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Regions and nations funding guide for smaller businesses

In 2021, the Government announced a £1.6 billion commitment to new and existing regional funding programmes, aiming to support smaller businesses across the UK's regions and devolved nations in areas such as early-stage development and capital.

Funding can take many forms – from grants and loans to discount or rebate schemes that cover expenses, such as investing in new IT equipment.

Many schemes are designed to boost local employment and benefit the wider region, rather than simply as capital for business growth.

Regions and devolved nations across the UK have different organisations, funding levels, and schemes available.

Many are supported by the Government or organisations such as the British Business Bank.

We rounded up a few of the many funding schemes available to help get you started, but as each region is different and schemes evolve, you may need to research funding options and schemes local to your business for the most up-to-date funding programmes.

Some organisations, such as the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), are good places to start.

They operate regionally, and while they don't generally directly fund businesses, they may be able to introduce smaller companies to other funding schemes through their networking and support activities.

The BCC has a Chambers finder covering the UK, and the FSB has an FSB Regions and Nations finder to locate regional branches.

SMEs in Northern Ireland have access to Invest Northern Ireland, which supports businesses in the region.

  • NI Small Business Loan Fund – Offers SMEs loans of up to £100,000, and SMEs can apply for funding for expansion or market development.
  • Growth Finance Fund – £30m fund for loans that support businesses in Northern Ireland with strong growth potential or SMEs demonstrating growth. Loans are provided over a 2-7 year period, and eligible companies have to be able to show they can service loan repayments from projected cash flows.

Scottish businesses can apply for grants through agencies such as the Scottish Growth Scheme and Scottish Enterprise.

  • Business Loans Scotland - £15m fund that invests either in start-ups or growing Scottish SMEs. Businesses can borrow anywhere between £25,000-£100,000 from their start-up and growth loan. This loan allows for a five-year repayment period, with interest rates fixed at 6%.
  • Scottish Venture Fund -Offering financial support to Scottish SMEs who can show how the investment will benefit Scotland.

Regional funding in Wales is available through government agencies and the Development Bank of Wales.

  • Small business loans -Offers loans between £1,000-£50,000 for SMEs in Wales. Flexible packages are available depending on business needs, with support from a local account manager.
  • Business Wales - Provides information on the types of finance available to SMEs in Wales and how to apply, from bank loans to equity finance.

England has a network of Growth Hubs designed to offer 100% coverage across England's regions for the nation's 4.7m businesses.

There are 38 Growth Hubs that provide advice, support, networking and, in many cases, access to funding to support business growth.

The network of Growth Hubs is a local public/private sector partnership led by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP).

Its Local Growth Hub Contacts finder includes links to all 38 hubs across England.

They operate regionally, and while they don't generally directly fund businesses, they may be able to introduce smaller companies to other funding schemes through their networking and support activities.

The BCC has a Chambers finder covering the UK, and the FSB has an FSB Regions and Nations finder to locate regional branches.

  • North East Growth Hub - A variety of funds that can support businesses, ranging from funds that help a business' energy efficiency to business loans. Educational institutions such as Newcastle University and Durham University are involved with this growth hub.
  • GC Business Growth Hub -This growth hub provides access to finance, business strategy advice, sustainability schemes and case studies for SMEs in the Greater Manchester region.
  • The Business Hub Cumbria – works across Cumbria and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, with free and impartial advice available from advisors.
  • Tees Valley Business – Growth Hub supporting local businesses with support and access to finance and funding.
  • Boost Business Lancashire – Growth hub that has helped over 8,000 local businesses, including access to mentors and tools.
  • Growth Platform – Tailored to support businesses based in Liverpool, includes access to a £20m fund to enable local business growth that creates or secures jobs.
  • Cheshire and Warrington LEP – Access different forms of finance, with grants available up to £15,000 to help unlock growth potential.

  • York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub – Focused on helping businesses in the Yorkshire area start, grow and scale with access to where to find funding, grants and loans.
  • Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership – Aimed at businesses in West Yorkshire, Craven, Harrogate, Selby, and York get access to support, with growth funding up to £50,000 available.
  • HEY Growth Hub – Support for companies in the Hull and East Yorkshire region, including access to funding schemes such as #GrowMySME and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
  • South Yorkshire Business – Formerly known as the Sheffield City Region, as well as business advice, it provides access to finance brokers and a funding finder.

Both the East and West Midlands have growth hubs and funding options for business.

