Business grants simplified

The Swoop platform has over 100 business grant options for UK SMEs of different sizes and sectors – check your eligibility and apply quickly and easily.

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Popular UK grants

Innovate UK Smart Grant

£100,000

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26/08/2021

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  • Apply for a share of £25m from Innovate UK
  • Eligible projects of between £25k and £2m
  • Funding to deliver game-changing innovative R&D
  • Projects of 6-18 month projects
  • Check your eligibility with Swoop

The Carbon Trust

£5,000

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Open Ended

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  • Eligible SME’s can apply for up to £5,000
  • Fund 15% of cost for energy efficient equipment upgrades
  • Available to SME’s based in England, Scotland and Wales
  • Check your eligibility with Swoop.

County Durham Growth Fund

£100,000

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Open Ended

access_time Closing date
  • Available to SME’s in County Durham
  • Businesses expanding existing operations in County Durham
  • Businesses planning to create additional employment before 2023
  • Check your eligibility with Swoop

What is a business grant?

A business grant is a sum of money awarded to a business to help it grow and develop – the money could be invested in training, equipment or reaching new markets, for example. Business grants are usually awarded by the government or other companies and, unlike a business loan, business grants do not need to be repaid.

What grants are available for start-ups and small businesses in the UK?

There are hundreds of business grants available in the UK, with many aimed at specific industries, community groups or types of business. If you’re a start-up or small business you’ll be able to choose from the following:

Innovation grants: these are provided by a variety of funding bodied such as Innovate UK to support innovative ideas and business growth, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund: provides grants to sustain and transform the UK’s heritage. This can include investment in museums, parks, historic places and cultural traditions.

R&D Tax Credits: these are cash payments from the government to encourage companies to carry out research and development projects that relate to science or technology. 

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs): there are 38 LEPs across England. These are voluntary partnerships between local authorities and businesses that provide business funding, support and guidance in their local areas.

New Enterprise Allowance: provides funding and support to those looking to start or develop a business. You need to be aged 18 or over and either you or your partner must receive Universal Credit, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, or you must get Income Support and be a lone parent, sick or disabled.

The Prince’s Trust: supports young people aged 18 to 30 who want to start and run their own business. As well as providing funding and resources, the Trust also provides training and mentoring.

Where can I find small business grants in the UK?

There’s a range of funding and grant options available for small businesses, depending on where you live in the UK.

  • Small business grants in England

There are 38 regional Growth Hubs to be found on the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) Network website and these can provide funding and advice to help boost your business in your local economy.

  • Small business grants in Scotland

Depending on where you live in Scotland, you may be able to apply for a business grant from Scottish Enterprise, or you could be eligible for a grant from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise or local councils. Take a look at the Scottish Government’s funding advice page for more information.

  • Small business grants in Wales

The finance locator on the Business Wales website can help you look for grants your business may be able to apply for and it also provides information on the application process. You may be able to get funding from the Welsh government, the UK government, local authorities and charitable organisations.

  • Small business grants in Northern Ireland

If your business is based in Northern Ireland, nibusinessinfo.co.uk provides a number of resources to help you understand your grant options. This includes government support, as well as innovation, and research and development grants including Invest NI Innovation Vouchers, which provide access to a public sector knowledge provider e.g. University, College or Institute of Technology to work with you on an innovation project.

How do I write a business grant proposal? 

When writing a business grant proposal, it’s worth keeping the following points in mind: 

  • Write in plain English and avoid jargon
  • Be specific about what you plan to do 
  • Show how your business meets the grant qualifying criteria 
  • Be clear what success looks like as a result of taking on a grant
  • Create specific aims and well-defined criteria to quantify success
  • Provide evidence that your team is capable of delivering the work, as well as a return on the grant funder’s investment
  • Make your budget as specific as possible

Writing a successful grant application is no easy task and it’s well worth your while engaging the services of a professional grant writer. Speak to our grant experts who can help maximise your chances of receiving a grant.

How do I apply for a small business grant? 

Swoop has a list of accessible grants you can apply for, whether you’re an established business or a start-up. You can view the many options available to you by signing up here. There’s a wide range of grants available across several sectors including grants for manufacturing, tech businesses, transport, energy, information and communication technologies, security, climate, aerospace, food, health, environment, and more.

Alternatives to grant funding

If you’re not sure whether grant funding is right for you and your business, there are alternatives to consider, including business loans and equity finance.

With a business loan, you simply borrow a lump sum of money and then repay this sum with added interest. You can typically borrow up to 25% of your annual turnover or £10,000 to £50 million. Lenders include high-street banks, challenger banks, online lenders and small local specialists.  

Equity finance, on the other hand, is a way of raising fresh capital by selling shares of your company in return for a share of the profits, usually a share in the ownership (equity) of the business and/or a share in the running of the business. It can be a good option for new or small businesses finding it hard to get a loan.

Frequently asked questions

In the March 2021 Budget, a £5 billion Restart grant was unveiled to offer up to £6,000 per premises for non-essential retail businesses and up to £18,000 per premises for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses.

The scheme aims to give businesses the financial certainty required to plan ahead and relaunch trading in coming months. Support is likely to be provided until 21 June 2021, when it’s hoped that all coronavirus restrictions will be lifted.

No, you won’t need to repay the amount awarded through a business grant, nor will you need to pay interest on it. However, most grants will require a level of matched funding for the project.

 

Yes you can. Although many grants are geared towards businesses that have been trading for one to two years or those that are more established, there are a number of grants specifically tailored towards businesses yet to start trading.

Yes – because you won’t be expected to repay grant money (as you would with a loan), bad credit shouldn’t be a problem.

However, it’s important to thoroughly check the general terms and criteria – such as business size, grant purpose, location and industry type – before you apply to make sure you qualify.

To make your application worthy of receiving funding, it’s important to do all the necessary preparation. As part of this, you’ll need a solid and realistic business plan with sales projections, cash flow and loss forecasts. Your business plan should be tailored for the grant you’re applying for and, if you are already trading, you’ll need to provide bank statements as evidence of your finances.

Always prepare your application as early as you can to ensure you don’t miss the deadline. It’s worth getting a second opinion from a mentor, senior colleague or expert and be sure to proofread and spell check your application before submitting it.

Innovation funds are grant funding programmes that offer financial backing to organisations and groups that are looking to research and develop a process, product or service, test innovative ideas and/or collaborate with other organisations. If your business has a focus on innovation or you are trying to bring a new product to the market, innovation funds could be a good option to explore.

The Smart Grant is Innovative UK’s ‘Open grant funding’ programme which seeks ‘the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas’ from almost any industry. All proposals must be business focused. The competition usually runs three to four times a year and project costs range from £25,000 to £2 million.

Yes, you can claim both. In fact, if you receive a grant, it’s likely that at least some of your development work will qualify for R&D tax credits. However, being awarded a grant will have an impact on your R&D tax credit claim, so it’s important to plan carefully and seek expert advice before proceeding.

Cash grants are usually taxable because they are classed as a form of income. This means that once you have subtracted the relevant allowances and expenses, the sum left over will be liable to tax.

Rachel Wait

Written by

Rachel Wait

Rachel has been writing about finance and consumer affairs for over a decade, helping people to get to grips with their finances and cut through the jargon. She’s written for a range of websites and national newspapers including MoneySuperMarket, Money to the Masses, Forbes UK, and Mail on Sunday. Rachel has covered almost every financial topic, from car insurance and credit cards, to business bank accounts and mortgages.

The Swoop Platform has over 100 grant options available.
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