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Content Innovation Fund 2023: Sustainability in Comedy

Enabling Wales-based production companies to research and develop (R&D) innovation-driven content with a focus on sustainability to delight audiences across Wales and beyond.

Media Cymru in collaboration with BBC Cymru Wales

The opportunity

What is the BBC Content Innovation Fund?

This new fund offers dedicated time and resource for indies explore the integration of sustainability themes in scripted comedy.

Our focus is on ideas that explore themes of sustainability explicitly through plot, character, setting, actions and behaviours. We would like applicants to take an innovative approach to the way these themes are woven through their work.

BBC Cymru Wales

This call for proposals is inspired by the BBC’s commitment to sustainable content, demonstrated in the pan-broadcaster Climate Content Pledge.

In signing the pledge, the BBC promises to reach more of their audiences with content that informs and inspires on the topic, consider climate themes when commissioning, developing and producing all content, be informed by the science and recognise the importance of fair and balanced visions of a sustainable future (not just dystopian ones).

Applicants should therefore explore opportunities to reflect climate themes authentically in their proposals.

BBC Sustainability Guidance

Media Cymru

The Media Cymru Consortium is one of the largest investments in creative industries innovation made in the UK. Through research, development and innovation (RD&I) the Media Cymru Consortium aims to enable and stimulate the growth of the Welsh media sector and creative industries.

Media Cymru's goal is to use innovation as a key driver of green and fair economic growth to develop a global hub in the Cardiff Capital Region.

Our work is underpinned by four pillars:

  • Growth – to drive economic growth through R&D and innovation
  • Global – to increase international awareness of the media sector in Wales and encourage international collaborations
  • Fair – to create a fair, equal and diverse media sector
  • Green – to significantly reduce the negative environmental impact of the media sector

How it works 

Up to three indies will be selected to develop initial ideas, with innovation at its core, and with broad appeal for BBC Wales and iPlayer.

The BBC Cymru Wales x Media Cymru Content Fund has two phases:

Phase one – R&D – led by Media Cymru in 2023/24 and phase two – further development – led by BBC Cymru Wales from summer 2024.

Phase One – Media Cymru

  • Launch of fund with a briefing for sector.
  • Up to three Wales-based applicants will be chosen to develop ideas for scripted comedy series, receiving up to £20,000
  • Successful applicants will carry out three to six months of R&D to develop a new idea from treatment through to series outline and a spec for Ep1 of their proposed series.

Phase 2 – BBC Cymru Wales

July 2024: Proposal review and pitch to BBC Cymru Wales.


By the end of the project, we would like you to have developed a proposal for a scripted comedy that focuses on ideas that explore themes of sustainability explicitly through plot, character, setting, actions and behaviours.

If you require advice regarding your eligibility, need further information or have specific access requirements, online sessions to discuss the fund are available throughout the application period. If you are interested in arranging a 121, please contact:


With all our activity we are keen to reach the widest audience possible to ensure we hear the best ideas. We recognise that too often, R&D investment circulates around networks which are not representative of our wider community in its social and cultural diversity. We aim to change that pattern and are working to address these structural imbalances in our organisation and in the wider sector. We also hope to inspire transformative and inclusive lines of R&D that will challenge existing ways of producing and thinking.

We welcome applications from all different sizes and types of organisations including micro-businesses, sole-traders, freelancers and partnerships.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Your company or practice is based in Wales
  • You have a R&D idea
  • You are in the media industry, or your idea directly benefits the media industry
  • You are able to dedicate time and effort to complete a R&D project between October 2023 and October 2024
  • You self-declare your eligibility to receive an MFA subsidy in line with the guidance below.

We will only accept one application per enterprise as a project lead. However, your organisation may be listed as a supporting team member on up to three applications.

Subsidy control

A subsidy is where a public authority provides support to an enterprise which gives that enterprise an economic advantage, meaning that equivalent support could not have been obtained on commercial terms. Subsidies that are awarded in compliance with the Subsidy Control Act 2022 provide a legitimate way for public funding to support economic activity.

Media Cymru Development Fund support is offered as a Minimal Financial Assistance (MFA) Subsidy, in the form of a cash grant from Cardiff University and additional support from the Alacrity Foundation and Cardiff Metropolitan University.

If your organisation is not able to meet the eligibility criteria to accept this award as an MFA Subsidy, as further outlined below, please contact us to discuss other options by emailing or calling 02922 511 434.

