About us

Our mission is to connect creative businesses with the resources, experts, and knowledge they need to grow. The Create Growth Programme facilitates a community for local business leaders while offering free workshops to help you explore the different growth options available to you. 

Running cohorts in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and Peterborough, you can join us for a 12-week programme and benefit from exclusive access to industry leaders, sought-after advice, and tailored guidance – all for free.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one. We’re proud to run this fully funded, no-strings-attached programme with the sole aim of empowering local creative businesses to strive for investment opportunities.

Expression of Interest

Our approach

The Creative East: Create Growth Programme offers a supportive environment for your business to thrive. It’s a tailor-made programme for you, led by your company’s needs with bespoke offerings to maximise your experience.

We’re here to provide a nurturing environment to give businesses the tools and knowledge they need to navigate the world of investment. Always on hand to support and offer guidance to assist a business’s high growth aspirations.

Meet the team

Saffron Myhill

Saffron Myhill is Innovation Funding Manager at University of East Anglia overseeing business support programmes such as Creative Unlimited, Invest East Investment Readiness Programme and Low Carbon Innovation Funds 1 & 2. Since 2012 she has worked with many early and growth stage businesses supporting them to develop and raise equity investment – closing more than 100 investment deals. Saffron started her career in the advertising, design and print industry and worked for more than 10 years in London agencies large and small. After this she moved into sustainability, working for National Energy Foundation, and founding both a not-for-profit training organisation and a solar design and installation business. Her experience of scaling businesses in both the creative industries and clean growth sector have been extremely valuable in understanding the needs of ambitious businesses in the region.

Sam Burton

Sam started her career in factual television production, working on programmes for ITV and Sky before moving into film where she was the Production Executive at Screen East. There she worked on script development, executive produced over 50 short films for the UK Film Council, was executive producer on several feature films and invested in sustainability in Film, Computer Games and TV through a Low Carbon Content Fund. For over 10 years, Sam has been working with businesses in both the creative industries, and other sectors, making investments through the Low Carbon Innovation Fund at the University of East Anglia. During this time, she has also worked as an advisor for the Invest East Investment Readiness Programme, as well as the Creative Unlimited Investment Readiness Programme for the Creative Industries. Sam is on the advisory board of Norfolk Screen, a film office for Norfolk.

Alex has over 25 years of experience in the Creative Industries and in business development . An industry professional known for his diverse breadth of work and respected in both creative and commercial fields, with a proven track record of driving success in both. He founded his first production business aged 23, creating music videos for iconic music artists from Sinead O’connor to Coldplay, as well as working with leading broadcasters on TV shows including CH4’s  ‘100 greatest TV series’. He’s worked as a creative for Advertising Agencies including M&C Saatchi and in business development for some of London’s leading commercial post production companies.

He co-founded Creative Nation, a production agency delivering projects across a wide range of clients from global brands and advertising agencies to world renowned artists. He was also programme director for the BFI Film Academy in Norfolk and Suffolk for the past 6 years. Most recently he has worked as Head of Content for a tech start up with backers that include US basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, Seedcamp and Apple executive Rory Sexton. A specialist in supporting creative development and the marketing of new services in creative fields.

Liam Bailey

Liam initially trained and worked in science teaching, but since his mid-twenties has worked in the creative sector with a range of careers, starting out in Broadcast TV and post-production for the BBC, before moving into photography. Here he built a 20-year career in commercial and project work. After a Masters in Photography which included many business elements due to a collaboration with the London Business School, Liam found he had a desire to work in a creative enterprise, and after cutting his teeth in the Picture Library business went on to co-found the successful online platform for photography, Photocrowd.com. He has had roles as a NED for creative enterprises and worked as a business advisor, most recently for UK Innovate Edge in the East of England. He is a regular panellist and moderator at annual conferences for the DMLA (Digital Media Licensing Association) US and CEPIC (DMLA’s European equivalent). Liam recently completed a Master’s in Creativity and Entrepreneurship at Novia University in Finland.

Alice is an executive creative producer and manager with over twenty-five years of experience across a broad portfolio spanning commercial, broadcast, events, education, skills development, creative, cultural, public, and not for profit sectors. She is Co Founder and Director of Creative Nation, an independent production agency. This cross-sector experience has provided her with a broad perspective which enables Alice to bridge the gap between sectors and disciplines.

Passionate about the creative industries, sector, regional and talent development and place making, Alice is committed to both her industries and to developing the next generation. She also devotes her time to a number of voluntary mentoring roles as well as initiatives and organisations committed to developing the creative industries and its workforce, here in the East of England and farther afield. Alice is Vice Chair of Suffolk Artlink and a founding member of the steering group that developed Suffolk’s film office Screen Suffolk.

