It would be nearly impossible to list every grant scheme across the UK, let alone worldwide, but knowing where to look is half the battle. Read on for what a business grant is and examples of existing schemes and potential avenues for your business.
What is a Business Grant?
A business grant is an amount of money given to a business to help a business grow. However, unlike a business loans or investment into your business, they do not have to be paid back and business owners are not required to give up equity in exchange for a grant.
Grants are available for different types of small and online business owners, to help growth in particular industries (e.g sustainability, R&D) and other social groups including women, ethnic groups, under-represented groups and young people.
Having said this, it is important to find the correct grant for yourself and your business, one that you qualify for, and then applying for it. These grants can be split into the following types:
This offers start-ups and small business reductions on income tax and investments if they are under two years old and have less than 25 employees.
A direct grant is when the money is given straight to the new business to cover all start-up essentials, such as equipment. However, many grants will expect your business to provide 50% of the value of the grant.
Soft-loans are government-backed and can offer generous repayment terms and conditions, meaning your business either pays lower interest rates or enjoys longer repayment periods.
Examples of Existing Schemes
The British government has a wealth of support and finance available for homegrown businesses, and it’s possible that more initiatives will crop up in light of Brexit.
Innovate UK, for example, constantly puts out calls for new technologies. Its funding opportunities currently include detecting illicit substances in the post, crowdsourcing maps and automating Citizens Advice. Other government bodies to consider include:
- Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
- Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
- Department for Education
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Department for International Trade
If you’re outside England, you might also want to try:
- Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment – Northern Ireland
- Business Scotland
- Welsh Government
- Enterprise Ireland
Local authority grants
Local authorities, agencies and organisations are a great place to look next. Many parts of the country have area-specific funds for the purpose of bolstering the local economy and creating jobs.
Local Enterprise Partnerships are boards made up of local authorities, businesses, educational institutions and the public sector. They work together in order to drive growth and job creation. There are 38 covering every part of England, including the Isle of Wight.
Scottish Enterprise lists a range of grants for Scottish businesses, while Wales has a plethora of grants specific to towns and cities.
To find schemes local to you, try the government’s official finance finder.
University business grants
Many universities offer funding to graduates; others offer services such as product testing. Brunel University, for example,offers Innovation Vouchers worth between £1,000 and £5,000 in product development for any business.
Loughborough University’s startup fund offers up to £5,000 to students and recent graduates, while the bank Santander holds annual Universities Entrepreneurship Awards across its university partners.
Industry-specific funding bodies are a great way to go, as they often offer perfectly-tailored mentorship and a huge network of businesses and customers. Three examples:
The UK Games Fund is a new initiative that funds indie game developers and also helps new devs to build their networks. Grants go up to £25,000.
WeWork’s Creator Awards offer up to $360,000 USD in funding for businesses, performers and charities – and its regions include the UK, Germany, China and Brazil.
The Hospital Club runs an annual Emerging Creatives programme. It includes funding, free club membership and mentorship for people in the arts.
Online business grants
A small but growing number of online-only entities are offering grants to startups. British Small Business Grants offers a monthly cash competition, while the Girlboss Foundation offers funding for female entrepreneurs.
Grants for women and young people
Finally, many organisations are working to make business a more representative place. We’ve already compiled lists of business grants for women and funding for young entrepreneurs to get you started. These grants are available to help nurture the young future of the UK business world, helping to set up to equip young people and women with advice, loans and mentoring.
How to Apply for a Small Business Grant
Each scheme is different, which makes it very important t0 check that you meet the criteria before you apply, or get too far into the application. You should never rush the process, research thoroughly, produce a business plan and apply in good time.
Perfect your Business Plan
- Have a professional business plan as the awards body for the grant will expect to see one, this will back up and claims with evidence making the strongest business case possible.
Talk to the Grant Body
- Assess your chances of making a successful application. Moreover, if you are able to find a contact within the grant provider organisation, you will be able to seek guidance if necessary when you completing your application.
- Grants have a limited amount of money to invest meaning if you apply early there is an increased chance of receiving a fund because there will be less competition. Additionally, this ensures that you will meet the deadline, having a good amount of time to make a good application.
Check your Funding
- Most grants available will look to match the amount you’re willing to invest, so make sure you have a matching amount available to invest in the first place.
Read the Grant Objectives
- Take time to understand to understand the objectives of the grant so that when applying you are able to refer to the objectives in your application in order to stand the best chance. Additionally, this will help to know what information is needed and conduct thorough research if necessary.