  • Business Lincolnshire – Growth hub that has supported over 35,000 businesses with over 1,460 grant approvals and funding of over £5m.
  • D2N2 – Provides business support to companies in Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, with £15m in secured funding and creating 350 jobs.
  • LLEP Growth Hub – Practical support for Leicester and Leicester businesses, including tailored guidance and funding through its Business Gateway Grant Scheme of up to £25,000.
  • Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Growth Hub – From free 1-2-1 business advice and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, it offers a Small Business Grant Scheme for up to £10,000.
  • Marches Growth Hub – Grant funding for businesses in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, including up to £20,000 in grants to support energy efficiency programmes.
  • Black Country Growth Hub – Free business support for enterprises in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton that offers funding through discounted schemes such as software and training.
  • Greater Birmingham & Solihull Growth Hub – Get access to a business finance finder that includes business loans, asset finance and working capital.
  • Worcestershire Growth Hub – Get advice on the latest and most suitable funding options covering finance such as grants, investment finance and crowdfunding.
  • CWLEP Growth Hub – Covering Coventry and Warwickshire, it offers free and impartial advice for businesses seeking to raise finance or access other funding schemes.
  • SEMLEP's Growth Hub – Covering South East Midlands includes access to a series of innovation and sustainability grants such as the Green Recovery and Innovation Programme, with up to £10,000 available.

  • New Anglia Growth Hub – Access numerous grants and financial advice, such as grants of up to £10,000 for social enterprises in Norfolk to the Future Farming Resilience Fund.
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Growth Hub – As well as information and support, offers finance and funding such as a revenue grant scheme of up to £6,500 match funding.
  • Hertfordshire Growth Hub – Registered users can access a GrantFinder to search for funding, supported with advice and support on choosing the proper financing for your business.

For the South East, schemes that provide funding to businesses are:

  • South East Business Hub –This fund covers the areas of Essex, East Sussex, Kent, Medway, Thurrock, and Southend. It includes advice and links to the funding options SMEs in the South East can access.
  • South East Local Enterprise Partnership –Works with businesses across all sectors based in the South East, providing insight into capital investment provided to growth hubs and the contact information for growth hubs in the region.
  • South East Business Boost -SEBB offers around 150 growth grants to help SMEs with the cost of expanding. The grant can reimburse up to 30% of qualifying projects to support business growth. Some sectors, such as retail facilities and shipping, aren't eligible.
  • Coast to Capital – Covers businesses located in West Sussex, Brighton and Hove, and East Surrey, with funding options including Invest4 grant funds that cover 40% of specific business growth investments.
  • Buckinghamshire Business First – Access a range of funding advice and investment funding, such as the DIT's Internationalisation Fund and funding for innovation.
  • OxLEP – The Growth Hub for Oxfordshire, which committed £2.24m in funding businesses in 2021, has numerous grant schemes and details of how to apply.
  • Berkshire Growth Hub – Offers advice and links to funding and grant schemes designed to help businesses grow – from opening a new location to buying new equipment.
  • Enterprise M3 – Includes access to a dedicated funding portal that includes grants, funding, and schemes aimed at business growth.
  • Solent LEP Growth Hub – Funding and investment available for businesses in and around the Solent area, such as the New Forest Rural SME Fund and the Isle of Wight Rural SME Fund.

In the South West, SMEs have access to funding opportunities through:

  • Growth Hub Cornwall & Isles of Scilly – Provides help and support, and includes details of relevant funding schemes that local businesses can apply for.
  • Heart of the South West Growth Hub -Access business support programmes, depending on your SME's priorities. This growth hub covers Devon, Somerset, and the South West areas.
  • West of England Growth Hub - Supports SMEs in Somerset, Bristol, and South Gloucestershire. SMEs in these regions can apply for financial support such as green business grants, seek advice on intellectual property (IP) and request carbon surveys to understand their energy emissions.
  • The Growth Hub – Supports business growth in Gloucestershire with free help and advice for local firms on bidding for funding such as grant schemes.
  • Swindon & Wiltshire Growth Hub – Access news about new grant and funding schemes, as well as Funder Finder tool for unlocking business finance.
  • Dorset Gateway – With an overarching aim to create employment and foster economic growth, local businesses can access finance such as the Growing Places Fund designed to unlock capital projects.

Regional support

Enter your postcode to find business support and case studies from businesses within your region. You'll be taken to our interactive map.

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.

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