What are business grants?
When a business is seeking to access finance, one of the first places they tend to look is grants finance.
In this article we’ll explain what business grants are, where you can find them, and offer some tips for how you can apply.
What is a business grant?
Business grants are payments provided by either the Government or a private organisation for a specific purpose, such as training, expansion, or research & development.
Where they differ from any other form of finance is that you don’t have to pay it back.
Nor do you have to give away a share of your business in exchange.
Grants can be awarded for up to hundreds of thousands of pounds, but most grant awards are typically for up to a few thousand pounds so in many instances, grants will need to be supplemented by other forms of finance.
Examples of business grants
Grants are customarily designed to support a specific project or objective, such as encouraging businesses to adopt environmentally friendly practices, improving digital connectivity, or backing female entrepreneurs.
As such, there is a wide variety of grants available, each focused on different aspects of a business.
- Green grants focus on specific objectives like enhancing sustainability.
- Job creation grants are aimed at facilitating business expansion, thus creating more employment opportunities.
- Direct grants are those that provide a direct cash sum. However, this money may need to be allocated to a particular purpose or project.
- Resource and training grants offer resources like training, mentorship, and workshops, which can be crucial for your business's growth in addition to the funding
- While not technically grants, tax relief schemes can provide additional funding.
It's important to note that some grants are industry and location-specific.
You can explore more funding opportunities for small businesses by checking the gov.uk grants directory.
Filter the results by region to find the grants available in your local area.
How are business grants paid?
It depends on the specific grant you’re applying for. You might:
- receive your grant as a single lump sum upfront
- be reimbursed after spending your own money
- need to match the value of your grant before you receive it.
Business grants usually have very specific eligibility criteria.
These can vary, but often take account of things such as:
- the size of your business
- where you're based
- the sector you're in
- what you'll use the grant money for.
Where can I find a business grant?
Often the best place to begin your search for a business grant is online.
The Government’s business finance finder is a good place to look for grant funding that suits your business.
It’s also a good idea to check with your Local Growth Hub for grants available in your specific area.
A sometimes-overlooked source of grant funding are small business and industry associations.
These bodies may either run their own grant awards process or have information about grants available elsewhere that they can pass along to their members.
Finally, your accountant may also be aware of some grant funding and may have had other clients for whom they have supported applications.
Business grant eligibility criteria
Business grants typically have strict eligibility criteria.
These concern things such as:
- the region you’re based in
- the type of business you run
- whether the provider has an area of focus which your business could help with.
Application processes can be long and time-consuming, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
It all depends on the rules and conditions of each individual grant programme.
As a result, it’s always a good idea to speak to the provider to find out what’s involved in the process and whether you’re eligible.
Some business grants are provided in the form of finance, while others offer free equipment or discounts to aid your business’ development.
Whatever form your grant takes, there will be conditions attached so it’s important to make sure you fully understand these.
Should I hire a grant bid writer?
If your schedule doesn't permit you to monitor upcoming grants or explore current opportunities, engaging a grant consultant can be a viable solution.
Grant bid writers are well-versed in the application process and can efficiently manage applications on your behalf.
They also have the expertise to liaise with awarding organisations, which can be particularly useful when dealing with larger bodies that may be challenging to reach.
While hiring a grant bid writer might entail significant cost, it could prove to be a worthwhile investment if their knowledge and experience help secure the necessary funding for your project.
However, bear in mind that some awarding entities do not accept applications made through consulting firms.
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Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.
Making business finance work for you
Starting a business doesn’t come with a set of instructions.
We know that understanding the many different types of financial product in the marketplace can be difficult.
Our Making business finance work for you guide is designed to help you make an informed choice about accessing the right type of finance for you and your business.