When it comes to funding your business, grants can be very appealing as they don’t need to be paid back. This doesn’t, however, mean that they’re a no strings attached financial gift. Conditions of a grant can include the provision of regular progress reports, visibility of company takings and breakdowns of what the grant has been spent on.
The UK government offers a number of small business grants at both a national and local level. A good first port of call when considering a government grant is the Gov.uk business finance support finder. Here you’ll find a breakdown of a wide range of funding opportunities, including grants.
1. Innovation grant
One grant that’s available nationally is the Innovate UKSMART grant. This grant helps companies at the early R&D phase of a project, so may be applicable if your business is working on a tech service or product. On 25 November 2015, the government announced that this programme would change into a lending scheme, so do look out for updates on this change.
2. Scotland-based funding
If your company is based in Scotland, the Scottish Enterprise research and development grant can give your company up to £40,000 to develop a new product or service. Grants can not only be specific to a certain fields, like R&D, but can also have a particular agenda in terms of what the funding body wants to achieve with the grant. In the case of Scottish Enterprise, when it comes to applications for the grant, they’re looking for businesses that can prove their project will create local jobs and link to other local companies, while demonstrating commercial viability and market opportunity.
3. Local-level grants
There are grants available at a very local level. This may be a grant offered by a town council who want to encourage businesses to establish offices or factories in their area. Or regional grants established to encourage the development of specific industries, such as eco-friendly businesses. Grants are even available to help small business improve their infrastructure, such as providing funding to bring broadband to businesses in more rural areas.
In terms of getting a grant, the majority of grant providers will require a detailed business plan. This shouldn’t only include what you would spend the grant on, but also why your business is applying for that specific grant and how it meets the requirements. If you’ve never created a business plan before, sometimes the grant provider can offer some sort of mentorship to help you put your proposal together. Or you can find help online, such as on the Business is Great Britain site which offers advice on creating a business plan.
Our feature on small business grants offers a lot of useful grants and advice too – take a look.