Each year, hundreds of millions of pounds in grants, as well as finance such as loans and equity investment, are on offer to help SMEs undertake an array of business-related projects and activities.
• retrain and employ new staff
• invest in new facilities, equipment and processes
• carry out innovative R&D
• diversify into new markets
• undertake marketing initiatives
Where an individual is starting out or seeking to develop their business, getting financial support is likely to be their number one objective. Business funding comes from a variety of sources, including regional programmes provided by the European Commission and public sector funding streamed through organisations such as the LEPs.
Together with venture capital and angel investment networks, there are thousands of funds available to support new and growing small businesses. Each year, hundreds of millions of pounds in grants, as well as finance such as loans and equity investment, are on offer to help SMEs undertake an array of business-related projects and activities. Key sources of funding currently in operation include the following:
Funding Options: This company offers to find the right finance for your small business by asking a number of questions about your funding needs and circumstances and then matches you to finance providers based on their differing eligibility criteria. As you answer the questions, potential business lenders are ranked by likely suitability, as well as an indication of cost and speed. If your finance needs are complex, a Funding Options team member will introduce themselves to support you through the process. The service is free to use. It has been chosen by the government-owned British Business Bank to help SMEs find finance when they’re unsuccessful with the major banks.
Energy Catalyst: This new ‘catalyst’ fund is intended to support innovative UK companies and researchers in developing their early-stage low-carbon energy technologies into commercial successes. Funding body: Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Max. value: £25,000,000.
Start-up Loans: A personal loan-style funding initiative for entrepreneurs in the UK wishing to start up a new business. Funding body: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Max. value: £25,000.
HSBC Business Growth Fund. The Business Growth Fund is a £6 billion programme aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses in the UK to realise their growth ambitions. Funding body: HSBC Bank Plc.
Santander Breakthrough Programme Support to help the UK’s fastest–growing small and medium-sized enterprises to accelerate their operations. Selected businesses will receive funding and financial advice, as well as the chance to visit successful companies and learn from leading entrepreneurs. Funding body: Santander Corporate Banking.
Recruitment Entrepreneur of 2015 Funding and mentoring from business expert and investor James Caan to help one exceptional entrepreneur in the UK to start or grow their own recruitment business. Funding body: Resourcing Capital Ventures Limited. Max. value: £500,000.
Transmit Start-Up Loans. Start-up loans available to new business founders aged 18 and over in Scotland and England. Funding body: HM Government Max. value: £25,000.
Innovate UK Innovation Vouchers providing funding for UK businesses, enabling them to work with external experts for the first time, gaining new knowledge to help them innovate, develop and grow. Funding body: Innovate UK Max. value: £5,000.
Welsh Government Innovation Vouchers. Financial assistance available to SMEs in Wales to access private and academic sector expertise and services to facilitate innovative development. Funding body: Welsh Government Max. value: £25,000.
Super Connected Cities Connection Vouchers Funding for small and medium-sized businesses in cities including Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Derry/ Londonderry, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Newport, Oxford, Perth, Portsmouth, Salford and York to help them connect to better quality, high-speed broadband. Funding body: Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Max. value: £3,000.
Tracey McRobert is a growth manager at independent grant funding specialists T4C.