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Indielab kicks off 2020 scheme

Indielab, the organisation behind the accelerator programme for UK-based independent producers, has begun accepting applications for its 2020 scheme.

Victoria Powell

The business growth programme, launched in 2015 by producer Victoria Powell with backing from the Mayor of London through Film London, will again offer 15 up-and-coming production companies a tailored consulting process designed by the sector for the sector.

It will provide the firms with growth masterclasses and global market insight while aiming to make them investment-ready.

The programme, which includes masterclasses from 50-plus industry experts and consultants, provides global market insight, investment-readiness analysis and an investor-pitching event.

Last year’s speakers included Richard Parsons, chief operating officer for international production at Sony Pictures Television; Gregor Sharp, commissioning editor at BBC Comedy; Chloe Tucker, commissioning executive, drama at ITV; and Bill Hobbins, commissioning editor, entertainment and arts at Sky.

In 2020, there will be a focus on international production financing, the potential and challenges involved in doing business in the US, forging relationships with SVoD platforms and developing podcasts.

In recognition of Indielab Accelerator’s strategy of distributing support evenly and fairly across the UK’s indie community, the BBC is committing to a longer-term partnership with the programme, having become a full sponsor in 2019.

Creative Scotland has also come on board as a new partner alongside long-time supporter Channel 4. The latter will invest in the 2020 programme via its Indie Growth Fund and Nations and Regions content spend.

As in previous years, Indielab Accelerator’s 2020 cohort will be balanced across scripted and non-scripted producers and male- and female-owned businesses. Half of the cohort will be based in the UK’s nations and regions, in line with the programme’s mission to help nurture diversity and sustainable production hubs outside of London.

Powell, CEO of Indielab, said: “Over five years and 60 alumni, we have gained a rich and unrivalled insight into the UK’s indie sector, which remains the lifeblood of our world-class creative industry.

“The biggest takeaway is that our programme is more relevant than ever in today’s market, which is facing unprecedented change. UK indies can no longer survive purely on domestic commissions, they must look to the global market. This requires constant focus on building new skills and new relationships. In addition, M&A activity is predicted to rise after a quieter 12 months. Our aim is to use our network and knowledge to provide UK indies with the tools and intelligence they need to navigate these challenges.”

Mike Benson, founder and creative director of Chalkboard TV and a 2019 cohort member, urged other indies to take part.

“It’s a rare thing on the commission-chasing hamster wheel of TV production to stop, take a breath, take some advice and look at what you’re doing, why and where you want to get to,” said Benson.

“Indielab gave us that opportunity in spades, as well as a brilliant network of similar but diverse companies all looking to share and support rather than out-do and out-brag. The sessions were informative, engaging and, most of all, useful to us as a creative and commercial business. We also got a WhatsApp group out of it.”

Indielab is now actively seeking applications from companies across all genres, including both scripted and non-scripted. Entries for the 2020 programme will be open until February 7, 2020.

To be eligible, indies must be founded and registered in the UK, with less than £6m (US$7.7m) in revenue in non-scripted. In order to support the burgeoning scripted sector as well as non-scripted, the cap on turnover has now been lifted to £8m if the company can demonstrate some scripted production.

Participants must have had at least two or three broadcast credits within the past three years. Production companies can apply via the Indielab website.

The successful applicants will be notified in March and invited to nominate two employees to take part in the programme, which will run from March to May.

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