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What grant funding options are there for my business?

What grant funding options are there for my business?

Whether you're a start-up looking for seed money, an SME looking for cash to support your growth or need funding to support a capital investment, navigating the business finance landscape can be a challenge.

Although state-funded business support has been cut to the bone since the recession of 2009, the Government still recognises the importance of investing in businesses as a way to support job creation and economic growth, so there are still many options out there for organisations of all sizes seeking finance to help them grow. 

There are currently many grant funding options available to help your business start up, develop and grow, ranging from small, local funding schemes to national Government grants.

It can seem a daunting task to look at all your options and find the grant that's right for your business, after all, event the experts can find it difficult to keep track of the hundreds of different grant schemes available.

But there are two key questions you need to consider before you start to apply - is the grant scheme relevant and is your business likely to qualify? And if so, is it worth applying for? 

The pitfalls of grant funding

Usually, there are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to applying for a grant.

You must be willing to put up some of your own money. It is extremely rare for any grant scheme to finance 100% of the costs of a project. Most will only fund between 15% to 60% of the total finance required for a project, which means you'll have to make up the shortfall with either match funding or your own cash.

And even if a larger proportion of the total project cost is available, its worth remembering that you will still need to invest the time and resources in researching and applying for the grant, which will come as an additional cost to your business. 

Grants are also usually only available for specified projects, such as capital investments, R&D, or initiatives which create jobs, so you need to be clear on what you are seeking funding for and whether or not it is eligible. The last thing you want is to invest valuable time and money into applying for a grant, only to find out it doesn't meet the grant scheme's criteria. 

Having a clear project plan is essential. This may be different to your business plan, so you will need to demonstrate how the project you are seeking funding for ties in with your overall business objectives, particularly when it comes to job creation and growth.

It's also worth bearing in mind that most grant schemes impose restrictions. By researching these up-front, you will discover straight away whether or not your project is eligible, which will save a lot of time in the long run. 

Your project will only receive funding if it achieves the objectives of the grant provider, so make sure you demonstrate this clearly in your application and also try to show how the project would not take place or achieve the same benefits without the grant.

The different types of grant funding available

Grant schemes usually focus on supporting specific objectives or activities. Here are some of the more common areas that you may be able to receive support for: 


A comprehensive range of funding is available to firms looking to innovate and create new products, services or processes, particularly those which have high growth potential or support sustainability and the green agenda. 

Research and development (R&D) grants focusing on specific industries are regularly introduced. There is also currently EU funding support for innovative small and medium-sized businesses, although it remains to be seen what happens with this in a post-Brexit UK economy. 

There are also tax incentives to support R&D activities, is it is worth working with an R&D tax professional to see what relief your business may be able to apply for.

International Trade

The Government's Department for International Trade offers a host of import and export funding and support services. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to find out more. 


Regional funding to support growth through capital investment and job creation is available via the Local Enterprise Partnerships across the East Midlands. If your business is in an economically disadvantaged area, especially one with high unemployment, you may be eligible for additional support.

Energy and the environment

With green business high on the Government's agenda, grants are available to support businesses that invest in energy efficiency and environmental improvements, as well as companies developing energy and environmental products.

Enhanced capital allowances can reduce the taxable profits of businesses that install energy saving equipment, while you may also be able to access grant funding for new or refurbished buildings that aim to improve energy use.


Skills and training is another Government priority and funding is available to businesses to support the development of skills and capability of staff, particularly via  apprenticeships. 


Again, another key Government priority which is seeing funding being focused on helping firms to access superfast broadband connectivity and enhance their digital skills and capabilities. Locally, the Digital Growth Programme is a good place to start. It offers fully-funded training to eligible SMEs, as well as grants to help eligible businesses invest in new technologies that support job creation and growth. 

Sector-specific funding

This is a relatively broad heading, but funding may be available to support sector-specific business activities including rural diversification, creative industries, tourism, agriculture and food and drink, alongside programmes which support new business innovations in areas where traditional industries such as steel, coal, textiles and fishing have collapsed.

Local start-up business grants

Support at a local level, such as subsidised rent and rates or small grants for start-up/retail businesses etc, is often available. Business centres and industrial estates may offer their own local schemes as well, as a way of encouraging businesses to locate there. 

Where can I look for grant funding

There will be a host of business support and funding organisations from across the East Midlands all under one roof on 27 February, at Love Business 2020, so if you need help navigating the grant funding landscape, make sure you book your FREE delegate place now and get the advice and support you need on the day. 

If you can't wait until then, the best place to get help is either through your local Chamber of Commerce or the Growth Hub for your area, or other business support organisations like the FSB or IoD.


Growth Hubs


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