1.1 The Programme

Delivered by Digital Catapult, as part of the FutureScope cross-technology acceleration programme (“Programme”), the Grow Track supports early-stage businesses developing innovative and commercially focused digital solutions (“Participants”). The Grow Track aims to provide Participants with business and investment mentorship, workshops and support to confidently pitch their ideas directly to industry and investors.

The FutureScope Black Founders Programme aims to assist Black founders in overcoming the structural barriers that impede their access to funding and hinder their ability to successfully commercialise their ventures. It will provide up to 10 startup founders with tailored masterclasses and workshops to enable them to prepare for investment conversations and increase their investment readiness; bespoke mentoring from entertainment and advanced technology experts; and peer networking opportunities to help build a support network for their business’ growth journey.

This is the first programme from Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology, specifically aimed at providing positive impact for Black founders who 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).

This programme comes at a time when in the UK, Black startup founders receive dramatically lower venture capitalist investments than their peers, receiving 0.2% of overall funding.[1] This share of funding received by Black founders also decreases during the various stages of investment compared to other ethnicities – from 1.9% at seed stage, to 0.5% at later stages.[2]  Moreover, between 2009 and 2019, only 38 businesses run by Black entrepreneurs received venture capital.[3] To account for the lack of VC capital, the majority (88%) of Black founders financed their companies using their own money or by receiving funding from family and friends[4].

Recognising the barriers that many Black founders of startups in the UK face, literature from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Department of Business and Trade has identified solutions to provide more equity to Black founders. These suggested solutions include catalytic capital at the fund level and purposeful change in investors’ investment processes.[5]

With solutions of this vein in mind, and the investment in Black founded startups historically being low in the UK, showing little sign of improvement without intervention, FutureScope Black founders programme seeks to change this cycle through providing opportunities for an equitable playing field

[1] Diversity Beyond Gender By Erika Brodnock Co-founder and Head of Research, Extend Ventures The State of the Nation for Diverse Entrepreneurs

[2]  Diversity Beyond Gender By Erika Brodnock Co-founder and Head of Research, Extend Ventures The State of the Nation for Diverse Entrepreneurs

[3] https://sifted.eu/articles/black-entrepreneurs-vc-funding/

[4]  https://sifted.eu/articles/black-entrepreneurs-vc-funding/

[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/barriers-to-capital-flow-for-black-female-entrepreneurs


1.2 Digital Catapult

Digital Catapult is the UK authority on advanced digital technology. Through collaboration and innovation, we accelerate industry adoption to drive growth and opportunity across the economy.

We bring together an expert and enterprising community of researchers, startups, scaleups and industry leaders to discover new ways to solve the big challenges limiting the UK’s future potential. Through our specialist programmes and experimental facilities, we make sure that innovation thrives, and the right solutions make it to the real world.

Our goal is to accelerate new possibilities in everything we do and for every business we partner with the journey – breaking down barriers, de-risking innovation, opening up markets and responsibly shaping the products, services and experiences of the future.

Digital Catapult works with organisations on projects involving at least one of the technologies from its “Advanced Digital Technology Stack”: Artificial Intelligence, Immersive, Internet of Things, Distributed Ledger Technologies and 5G/Future Networks.


1.3 The Programme Judges

During the application stage, the judges will be responsible for scoring the applications according to the process and criteria set out in these Competition Terms. The judges will be chosen based on (i) their experience and expertise, and (ii) ability to exercise independent judgment. The Programme Judges comprise:

  1. Internal Judges: A number of judges from Digital Catapult will help judge the applications.
  2. Programme Collaboration Partner Judges: A number of judges from Sony Music.


1.4 The Programme Partners

Sony Music Entertainment UK and Musiio Pte Limited are partnering with Digital Catapult to deliver the Programme (Programme Industry Partners). During the Programme, Programme Industry Partners may include support the Programme through delivery of relevant workshops, hosting office hours, and/or through providing discounted services or products.


1.5 Applicants & Participants

You are considered an “Applicant” if you apply to this competition.

You are considered a “Participant” if you are successful with your application and complete all pre-Project activities (e.g. signing the Participation Agreement).


Digital Catapult is unique in its ability to connect high potential companies with established businesses, investors, government and public sector, research and academia – to discover new ways of solving industry challenges, increasing productivity and opening up new markets.

Across the programme, a range of sessions and events are provided to support participants in scaling their commercial, operational and technical activity.

