedicated support, make sure to apply to be a part of the next cohort. Email creativescaleup@westofengland-ca.gov.uk to request an application as soon as possible. The deadline to apply is 28 August!

Commenting on the news, Tim says, ‘I launched the Creative Scale Up programme to support our wonderful creative businesses to grow. In response to Covid-19 we’ve made crucial changes to the programme to ensure our creative sector gets the support it needs to survive and emerge stronger.

‘The entrepreneurs and artists we’re working with have told us it’s reminding them they’re not alone but part of wider network of creative businesses. I know our latest participants will also find new ways of working together to survive and thrive, cementing the West of England as an excellent home for the creative industries.’

The Creative Scale Up scheme is proving to be successful in helping businesses respond to the unique challenges presented by the pandemic, with business resilience being a key topic for the first cohort of 16 companies.

Carole Waller, co-director of Bath-based arts practice and gallery Waller and Wood, has gained valuable support from being part of the first cohort on the Creative Scale Up programme.

She says, ‘Creative Scale Up has been amazing for us – helping us to really focus on what’s next. It was very hard to stay focussed in the time of the pandemic, but the flexibility of the programme meant we could ‘pivot’ within it.’

Rupert Howe, co-founder of Bristol-based Stornaway, said that the peer support network was a huge help with launching their new product in the middle of lockdown – a ground-breaking drag and drop production tool for interactive and immersive content.

Rupert adds, ‘The Creative Scale Up peer mentoring programme was an invaluable community of practice.  It was fantastic to meet and develop connections with the leaders of such an unusually wide range of creative businesses. We have developed a few ongoing relationships with our peers which we hope will continue to be mutually beneficial.

‘As a result of the mentoring grant, we were able to find a world class mentor. Her insight and experience have helped us navigate the unknown waters of our early stage market. We hope that creative-focused investment opportunities continue to emerge as the scheme develops.’

Recruitment for the third round of the programme is open until 28 August, and offers support for firms across Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire including:

  • £6,000 grant to spend on mentoring
  • Dedicated peer support network
  • Training tailored to the specific business development needs.
  • Business development grants of up to £2,000.

The Creative Scale Up local steering board features local industry experts, all of whom are keen to support participants. It also draws on support available from national partners, including Creative England, Scale Up Institute, UK Business Angels Association and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

Creative businesses wishing to express an interest in joining the Creative Scale Up programme should email creativescaleup@westofengland-ca.gov.uk to request an application as soon as possible. The deadline to apply to be part of the next cohort is 28 August.

The Creative Scale Up programme is part of the West of England Combined Authority’s targeted business support programme to help kick-start the regional economy following the coronavirus outbreak. WECA’s wider economic development activity includes a range of business support, skills and employment initiatives. The Creative Scale Up programme, and other packages of support, can be accessed through WECA’s regional Growth Hub support offer which has been expanded to help businesses through Covid-19.

The Combined Authority’s focus is on rebuilding a strong regional economy, to enable long-term recovery for the West of England. The aim is to help businesses build their financial resilience, innovate and adopt best practice, and boost their productivity.

The second cohort of businesses are: Squarebird; Soap Creative; Noiser; Mangostone; Cirque Bijou; Invisible Circus; Moonraker; Village Design; Limbic Cinema; Moresoda; Factory Studios; Studio Diva; nymbl; Box 2 Media; Open Bionics; Funnel Music; Fleur of England; Uniquity; Motion Impossible and We Are The Collaborators.

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.