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UK Global Screen Fund awards £3.3m to support global marketing efforts

The BFI has made a further 30 awards through its UK Global Screen Fund, backing seven new international co-productions and supporting 23 UK screen content businesses to boost their international marketing activities and enhance the success of their content globally.

Financed through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the latest batch of awards sees over £1.3 million being allocated through the fund’s International Co-production strand and over £2 million being allocated through the fund’s International Business Development strand.

This latest round of International Co-production awards sees the UK co-producing with 12 territories and will be the first time the fund has supported collaborations with Hungary, Norway and Spain. The funding will also support partnerships with Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland and Sweden.

The awards, in the form of non-recoupable grants, support UK independent companies as minority co-producers for feature films of all genres, and as majority and minority co-producers for TV projects in animation and documentary genres. This latest funding round supports seven feature films, including one documentary.

Financial support for International Business Development will provide the 23 companies from all over the UKwith funding via one of two tracks:

  • Film Transformation, for internationally-focused transformational business strategies related to independent UK films, with strategies spanning three to five years
  • General, for business strategies to create, acquire and/or exploit intellectual property (IP) across film, TV, animation, documentary and interactive narrative video games, with strategies spanning three years

The funding, awarded in the form of non-recoupable grants and ranging between £50,000 and £150,000 in total over a three year period, is focused on helping companies achieve new international business partnerships, enhance their profile and reach in the global marketplace, and increase revenue generation through export and international expansion.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “The UK’s film, TV and video game firms are global trailblazers and we are determined to maximise their potential to drive economic growth and showcase their creative excellence across the world. Thanks to our investment through the UK Global Screen Fund, independent films – like the BAFTA-nominated Scrapper – are getting the support they need to develop international partnerships, attract investment and reach new audiences on a global stage.”

Denitsa Yordanova, BFI Head of the UK Global Screen Fund and International Funds, said: “This latest round of awards demonstrates the inspiring global ambitions of our unique independent screen sector, supporting companies across the UK to forge new international collaborations and implement exciting growth strategies. It is fantastic to also see such a strong slate of co-production projects, working with a diverse range of international territories, many for the first time. The UK Global Screen Fund is proud to back such a wide variety of ambitious plans for creating new content with international resonance and for developing business strategies to reach international audiences and I look forward to following these ambitious projects and companies as they reach their full potential in the global marketplace.”

Photo by Gordon Cowie on Unsplash

AI startups raised over $5bn venture capital funding in 2022

The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) has captured the attention of venture capital (VC) investors globally. Against this backdrop, 3,198 AI startups received $52.1 billion funding across 3,396 VC funding deals during 2022.

However, an analysis of GlobalData’s Financial Deals Database reveals that 2022 experienced a subdued VC funding activity across sectors and AI space also felt the brunt of a dent in investor sentiments. Although VC funding deal volume as well as value in the AI space declined in 2022 compared to the previous year, the impact was more prominent in terms of value.

Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData, explained: “The number of VC funding deals announced in AI space globally declined by 4% in 2022 compared to the previous year, whereas the corresponding deals value was down by a massive 41.8%.”

AI deal volume experienced a fluctuating quarter-on quarter (Q-o-Q) trend throughout 2021 and 2022. Meanwhile, deal value declined for the six straight quarters through Q3 2022. However, there was a rebound in both VC funding deals volume and value in Q4 2022.

Some of the notable VC deals announced in the AI space during 2022 include $1.5 billion fundraising by Anduril Industries, $580 million raised by Anthropic, and $500 million fundraising by Black Sesame Intelligent Technology.

Bose concluded: “The subdued VC funding activity in the AI space seems to be for short-term while long-term prospects are likely to be promising and the rebound in both deals volume and value in Q4 2022 could be seen as an indication of it.”

Storfund set to offer $1bn to eCommerce SMEs

Storfund has raised $36.5 million of capital through the Private Debt team of Swiss bank Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) and private investors to expand its global operations and ‘help marketplace merchants access working capital and unlock liquidity’.

In its initial 18 months of operations, Storfund has become one of Europe’s leading eCommerce funders – This year, Storfund aims to provide $1 billion of cash advances to eCommerce merchants selling on Amazon and other European, American, and Asian marketplaces.

The only European Amazon approved funding provider, Storfund has a presence in 17 out of Amazon’s 20 marketplaces. It is also integrated into other leading European eCommerce sites and is due to be rolled out onto several other marketplaces during 2021. 