These include:

  • Diagnostic Sessions – 1:1 sessions with experts and mentors to determine your current business and investment needs.
  • Investment guidance – Business and investment support, based on the findings of your diagnostic sessions, including sessions with experienced investors.
  • No fees or equity required – Applying to and participating in FutureScope is free, and Digital Catapult does not ask for equity in return for support.
  • Potential for funding opportunities – Successful completion of the Black Founders programme can open the door to potential funding opportunities as part of our FutureScope alumni community.
  • Peer Support – Build relationships, share insights, and collaborate on projects with other non competing entrepreneurs through group coaching sessions and networking events.
  • Masterclasses & mentoring from Digital Entertainment experts – Learn from Sony Music UK and other arts, music, gaming and advertising specialists and build your network. Develop and improve business planning, commercial strategy, pricing and positioning, operational processes and investment readiness.
  • Access to state-of-the-art facilities & deep tech expertise – Visit one or more of our facilities including our immersive labs, SONIC labs and more. Learn how our facilities can support your business upon completion of the FutureScope programme.
  • A financial contribution towards Participant costs to complete the programme – £3,000
  • A programme final showcase during which the FutureScope participants will present and network with an invited audience of investors, partners and industry representatives.
  • The opportunity to join the Digital Catapult alumni network, which keeps them informed of opportunities and relevant updates from the Digital Catapult, and additional opportunities to engage with Digital Catapult and other alumni.


Participants must be willing to commit to the following key obligations:

  • Attend the kick-off event hosted by Digital Catapult and Sony Music UK.
  • Attend the majority of the workshops and webinars, hosted by Digital Catapult from July to November 2023.
  • Attend and provide relevant information for the Business Health Scan
  • Attend and present project outcomes at the final event in October/November. Digital Catapult may record the presentations, snippets of which may be shared on our social media channels (in consultation with you).
  • Participants shall complete the Digital Catapult’s EDI Survey (please note each question will have a “prefer not to say” option).
  • Participant agrees to be visibly (name and logo) associated with the Programme, whilst on the Programme, and afterwards as a former participant and beneficiary.  This includes marketing collateral, such as website, print and digital materials.
  • For a maximum period of five years following the Project end date, Participant shall use its reasonable endeavours to answer specific questions from Digital Catapult relating to its growth and progress to assist Catapult demonstrate the impact of its activities. This shall include: (i) participation in an annual telephone conversation of one hour, and (ii) participation in a two early survey issued by Digital Catapult.


4.1 Minimum Requirements

  • Applicants must have a UK business bank account for any payments to be made.
  • Applicants must be a UK based registered company, or prove they are a company that has an establishment in the UK, and undertake all activity in the UK.
  • Applicants must have at least one founder that self-identifies as Black or multiracial with Black heritage.
  • Applicants must be currently working within the digital entertainment space (for example, music, arts gaming and advertising).
  • Applicants must be exploring advanced digital technologies e.g. 5G, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, distributed ledger technologies and quantum.

4.2 What we’re looking for

We are looking for organisations with a pre-existing product that are interested in experimenting with advanced digital technologies to innovate the digital entertainment space.


  • Open Call – Applications Open – 25th April 2023
  • Open Call – Application Deadline – Monday 29th May 2023
  • Interviews – 13th – 20th June 2023
  • Intended notification of all Applicants – Week commencing 19th  June 2023
  • Contracting: 26th June – 14th July 2023
  • Intended public announcement of successful Participants: Week commencing 17th July
  • Programme:
    • Start Date: 17th July 2023
    • Programme Kick Off Event – 20th July 2023
    • Business & Investment Health Scans – 24th – 28th July 2023
    • End Date: 17th  November 2023


6.1 What information should my application contain?

Applicants must answer all required questions in the full online application form.


6.2 Who will see my Application?

The following people will see your application:

Catapult Representatives: Relevant Catapult representatives will see your application in order to assess the application, and otherwise in the administration of your application and, if successful, participation on the Programme.

The Programme Judges will see your full application, except for your company name and personal information fields. 


6.3 Key contact

Applicant will appoint a main contact for the Programme (“Key Contact”). This person will be Digital Catapult’s main point of contact for the competition and, if successful, Applicant’s Programme activities, including: workshop and event commitments, team members’ availability, ongoing activities, and assessment of progress during and after the Programme.

