Get investment ready

The aim of the Black Founders Programme is to fast track a startup’s growth from a business and investment perspective.

The participating companies’ leadership team will work with Digital Catapult, industry experts and Sony Music UK to assess requirements and provide tailored support to increase the investment readiness level of each individual business.

Participating companies will also have a chance to benefit from dedicated sessions with Sony Music UK, whilst expanding their network of peers, investors and customers.

Benefits and support

No fees to take part

  • Applying to and participating in FutureScope is free.

A financial contribution to cover any additional costs

  • Each startup will receive an equal share of a £30,000 pot as a financial contribution towards any costs of completing the programme

Diagnostic sessions for tailored support

  • Business and investment health scans to determine current technological, commercial, investment and strategic needs

Coaching from industry experts

  • Workshops to develop and improve business planning, commercial strategy, pricing and positioning, operational processes and investment readiness

Grow your network

  • Networking and peer-to-peer opportunities
  • Introductions to industry leaders, relevant investors and potential customers

Mentoring and industry guidance from Sony Music Group

  • Multiple interaction opportunities will be available to support business growth & facilitate connections

What to expect

Across the 16-week programme, companies will participate in roughly 20+ hours of support activities that include:

  • Investment workshops
  • Investment office hours
  • Investment masterclasses
  • Pitching feedback session

  • Business growth masterclass
  • Digital entertainment masterclass
  • Cohort networking
  • Group coaching
  • Mentor/cohort mixer
  • Programme showcase event

Contact us 

We are holding Q&A session on Friday mornings during the application window. Please select a 15 minute slot here to speak to one of the FutureScope team about your application.

Who should apply?

The programme is inviting applications from UK based pre-seed and seed stage companies creating innovative products and services in the digital entertainment industry.

Applicants must have at least one founder that self-identifies as Black or multiracial with Black heritage.

Additional requirements include:

  • Applicants must be looking to raise investment in the next six to nine months
  • Applicants must be currently working within the digital entertainment space (for example, music, arts, gaming and advertising)

The programme is aimed at the businesses senior leadership team (e.g. founders, CEO) but support can be made available to the successful applicants more generally upon request.

To be considered, Digital Catapult supports companies using advanced digital technologies including:

  • Future networks and advanced digital infrastructure (internet of things including low powered wide area networks,NB-IoT, LIFI etc. and includes sensors, edge devices, wearables etc.)
  • Immersive technologies – extended reality (virtual, augmented, mixed reality and haptics)
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning (natural language processing, machine vision, deep learning)
  • Distributed ledger technologies (blockchain etc.)

  • Defining pre-seed & seed

    Pre-seed:Demonstrate that your business solves a customer problem. We expect that you kicked off your business with a small amount of funding. You are seeking funding that will help support your early product development. It’ll build the foundation of your business by funding an early team, operations, and the creation of a minimum viable product (MVP).

    Seed: Focuses more on developing and proving that your customers want your product. Companies at this stage should have proven the key value of their product. We expect that you have received some early stage funding from either individual investors or an early stage venture capital fund. The purpose of seed funding is to help founders develop product-market fit, drive sales, and identify key growth strategies and enable opportunities to grow.

  • Defining digital entertainment

    Music: business of creating, producing, recording, promoting, and selling music. It encompasses a wide range of professionals including musicians, singers, songwriters, producers, record labels, managers, agents, and various other related businesses such as concert venues and music retailers. It also includes streaming platforms, digital downloads and physical album sales.

    Gaming: development, production, and distribution of video games. This includes console games, PC games, mobile games, and online games. The gaming industry is a global, multi-billion dollar market that has grown significantly in recent years with the increasing popularity of mobile and online gaming, as well as the emergence of new technologies such as virtual reality and esports. The industry includes game developers, publishers, retailers, and esports tournament organisers.

    Advertising: creating, producing, and disseminating advertisements for commercial products or services. This includes a wide range of activities such as market research, product development, copywriting, graphic design, and media planning. Advertising can be delivered through various mediums such as television, radio, print, digital, and out-of-home (OOH) advertising. The industry is composed of agencies, advertisers, and media companies that work together to create and deliver advertisements to consumers. The industry has been evolving with the rise of digital technologies such as programmatic advertising, social media marketing and influencer marketing.

    Arts: refers to the creation, production, and distribution of various forms of artistic expression such as visual arts, performing arts, literature, and crafts. This includes but is not limited to visual arts like painting, sculpture, and photography, performing arts like theatre, music, and dance, and craft like ceramics, textile and jewellery. The industry includes artists, performers, writers, art galleries, museums, concert halls, theatres, and other venues that showcase and sell art. The industry also includes agents, managers, and other professionals who work behind the scenes to support the work of artists and performers. The industry has seen a shift in recent years with the rise of digital technologies, online platforms and e-commerce, making it easier for artists and performers to showcase and sell their work

Selection criteria

All applications will be assessed and scored against four key criteria of equal weighting.

Problem & Solution: 25%

The applicant should demonstrate that their company is addressing a clear problem, as well as applying advanced technologies to tackle the challenges in the selected focus areas.

Growth Potential: 25%

The company should be capable of identifying the key challenges they are facing in the market. They should be able to identify a clear use for potential future investment.

Business Strategy: 25%

The company should be able to articulate its revenue model, who its customers are and objectives for the future.

Ability to Execute: 25%

The company and its employees should have the necessary experience and skill to consistently develop, deliver and commercialise their solution.

Programme Partner

  • Sony Music Entertainment UK

    About Sony Music Entertainment UK

    Sony Music’s story began in 1887 with the formation of Columbia Records – the oldest surviving label in the recording industry.

    Today, Sony Music comprises a variety of record labels devoted to every genre of music, from rock and pop to classical, hip hop and R&B. They seek out the industry’s best artists and executives to create world-class music and audio entertainment.

    In the UK, Columbia, RCA, Ministry of Sound, Since ’93, Relentless, Black Butter, Insanity, 5K Records, Robots + Humans, WEAREBLK, Music For Nations and The Orchard are part of the Sony Music family and represent a hugely diverse roster of artists.

    They are joined by Commercial Group, home to our catalogue, merchandise and family division Magic Star and 4th Floor Creative, which comprises Brand Partnerships, Sync, Visual Creative, Podcasting, Digital and Audience Development.

    Sony Music Entertainment UK is part of Sony Music Group, a global recorded music and publishing company, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America. The company represents a vast global catalogue, including some of the most important recordings in history.

    The Chairman and CEO of Sony Music UK & Ireland is Jason Iley.

    Read more about Sony Music’s commitment to social justice through the UK Social Justice Fund here

Register here

FutureScope is delivered by Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology.