Future Leaders 2017

Creative England asked a panel of experts to judge and choose 10 companies that would pave the way in 2017. The judging panel chose their leaders based on how innovative and fast-growing each one was, with a view towards the future and how those chosen, can have an impact on prosperity and creativity across the nation.

The 10 future leaders for 2017 are as follows...

Emily Forbes (Seenit) - What it means to be a future leader?

104 Films

104 films have built a world reputation for their work in developing disabled film makers. Recent films include Notes on Blindness which premiered at Sundance 2016 and was released to acclaim by Curzon in the UK. The film has won many awards including the BIFA  for Best Documentary. The company also produced Unrest – a feature film by Jen Brea telling of her battle to understand  M.E. which premiered in competition at Sundance 2017.

William Oldroyd

Already established as a theatre director in London, William made his first short BEST which won the Sundance London Short Film Competition in 2013 and was then invited to be screened at the Sundance Festival, 2014. William’s first feature film, Lady Macbeth, premiered at Toronto 2016 and was subsequently chosen as a top ten pick of the festival in both Variety and Rolling Stone. BAFTA, Variety, The Observer and Evening Standard have identified William as a director to watch.

Josh Krichefski on William Oldroyd

Camille Gatin

Camille produced the award winning feature film The Girl With All The Gifts directed by Colm McCarthy and written by Mike Carey, starred Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine and introducing Sennia Nanua. Warner Bros released the film in the UK following opening night screenings at the Locarno film festival and Midnight Madness in Toronto. Camille's first feature, Shadow Dancer, directed by Oscar winning director James Marsh, starred Andrea Riseborough, Clive Owen and Gillian Anderson. She also produced the second season of ‘Endeavour’ for ITV, the reboot of Inspector Morse, and Jonathan van Tulleken and Tim Key's black comedy short Anthony.

Hammerhead VR

Hammerhead is a leading virtual reality and immersive content studio. Founded in 2014, the multi-award-winning team is recognised as one of the UK's pioneering pure-play VR studios, with a reputation for creating premium quality games, films and experiences. ABE VR, their first consumer title, was the first VR experience to be certified by the British Board of Film Classification, while the studio have produced acclaimed projects for companies including Jaguar, HSBC, Royal Navy, VW, IBM, and Lexus.

Lucid Games

Established in February 2011 by senior developers from Bizarre Creations, Lucid  Games has set itself out to be a small team with big ideas and the skills to deliver them. Its performance over the past few years has proved it is just that. It has delivered great games, has a dedicated and talented staff and a great atmosphere, based in a very cool studio in the heart of Liverpool’s Creative Quarter.

Josh Krichefski on Lucid Games


Antstream, the Spotify for Games, is one of our most exciting investments of 2016.  We loved the idea of on-demand casual gaming, tapping into 40 years of games back catalogue and being able to play any game every made, instantly. 

2017 is going to be a hugely exciting year for Antstream and we’re thrilled to be part of the fun!


Evidential’s goal is to bring courtrooms into the digital age.  They have developed ‘Exhibeo’, an evidence presentation platform that uses the latest hardware technology combined with innovative software designed specifically for digital evidence. 

Evidential were winners of our Starter for 50 pitching event at CE Live in January 2016 and in fact, Creative England were so impressed with the company that we offered them an uplift to fast track their growth plans and they received a £100K loan from us.  They were also recently listed as one of the top 100 disruptive digital tech companies in the world by disrupt100.

Andrew Kirkaldy on Evidential

Strange Thoughts

We’re always amazed and intrigued to hear what the team at Strange Thoughts are up to, and what crazy and exciting projects they are developing.  It was the combination of projects like smoke filled bubbles, a mind controlled beer pouring robot, and a geo-locational listening platform that first peaked our interest back in 2015.

Since then, the team have gone on to develop Landmrk which places digital content in real time, anywhere in the world and we’re so excited about where this exciting platform will take them. 

Emily Forbes on Strange Thoughts


We’ve known them from their early stages on a business accelerator, via a business pivot with only a 2 month runway to where they are now; a genuinely fast growing and expanding company – they have recently created 6 new jobs within the team in the last 12 months and are going from strength to strength.

Behind the business are husband and wife team, Max and Hue Painter who have a very clear and strong belief in what they do, but also how they want to run their company – hiring people they know to be a good fit, developing skills and staff along the way and fostering a great culture.

Paw Print Games

Paw Print Games is an independent studio located in Chester, in the North West of England. The studio develops unique games for a variety of platforms including PC, Console, mobile and VR. Their first original IP, KAMI RETRO, a puzzle based platformer released in March 2011, received the App Store Game of the Week award and featured in many sections of the App Store including Greatest Platformers, Benchmark Games and the Hall of Fame. Alongside creating new IP, Paw Print Games works on established IP with partners including Nickelodeon, Adult Swim and Saban Brands.

Now you've met the Future Leaders, click here to meet our CE50!