Storfund says its API driven propriety technology brings innovation and efficiency to the receivables finance industry which has been unable to serve e-commerce merchants due to its traditional approach. Technology streamlines processes and lowers costs, which is ultimately passed on the e-commerce merchants. Storfund’s bespoke underwriting standards based on marketplace microstructure indicators rather than traditional credit metrics allow Storfund to onboard e-commerce merchants within 24 hours and manage risk on a dynamic basis. 

By combining access to working capital and international cross-border payments in over 50 currencies, London-based Storfund provides eCommerce sellers around the world with an end-to-end solution for stabilising cash flow, accelerating growth and increasing profitability from their local and international sales.

eCommerce is now an indispensable part of the global retail framework. Like many other industries the pandemic has reshaped the retail landscape and accelerated its exponential transformation. 2020 saw global eCommerce surpass $3.5 trillion in sales, accounting for 22% of the entire global retail market.

Storfund was conceived by former investment bankers George Brintalos and Akbar Ahsan. Brintalos said: “Storfund bridges the gap between eCommerce and capital, which is under served by traditional banks which are either too rigid to adapt or are withdrawing from the SME sector. We are here to address the capital needs of this new category of entrepreneurs, providing them with the liquidity they need to naturally grow their business, without adding unnecessary debt on their balance sheet or diluting their share capital base.”

Ahsan added: “Storfund uniquely understands the cashflow challenges of eCommerce merchants and offers a frictionless liquidity solution for the digital age. We are pleased that investors saw the value of Storfund’s tech-first approach which combined with our real time risk management puts us at the forefront of our industry. This investment round will accelerate our scale up and help us in our mission to alleviate the pain of long payment terms and provide growth capital to eCommerce merchants.”

UK-based Ometria raises $21m

Ometria, a London-based customer marketing platform for retailers, has closed a Series B funding round worth $21m.

The round was led by Octopus Ventures, with existing investors Sonae IM, Summit Action, Samos and Adjuvo, as well as ten early angel investors, making further investments.

Marieke Christmann from Octopus Ventures and Eduardo Piedade from Sonae IM will both join Ometria’s board.

Ometria says the funding will be used to accelerate its product development, expanding the platform’s retail marketing capabilities and AI-based technology for its 200 retailer clients.

The company says it was founded on the realisation that consumers will no longer tolerate the torrent of communication that has no relevance to what they are interested in. It says marketers need to take responsibility for the impact of every communication they send, and be empowered to ensure that every marketing experience they create for any customer is a positive one.

Ometria’s CEO and Founder Ivan Mazour said: “We’re all overloaded with information and communication, it’s relentless and must be addressed. Retail marketing has contributed heavily to this, with most marketing experiences being ones we simply don’t enjoy.

“I’m proud that Ometria solves this ever increasing problem for hundreds of retailers, and hundreds of millions of customers. I’m incredibly excited that Octopus Ventures has partnered with us to help even more retailers make sure that their customers have marketing experiences they truly love.”

Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay

KidsKnowBest ramps influencer strategy with £500,000 funding

Children’s media specialist KidsKnowBest has assembled a heavyweight line-up of investors and advisors as it gears up for its next stage of expansion – and has raised just shy of half a million pounds to support the next phase of growth.

Key investors include:

Amy McPherson – Formerly European President, Marriott International
Hani Farsi – Chairman & Executive Producer, The Corniche Group
Sarah Wiggins – Partner, LinkLaters

Founded three years ago by Joel Silverman and Rob Lough, KidsKnowBest has a mission statement of ‘Giving Kids A Voice’.

The business was created on the principle that brands need to target children and young people in the digital age by communicating to them via their peers.

Having already worked with triple-A brands including Disney, MGA, Universal, Smyths Toys, Harper Collins, the BBC and more, KidsKnowBest provides an incredible eco-system, which includes:

Research & Development
Talent Management
Content Creation

KidsKnowBest is now gearing up for a period of ambitious expansion – with a heavyweight streaming video research project soon to be announced. Its heavyweight investors, along with the members of its newly-established Advisory Board are key to this new drive. Those Board members include:

Darran Garnham – CEO of MTW Toys and formerly Chief Commercial Officer, Mind Candy
Harry Botterill – Director of Global Technology Acquisition, Hasbro
Eric Huang – Vice President Ameet Publishing, formerly Disney & Penguin Books

“This is a very exciting time for KidsKnowBest,” said Co-Founder Joel Silverman. “We’re incredibly proud to have assembled such high-profile and experienced individuals to help open a new chapter for KidsKnowBest, and we’re looking forward to being able to share some exciting news about our next developments.”

Co-Founder Rob Lough added: “This is a very exciting time for KidsKnowBest. We consider ourselves to still be a start-up, but with the support and experience of our Advisory Board, we are set to take our ambitious plans to the next level.”