Digital Catapult will use this personal information for the purpose of carrying out due diligence on Applicants prior to the point of selection onto the Programme and to notify successful and unsuccessful Applicants over their submissions. The personal data we collect may be shared with and processed by Programme Partners for the purpose of assessing the Applications and for the provision of benefits to the Participants on the Programme, as set out in these Competition Terms.


6.4 Submitting your application

You must submit your application via the Submittable form (“Submission Method”).

All applications must be submitted via the Submission Method by the Application Deadline.

Once your completed application has been received, Digital Catapult will send you a confirmation receipt by email. If you do not get a receipt within twenty four (24) hours of the next working day, please email us at [email protected] with the subject ” FutureScope Black Founders Programme: Application Submission”.


6.5 Digital Catapult’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Survey

In addition to your application, you will be required to complete Digital Catapult’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Survey (‘Survey’). Whilst the completion of this Survey is mandatory, please note that your responses to this Survey will be kept separately from your application and will have no effect whatsoever on your application to the Programme.

Digital Catapult (as the Data Controller) will collect and process your personal data, including the following special category data to help Digital Catapult improve its services in respect of equality, diversity and inclusion:

  • Racial and/or ethnic origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Health (including disability)
  • Religious and/or philosophical beliefs

The data collected and processed may be shared with relevant third parties and/or published but only in an aggregated form, which means you will not be personally identifiable.

Your personal data will be kept for 15 months from the time you respond to the Survey. Should you apply to another of Digital Catapult’s opportunities within the 15 month period, we will provide you with the option to allow us to re-use the data we already hold, to resubmit the Survey or to delete your Survey data. If you choose to complete the Survey again, we will keep your updated data for 15 months from the time you resubmit the Survey.

Please note you are responsible for the accuracy of the data you share with Digital Catapult and you agree to inform us if your data needs to be updated.

For more information on Digital Catapult’s collection, use and protection of your personal data and your rights in regards to your personal data, please see Digital Catapult’s privacy policy (https://www.digicatapult.org.uk/privacy-policy) or contact us at [email protected]. If you have specific queries on our use of your Survey data (including a request to delete your Survey data), please contact us at [email protected].


7.1 Qualification

The Catapult will undertake an initial assessment of the Applicants against the Programme Requirements.


7.2 Selection process 

All qualifying applications will be reviewed and scored by the Programme Judges panel to create a shortlist. Shortlisted Applicants may be invited to interviews to enable ranking of Shortlisted Applicants based on the Applications and interviews, with the highest ranked Applicants being accepted onto the Programme.


7.3 Application Scoring criteria and weighting

The scoring criteria will be assessed based on statements in the areas below. Each criterion will be scored on a range from 0 to 5. 0 being an “Unacceptable or No submission” score for each criterion and 5 being an “Excellent” score for each criterion. This scoring will be applied to all applications and will be equally weighted.

There are 4 criteria upon which applicants will be assessed with applications being weighted according to the following percentages:

  1. Problem and 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Business Strategy [25%]

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

  1. Ability to Execute [25%]

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

Furthermore, Participants will be selected on a portfolio basis to ensure the Programme is able to deliver consistent support and activities that provide value to all Participants.


7.4 Due diligence

We will carry out due diligence on applicants prior to the point of selection onto the Programme. Applicants must be willing to submit further information or documentation upon request to qualify as ‘successful’.


7.5 Successful applicants

Successful applicants will be notified and provided with a standard agreement for review and execution (“Programme Agreement”).

The Programme Agreement is a standard agreement and not negotiable.  We do try and ensure these contracts are fair and reasonable.

In order to be accepted onto the Programme, successful applicants must sign the Programme Agreement.


8.1 Benefits

All the benefits provided under the Programme by third-party organisations (“Suppliers”) are subject to the Supplier’s terms and conditions stated in the Programme T&Cs.

Any optional benefits provided by third party organisations whose terms and conditions are not contained in the Programme T&Cs will be agreed between the Participant and the Supplier directly.

Digital Catapult reserves the right to amend the list of benefits at its sole discretion.


8.2 State Assistance

Participants are receiving the grant pursuant to Special Drawing Rights (aka minimal financial assistance), or to the extent applicable under the NI Protocol, the de minimis aid regulations (COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1407/2013), collectively referred to herein as “State Assistance.

The total State Assistance received or due to be received by a Participant (including any associated companies e.g. subsidiaries), originating from a United Kingdom source, must not exceed £315,000 for GB companies, and €200,000 (approximately £165,000) for Northern Ireland Companies (or any company subject to the Northern Ireland Protocol) in aggregate across the Participant’s current fiscal year (as at the Agreement Date) and the previous two fiscal years.

