Digital Catapult and Sony Music UK have unveiled a cohort of 10 digital-first start-ups to participate in the inaugural FutureScope Black Founders Programme.
The programme will support Black British entrepreneurs in the digital entertainment space, and encourage the commercialisation of their new solutions.
The announcement marks the beginning of the 16-week programme of activities that will provide each early-stage company with business and investment readiness support, drawing on Digital Catapult’s experience of supporting UK start-ups.
Through mentorship, workshops and masterclasses, the programme will look to help each start-up raise investment in the next six to nine months. Half of the cohort businesses are led by women and half led by men.
The 10 start-ups joining the FutureScope Black Founders Programme:
• Cashblack - a platform that rewards members with cashback when they shop online with Black-owned businesses.
• Deya - a platform for Black creative talent and creative companies, building a new approach for Black creatives to find jobs and community.
• Flossy - tools for users to create remixable merch and products.
• Happaning Ltd - a crowd-sourced event preview app.
• Korda - provides tools that support all stages of the music life cycle, from creation to monetisation.
• Loud Parade - a music creative and sonic branding company that makes bespoke music compositions for brands and creative agencies.
• Musircle - an AI-driven social media platform that analyses the listening habits of users to deliver their musical DNA.
• Nyangibo Gallery - an online and in-person digital fine art gallery, with a focus on extended reality (XR) art.
• Stories & The City - a cultural tourism immersive start-up that uses augmented reality (AR) and a user's smartphone to create bespoke cultural city tours.
• Waves - an AI-powered web3 marketplace for collecting and trading rare beats.
Digital Catapult will deliver the FutureScope Black Founders Programme in partnership with Sony Music UK. By focusing support toward Black tech entrepreneurs, the programme aims to provide them with knowledge and connections that can lead to future investment opportunities.
FutureScope is Digital Catapult’s deep tech acceleration support system for tech innovators and businesses. The Black Founders Programme aims to make it easier for Black founders to raise venture capital and successfully scale their solutions.
To offset costs to a business by participating in the programme, each start-up will receive £3,000 as a financial contribution towards completing the programme. This also includes additional support from Musiio by SoundCloud.
The programme is further bolstered by support from consultants and mentors from across the entertainment and tech industries. This includes Sony Music UK and Soundcloud, and nine purpose-driven organisations that promote Black businesses and inclusive opportunities across the UK’s tech start-up community.
Jessica Rushworth, chief strategy and policy officer, Digital Catapult, said: “This cohort is really one of the most exciting we have seen since the launch of FutureScope nearly two years ago. The range of solutions on show, built using advanced digital technologies, just highlights why companies like this are a key part of the future of the UK's creative sector.
“The reality is that choosing 10 companies from a strong field of applicants was an incredibly tough process for the judging panel, but ultimately a very encouraging one, that really demonstrated to us the breadth of talent that exists within the UK’s Black tech community.”
Dorothy Hui, SVP, digital and audience development, Sony Music UK’s 4th Floor Creative, said: “We are thrilled to welcome an inspiring cohort of founders – all building businesses around creative uses of technology – to the FutureScope Black Founders programme. Sony Music is committed to helping improve diversity in digital entertainment and we look forward to supporting the entrepreneurs participating in the programme by providing access to industry expertise and our network. We can’t wait to see how the businesses develop through the programme.“
The programme culminates with a final showcase event in early November 2023, where the founders will have the opportunity to pitch to a select group of investors.