Funding a startup can be a difficult and stressful time. When you do this, it’s important to consider your options. For instance, there are over 200 government grants available to UK businesses. This can be a favourable option for many small companies. Often these won’t need repayment or equity in return for funding. If you’re interested in startup grant funding, here’s some essential advice from Innovate UK.
Research Your Options
“Be bold, there are a wide range of grants available for projects that involve significant innovation – think disruptive innovation not incremental” – Paula Rogers-Brown, National Venturefest Network Manager.
First thing’s first, you’re going to need to find a grant to apply for. Gov.uk is a great place to start – here you’ll find a full list of government grants for both startups and established businesses. Be sure to research potential regional opportunities as well as national. Some funding is only offered to specific geographical locations.
Some sectors see more funding than others. Manufacturing and tech businesses are the most likely to find support through government grants. While research and development is another area that attracts financial support.
Ensure You’re Eligible
“Read the documentation fully and familiarise yourself with the scope and eligibility criteria” – Richard Awbery, Customer Support Executive at Innovate UK.
Once settled on a grant, you need to be sure you’re actually eligible. Grants will usually have very specific criteria in order to only attract certain types of projects. Be sure you can meet this before wasting time and resources applying.
When it comes to confirming eligibility, you’re going to need accurate details like:
- Business size
- Business type
- Current funding
- Reason for wanting the grant
Some grants require match-funding, be sure you can afford this before applying.
Prepare Fully Before Applying
“Preparation at the bid stage really pays off, greatly improving the chances of success at the assessment stage and throughout the project” – David Elson, Innovation Lead at Innovate UK.
Give your application the best possible chance by doing all the necessary preparation. Before you look for funding, have a solid business plan in place. This should include sales projections, cash flow as well as profit and loss forecasts. You should tailor your business plan to the specific grant you’re applying for, in the same way, you’d tailor a CV for a job application.
Explore Possible Alternatives
“Look for loans that are unsecured, so there’s no need to put forward any assets of guarantors to support an application” – David English, Chief Marketing Officer at Startup Loans Company.
A grant may not be the right choice for you. There are plenty of other viable alternatives. Soft loans, for instance, are loans with lower interest rates and more generous lending terms. These are usually government backed and will only need paying back once you start earning a profit.
Other potential funding options your startup may benefit from:
- UK Export Finance – for businesses looking to export
- Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme – for young entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 30
- StartUp Loans – soft loans and other business funding opportunities
- UK’s Finance Finder – help to find funding opportunities for your business
If you’re interested in finding more business advice videos like this, you can subscribe to Innovate UK’s YouTube channel here.
Additionally, you can follow @InnovateUK on Twitter here.
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