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Applying for grants and funding

What is a business grant?

Business grants are essentially payments provided by either the UK government or a private organisation for a specific purpose, such as expansion, research and development, or training.

They’re different from other forms of finance, as the business is not required to pay the grant back nor give away a share of the firm in exchange. Grants of a few thousand pounds are the most common, but grants can be awarded for up to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Larger grants are often then supplemented by other forms of finance by the organisation itself.

There are many different types of business grants available across the UK, and some sectors are more active than others - such as export, energy, and innovation.

Some example of the types of grants you may come across:

  • 'Green' grants which focus on supporting sustainability
  • Business expansion/job creation grants
  • Direct grants providing a direct sum, but most likely required to be allocated to a specific project
  • Resource and training grants for development

Why should I apply for a business grant?

Applying for a business grant can be time-consuming and require a lot of resources in order to complete to a high standard. If you’re looking to grow your business, see an opportunity for expansion, or have recognised a challenge within your business, it’s definitely worth the effort to potentially receive some sizable funding.

If your team is stretched for time, there’s always the option of hiring a grant bid writer (most tend to do this on a freelance/ad-hoc basis) to help out. Grant bid writers are well versed in the process and will also be able to offer a wealth of experience and knowledge, of both the awarding organisations and what exactly they’re looking for in the application.

Here’s why it’s worth taking the time to apply:

  • No repayment is required
  • You’ll retain equity, meaning you still have 100% control of your business
  • They often work well with business loans or equity finance, and allow firms to raise capital from multiple sources
  • There’s often a waterfall effect - once you receive your first grant award, this may increase your chances of being awarded more in the future
  • Allows your business to grow and develop

Advice on applying for a business grant

The application process can seem daunting at first, especially for smaller businesses that may not have applied previously. However, we’ve pulled together a list of our top tips to help you to navigate through the process.

  1. Make sure to do your research first, and tailor your application to what the grant is looking to support
  2. Apply as early as you can
  3. Be as detailed and specific as possible, and show them clearly how you fulfil the eligibility criteria
  4. Be clear and simple in your application - don’t use any acronyms or internal language (and if you need to, make sure it’s clearly explained)
  5. Most importantly, make sure that you meet the deadline!

Where can I apply for a business grant?

The best place to start is online - we’d advise using the government's Business Finance Finder to begin with. Here, you can search for any funding opportunities that may be suited to your business.

Another, more local resource to utilise is your Local Growth Hub, which will display grant opportunities that are specific to your region.

We’ve also partnered up with the East Midlands Chamber, an organisation dedicated to enhancing East Midlands based businesses and communities across Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

To find out more about the membership benefits of joining the East Midlands Chamber, click here.

Here are some great sources of information

East Midlands Chamber

East Midlands Chamber has a dedicated ‘Access to Funding and Grants’ section on their website, full of useful information for local businesses.

Their specialist teams have the knowledge and expertise to advise firms on the latest financial support to best suit your business, based on its size, location, sector and individual needs. East Midlands Chamber works with both regional and national organisations to provide access to funding and grants.

Grants available via East Midlands Chamber

The D2N2 Growth Hub Newsletter will help you to keep up to date with all training and events taking place around the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire region. A comprehensive list of local training and workshops, including accelerator events can be found on their website.

Furthermore, details of local support are regularly added to the D2N2 Growth Hub website - including the local access to finance area. We’d encourage all businesses to sign up for the newsletter distributed by your local authority to stay informed about what opportunities are available.

In the Leicestershire area, business support is led primarily by Business Gateway. For the county areas (except Charnwood), business advice is delivered through the Leicestershire Business Advice Service.

For Lincolnshire based businesses, we’d also highly recommend utilising the Business Lincolnshire Growth Hub for advice and guidance regarding grants.

The British Business Bank

The British Business Bank has launched a new guide, aimed at smaller organisations, to help them to understand how different financial products can support them at the different stages of their development.

The guide is titled ‘Making business finance work for you’ and is available to access via the Online Hub.

We’d recommend downloading this helpful guide if you’re looking for help with making informed decisions about accessing the right type of finance for your business. It also goes through the most common challenges that you may face, and the types of support available to help with each.

For more information or any queries about grants and funding opportunities in the East Midlands, please get in touch with our team - we’re happy to help.