Business Grants – A Free Helping Hand for Start-Ups

In the UK, there are literally hundreds of millions of pounds in government-backed grants and assistance available to businesses. The problem is, however, where to find the right grant for you. This helpful guide includes tips and advice on the best places to start looking for available funds so that your new business can get the best possible start.

Business Support Finder

Most business grants are sourced from the government, Business Link, local authorities, Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), the European Union, or occasionally a charity. The quickest and simplest way to find out which of their funds may be available to you is to use the Business Support Finder grant database. This free online service is easy to use: type in your business location, business sector and your support needs, and moments later a list will appear showing links to all relevant funding opportunities to which you may be eligible.

Regional Development Agencies

Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) are one of the main sources of grants to new businesses in the UK. Although their investment pots have dwindled somewhat in recent years, England’s nine RDAs, for example, still have cumulative funds of £1.76 billion (2010-2011). Here are links to the UK’s RDAs: England’s nine RDAs; Northern Ireland; Wales (see also Wales European Funding Office); and Scottish Enterprise (see also Highlands and Islands Enterprise). Incidentally, Local Enterprise Partnerships are set to replace RDAs by March 2012.

Innovation, Research & Development

There are many grants available to start-ups in the fields of innovation, research and development. Follow the relevant regional link to access more information: England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Other potential sources of financial include: R&D tax credits; The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI); Innovation Vouchers; European R&D Grants; and EUREKA – a pan-Europe funding initiative.

Grant for Business Investment (GBI)

If you need a substantial grant to help with the cost of expensive assets such as business premises, staff, equipment or machinery, consider applying for a Grant for Business Investment (GBI). To find out if your company is eligible, head over to the Business Link site, where you’ll find comprehensive information, tips on applying, plus contact details. Please note that the initiative is known as Enterprise NI Loan Fund (ENILF) in Northern Ireland and Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) in Scotland.

Further funding opportunities

Other business grant and assistance schemes include: Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme (EFG); Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF); European Small Business Portal; European Investment Fund; Capital for Enterprise; and The Prince’s Trust (for youthful entrepreneurs).

The resources listed above mark just the tip of the iceberg, and there are many more grant and financial assistance schemes available to UK businesses (over 6000 according to grant database, Grantfinder). With that in mind, it’s time to start searching. Remember, the money is intended to encourage entrepreneurship and stimulate business success in the UK, so if your start-up meets the criteria, you could be in line for a significant cash award.

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