This Programme has been assessed as providing £20,000 for Participants.

Before signing the Programme Agreement, Applicants will therefore be asked to sign a declaration confirming that you are eligible to receive the State Assistance


8.3 Applicants

Digital Catapult reserves the right to accept any application which does not fulfil the minimum requirements.

8.4 Key Dates

Digital Catapult reserves the right to change the Key Dates at its sole discretion. No extension to deadlines will usually be granted, with very limited exceptions where the Applicant requests an extension due to reasonable extenuating circumstances, beyond the Applicant’s control and unforeseen to them, subject to the Applicant providing evidence that proves the extenuating circumstance; and the Applicant informing Digital Catapult as soon as reasonably practicable following the extenuating circumstance becoming apparent. Digital Catapult reserves the right to consider the factors and decide whether such circumstances are extenuating and whether granting an extension is fair to other applicants. No extension granted will usually be for greater than two working days.

8.5 Applications

All information and documents requested must be submitted. Failure to submit all requested information and documents may result in the application being rejected.  Catapult will not use outside information in respect of your application unless otherwise indicated, other than to undertake due diligence.  Digital Catapult reserves the right to not work with people or an organisation which it believes could impact its reputation.

8.6 Previous Applications

Not used.

8.7 Personal Data

Digital Catapult and Sony Music (each, a party) are partnering on this programme, and each is individually (not jointly) a Controller for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 2018.  Each party is individually responsible to you for how that party respectively stores, uses and processes your personal data in accordance with that its own privacy policy. Each party is not responsible to you for the other party’s storage, use or processing of your data.  Actions taken by one party (e.g. deleting personal data) will be independent of the other party. If you need to make a data request, please make such request directly to the relevant party.

In submitting the Application, the Applicant confirms that it has made the Key Contact and any other person whose personal data has been submitted, aware of, and has the lawful grounds to enable each Controller (including its processors) to, process the personal information of the Key Contact (and any other person named in the Application and open call process) as set out in these Competition Terms and in accordance with the respective privacy policies: Digital Catapult (https://www.digicatapult.org.uk/privacy-policy/) and https://tools.sonymusiccreative.com/privacy/


8.8 Programme Agreement

Digital Catapult reserves the right to make amendments to the Programme Agreement it issues up until the point of execution by both parties.

8.9 Participant Programmes

Digital Catapult reserves the right to offer Participants access to its Participant Programmes, such as its Platinum Awards.


9.1 Data Retention

Digital Catapult will store your application and the scoring it has received for the entire duration of the Programme.  If you are a successful Applicant, we shall also store your Application for a period of up to five (5) years following the end of the Programme.  For administration purposes, contracts may be stored for up to seven (7) years, contracts providing State Assistance for up to eleven (11) years, and deeds for up to thirteen (13) years from the end of the Programme.


9.2 Confidentiality

The information provided in your Application will be kept confidential and only used and disclosed as reasonably necessary for the purpose of assessing Applications, and, if admitted onto the Programme, for working with you on the Programme.  This may include with our Programme Partners as indicated above.

For practical reasons, NDAs will not be signed by Digital Catapult or the Programme Partners as part of this Programme Competition. The activities we provide can only be achieved through trust of the tech community. It is therefore not in our interest to release your sensitive information. Confidentiality provisions are included in the Programme Agreement.

The scoring of your Application will be treated as sensitive information.

As your Application will be transmitted over the Internet, ultimately Digital Catapult cannot guarantee its security.


9.3 Intellectual Property

We respect the intellectual property of others and we ask our Applicants to do the same.

In submitting the Application, you promise that you have and continue to have all necessary rights, licenses, permissions and consent to provide the content in your application to us, and for Catapult to use the Application as we have set out.

We will not remove from Applications any proprietary labels or copyright assertions.


9.4 Disclaimers

We accept no liability for any consequences, whether direct or indirect, that may arise from your participation in the Programme Competition, your reliance on any statements we may have made about the Programme, or its suspension or withdrawal.

In any case, to the extent permitted under law, Digital Catapult’s liability shall be limited to one thousand (£1,000) pounds.


9.5 Jurisdiction

The Programme Competition is governed by English law and the Applicant agrees that any dispute shall be exclusively resolved in the English courts.

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