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Government Grants For Start-ups

Considering this type of funding? Louise Ramsay answers the key questions Government Grants For Start-ups

It might be that you’ve a brilliant business idea and can’t wait to bring it to market or you’ve already got a start-up on the go, but need help to develop it. Either way, a government grant can be a great way to give your business a boost.

Unlike a loan, the best thing about a government grant is that you don’t have to pay it back. An attractive way to raise funding, lower your start-up costs and help grow your business, it isn’t however necessarily the easiest way to do it.

There are literally hundreds of government grants out there to fund businesses, often for very different, very specific purposes, so not only do you need to make sure you can find a grant that’s appropriate for the help you need, you also need to be able to prove it.

Within this, there are often lots of processes and stages to go through when applying and each grant will have its own funding criteria. A time consuming, complicated process, it, however, might be that if you’re prepared to do the work, a grant could be just what your business needs to move forward.

Where do I find out about government business grants?

The majority of small business grants are aimed at start-ups or new businesses, the intention to create jobs and benefit the economy. There are, however, a few grants available for businesses that have been open for a while.

In the UK, the Business Finance Support Finder is a good place to start. Business Wales also provides information about a similar range of grants on its website.

Scotland’s Funding Opportunities offers access to hundreds of grants and funding options, while Enterprise Ireland’s website provides links to numerous funding opportunities, including grants.

If you’re looking to do business outside of the UK, grant funding doesn’t stop at our borders - at least, for now. UK residents can still apply for EU funding - check out the Enterprise Europe Network to find out what sort of support is available through EU grants.

What sorts of government business grants are out there?

There are all kinds of government grants - from ones that can reduce your costs through to cash awards you can invest to grow your business.

Generally, your grant will be provided to you directly to cover essential start-up costs such as equipment, staff training or building refurbishment. These grants can be very generous - up to £500,000, depending on your business sector.

How do I successfully apply for a grant?

First of all, do your research. Grants are, on the whole, aimed at specific business types or targeted at particular communities, so you need to ensure you’re eligible before you even start to think about making an application.

For instance, a grant might only be available to a limited company or a business with a certain amount of employees.

You also need to check your funding, as you’ll be expected to match the grant awarded to you, though by how much will depend on each individual scheme.

It’s important to apply early - you’re much more likely to receive funding if you get your application in when a scheme first launches. Grants may have a limited pot of money to invest, so early on there’s simply more funding available and less competition to get it.

Filling in the form

Grants are often for very specific projects, such as buying computers. However, in this instance, rather than detail the kind of computers you want, it’s more important to use your application to show how acquiring them will help your business to grow and the benefit this will bring to others.

You must scrutinise the grant objectives and refer to them as closely as possible on your application form - a bit like using a job description to apply for a job. You’ll also need to include a great business plan and if you’ve already started trading, examples of your expenditure and income so far.

Best bets for funding

It goes without saying that some areas or industries are more likely to be funded than others. Does your business fit into one of these?

Export business

Exporting goods and services is a key driver to improving UK economic performance, so if you’ve got ideas for a business that involves exporting, it’s a great time to advance them. There’s lots of information and support to be found from UK Trade & Investment to help you on your way.

Tech investment

It doesn’t take much to work out that to keep the UK up to speed in a rapidly evolving global technology market, innovative businesses need to be encouraged to invent.

There are lots of opportunities out there for budding tech wizards to build their businesses and Innovate UK has all the latest information about what’s out there. Read more like this

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