Our steering group members

Charlie Gauvain

Charlie Gauvain began his career in 1994 as an intern working in feature films in the USA. Initially working on low budget films before moving onto 20th Century Fox’s Independence Day in New York.
Charlie has produced over 100 hours of documentary and drama for C4, ITV, BBC, Five, UKTV, Crime and Investigation and Animal Planet.

Since 2004 Charlie has been MD of Eye Film, which turns 50 years old in 2023 and is one of the longest established production companies in the UK.

Jeremy Cooke

Jeremy Cooke has been employed at Board level in global games businesses for 30 + years, latterly as CEO/Studio Head/International Sales Director. Jeremy’s games industry knowledge is diverse and his contact list extensive. He has set up effective European distribution for Activision, negotiated and secured countless distribution and publishing deals, secured a plethora of grants and raised millions in equity funding for a number of small – mid-size computer game development, publishing and distribution businesses.

Debbie Gray

Debbie Gray is a Producer and Executive Producer with over 30 years’ experience in Film, Television and Music. Having produced BAFTA nominated and award-winning film Northern Soul, The More You Ignore Me; by Jo Brand, Mrs Lowry and Son starring Timothy Spall and Vanessa Redgrave, Good Luck to You Leo Grande starring Emma Thompson and A Christmas Number One starring Freida Pinto.

Claire Chapman

Claire Chapman worked as Head of Development & Production at Scottish Screen, overseeing the production / script development of 12 Scottish feature films (including Oscar & BAFTA award winning titles). She then moved to Los Angeles heading up the US office of the UK Film Council, representing the interests of the UK film industry. While in the role she successfully restructured operations; implemented a business plan promoting UK’s film infrastructure and production incentives to US studios. Claire is now the Managing Director of Norfolk Screen, an organisation developing, supporting and promoting a thriving TV, Film and Digital Media industry culture within Norfolk.

Chris Filip

Chris Filip’s background is in games and interactive, with his most recent few years focusing on helping out companies and freelancers in film, TV, animation and VFX. Chris has worked with over 100 companies in the high growth screen sectors supporting their growth and development. Throughout his career, Chris has worked for Ubisoft, set up Game Anglia, been a Programme Manager for Creative UK (formerly Creative England) and the BFI.

Martin Rigby

Martin Rigby is founding director of ET Capital Limited which manages venture funds investing in innovative technologies, principally IT, materials, low carbon and life sciences.  Previously, he was an investment manager with 3i plc focused on technology start-ups.  He is also chair of The FSE Group – a regional fund management group with over £100M under management including the East of England Regional Growth Loan Scheme. He was co-founder and CEO of Psonar, the PAYG streaming music service.  For 12 years he was a non-executive director of Bango plc, the AIM quoted mobile payments provider and was also chairman of MJog, a primary care health monitoring and comms platform.  He is an advisory board member of The Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cranfield School of Management.

Richard Johns

Veteran UK film and high-end scripted TV producer Richard Johns has recently launched his new label Argo Films. Argo has just completed The Shepherd starring John Travolta for Disney+, with writer/director Iain Softley, and co-producers Alfonso Cuarón and Bill Kenwright and has announced that it is in paid development on Biafra, working in partnership with David Oyelowo’s Yoruba Saxon and Fremantle, and the BBC. Argo’s mission is to create ambitious, authentic and exceptional features and filmic TV for global audiences.

Richard has also announced the launch of Sympatico, an East-West joint venture with South-East Asian powerhouse producer/distributor DoubleVision.

Richard has been producing award-winning films and TV for 25 years. Among his credits are double Academy Award-nominated Shadow of the Vampire starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe, Like Minds with Eddie Redmayne and Tom Sturridge, The Calcium Kid with Orlando Bloom and Billie Piper, and The Liability starring Tim Roth and Jack O’Connell.


Creative East offers participants the opportunity to work with a variety of experts and specialists across a range of specialisms including but not limited to, specific creative industries expertise, legals, accountancy, business support, marketing, PR, experienced business founders, investment, pitching, presentation skills. If you are interested in joining our experts pool, please contact the team on creativeeast@uea.ac.uk


Fully funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)

Delivered and managed by:

  • Anglia Ruskin University Peterborough
  • Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority
  • Innovate UK
  • New Anglia - Local Enterprise PArtnership for Norfolk and Suffolk
  • Norfolk County Council
  • Suffolk County Council
  • University of East Anglia Innovation Funding
  • University of Suffolk