Minimal Financial Assistance

Under MFA rules, public authorities can award up to £315,000 of MFA subsidy to an enterprise over an ‘applicable period’ of three financial years. This ‘applicable period’ is:

  • the elapsed part of the current financial year ending 30 March (i.e. from April) and
  • the two financial years immediately preceding the current financial year.

In the application you will be asked to declare your eligibility to receive funding via the MFA route.

To establish your eligibility, we require you to confirm that the addition of our grant funding plus additional support (valued at no more than £2,500 as outlined in the Project support section below) does not exceed your £315,000 limit for MFA across the ‘applicable period’ of three financial years.

When assessing the previous assistance that you may have received over the applicable period, please include the following:

  • De Minimus Aid
  • Small Amounts of Financial Assistance (SAFA) given as Special Drawing Rights (SDR)
  • Services of Public Economic Interest (SPEI) Financial Assistance
  • Minimal Financial Assistance

Prior award or notification letters from public authorities should clearly state the basis and date of award. If in doubt, you should contact the public authority granting the assistance to confirm its nature. You do not need to include assistance granted on a different basis – for example a grant made under the EU State Aid General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER).

When assessing MFA, you must include all organisations in your group structure that operate under ‘common control’. Further details on this can be found in Annex 1 of the Statutory Guidance for the UK Subsidy Control Act 2022, para 15.40-15.46, pp. 174-176.

If you are unsure about your obligations under the Subsidy Control Act 2022, you can find further information in the Statutory Guidance, Chapter 7. You may also wish to review the wider guidance materials available from the Welsh Government Subsidy Control Unit, or take independent legal advice. Cardiff University is unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

Project support

If successful, grant recipients will benefit from four mandatory sessions (totaling eight hours), plus an optional session (three hours) with world-leading design consultancy and applied research facility PDR. These sessions will aim to support you on your innovation journey and will be based around established methodology for developing an approach to R&D projects:

  • Session one: Challenge and plan
  • Session two: Making sense of research data
  • Session three: Ideation and prototyping
  • Session four: Findings and next steps

There will also be four mandatory support sessions (totaling eight hours) provided by The Alacrity Foundation providing business development and commercialisation expertise to projects.

Where appropriate, the Media Cymru team will seek to supplement this support by drawing on experience from the Media Cymru Innovation Spaces project, academic partners and by exploring the potential for mentoring support from industry leaders.

Projects will also be supported by a Producer/Assistant Producer from Media Cymru.

This support is valued at no more than £2,500 and is provided to grant recipients as MFA.  If you require further information on the support value please email or call 02922 511 434.

This total will be added to the grant you are requesting to determine the total MFA Subsidy offered to you. The total value is calculated as the combined gross cash equivalent of the support provided by Media Cymru partners including Cardiff Metropolitan University (PDR) and The Alacrity Foundation.

Role of lead applicants

While we encourage collaborations, each project application must be led by one enterprise. Depending on organisational type, the applicant must be legally entitled to work in the UK or be a UK-registered business or charity.

Responsibilities of the lead applicant:

  • To be the ‘contractual lead’ or signatory to the Media Cymru Grant Agreement
  • To lead, manage and deliver the project in accordance with the agreed proposal and budget
  • To claim and receive grant funding, keeping appropriate financial records of all expenditure
  • To be the point of contact for reporting and monitoring on the project to Media Cymru, liaising regularly with a dedicated Media Cymru team member.

Where a project requires the input of other organisations, please identify these organisations (if known) in the application form and outline the nature of your relationship with them and their expected contribution (for example, whether as sub-contractors, key suppliers or contributing team members). The lead applicant is responsible for:

  • Putting in place any necessary sub-contracting or collaboration agreements withthird parties, and overseeing/managing their contribution
  • Dispersing funding to any third parties in accordance with the agreed project budget and Subsidy Control rules.

The lead applicant will be required to provide assurance that they have a business bank account, can manage the cash flow requirements of their projects, and have appropriate financial processes in place to deliver projects in accordance with our funding terms and conditions.

We will perform ‘due diligence’ checks on lead organisations as part of our project feasibility assessments, with outcomes considered against the scale of funds requested and the duration of project activities. The applicant and third parties must be willing to submit supporting documents on request.

A member of our team will be happy to talk to you about your project ideas, fit to scheme requirements and budget queries. Please contact


Under the terms of the Media Cymru contracts for this call, the BBC will have a ‘first look’ on the development works.

Assessment criteria

Your application proposals will be assessed in these areas:

1. Your Programme Idea

Your programme idea must:

  • be within the scripted Comedy genre
  • explicitly feature themes of environmental sustainability
  • have the portrayal and representation of Wales at its heart
  • function on a non-linear platform, e.g. BBC iPlayer, and not focus on a television channel or timeslot.

BBC Wales is interested in attracting new audiences, from all sections of society, with innovative and impactful content so we will consider how your idea might serve new audiences:

Your response could refer to:

  • broad demographic qualities such as age and gender, or other protected characteristics.
  • other attributes such as location, political affiliation, religious beliefs, special interests etc.
  • traditionally underserved audiences
  • new approaches to attract audiences to BBC iPlayer

2. How R&D Supports your Programme Idea

This is an opportunity to let us know what is innovative about your project. Please let us know what work you will undertake that would go beyond traditional programme development.

We define R&D as a systematic process of conducting research as you develop your new product, service or experience. The research will shape the development. Research can take many forms. It may involve gathering evidence of what else exists, learning from others and assessing whether your idea really is innovative. It may involve testing your ideas, as you develop them, with potential users.

R&D often begins with an identifiable problem or need, rather than assuming a solution. The R&D process then allows you to identify how best to address that problem or need. You may have good ideas about how best to do this but expect these to change or evolve as part of the R&D process.

We will support your R&D process through a series of workshops based on user-centred design with our partners at Cardiff Metropolitan University – PDR, a world leading design consultancy.

3. Achievability of your proposed timeline

We want you to do an outline plan for your R&D that draws on appropriate expertise and takes into account other commitments on your time that gives us confidence that you are able to deliver within the proposed duration of the project.

Please also consider the mandatory 16 hours of support from PDR and The Alacrity Foundation in your plan.

4. Budget and grant payments

At the application stage we will only be asking for indicative costs and the maximum cash grant you are seeking. All costs must be necessary for the delivery of your project.

If your application is successful, we will ask you to provide a more detailed budget and brief justifications outlining the nature of these costs. We will also agree a schedule of payments with you which may include an advance grant payment.

To claim the final payment of your Grant, we will ask you to demonstrate that you have actually incurred all these costs during the grant period by providing us with a signed declaration supported by a list of all your expenditure.

Please consider the work you would like to undertake and who will be conducting this work.  You should also note the requirement for attendance of up to three members of your team at the mandatory 16 hours of support from PDR and The Alacrity Foundation and ensure the time for this is included in your project plan.

5. Foreseen impact

a. Economic impact
The longer-term economic benefit of your R&D activity may be:

  • It enables the growth of your company or practice (or the creation of a new company)by supporting the development of a new concept, product, service or experience
  • It gives you a competitive advantage by increasing your efficiency
  • It offers the potential for future additional revenue streams
  • It creates broader economic benefits in the Welsh media sector.

Your response could refer to:

  • The target markets for the product, service or experience you wish to create and any other potential markets (domestic, international or both)
  • The size of the target markets for the product, service or experience you wish to create
  • The long-term financial sustainability of the product, service or experience you will create through your R&D
  • Reduced costs / increased production efficiency
  • Increased revenue from sales
  • Increased revenue from licensing
  • Increased revenue from exports
  • New business model
  • Improved quality of products, services and/or experiences
  • Increased employment of other staff
  • Development of new intellectual property (IP)
  • Exploitation of existing IP.

The more tangible and ambitious these benefits are, the stronger a project will score against these criteria.

b. Social and cultural impact

You need to consider the social and cultural impact of your R&D activity. Impacts here may include:

  • Representation of Welsh culture, language, stories, landscapes
  • Reaching underserved or diverse audiences or markets
  • Increasing equality of access to the media sector
  • Increasing people’s levels of wellbeing or quality of life
  • Increasing international awareness of the Welsh media sector and fostering international collaboration.

c. Environmental impact

You need to consider the environmental impact of your R&D activity. Impacts may include: 

  • Contribution to net zero targets
  • Having a positive environmental impact for you/your company/wider industry
  • Increasing audience awareness of the climate emergency.

Your response could refer to:

  • Reduced environmental impact on your company and the sector as a result of this work
  • Lowering emissions
  • Reduced transport use
  • Reducing or repurposing materials
  • More energy efficient processes.

Discover previous projects

Content Innovation Fund 2023: Sustainability in Comedy

News: Work begins on BBC Cymru Wales and Media Cymru Content Innovation Fund projects