What are grants and why should you consider applying for one?
A grant is an investment in your business, but unlike a traditional investment, a grant does not need to be re-paid. Grants are often viewed as: cash in kind, a subsidy, or even a gift in kind.
They are ‘opportunistic’ and may not fund certain types of projects, types or stages of business, but if you are eligible to apply, it is free money.
Most grants are match funded, meaning the business is also required to contribute to the overall cost of the project and all larger grant contributions come with hefty criteria attached, as do loan and investment applications.
Publicly funded schemes are designed to encourage new and growing businesses, to stimulate growth and ultimately create jobs. To help achieve this the government makes available a portion of taxpayers’ money to help and encourage enterprise through business grants.
Reasons to apply for a business grant.
Access to finance is important for growth and productivity.
Grants will ease cash flow pressures - investment helps achieve a sustainable business – often grants will unleash projects your business may not otherwise afford. Unleashing a new project can help realize growth or generate new revenue streams. Grants contribute to expansion plans - boost innovation, which in turn helps your business grow.
Grants make your investment and your working capital go further.
“I don’t have the time to apply”
We hear this a lot and though we recognize how valuable your time is, it is essential you’re accessing finance and investing in your business, for your business to grow and flourish.
Not having the time to apply suggests you may not be spending enough time on strategic planning, or simply not doing what’s important to generate growth.
It’s a fact, applying for grants is an investment of time and for many can be quite an arduous process. Yet if the sums add up, unleashing a project, can potentially generate a healthy return on investment.
“What is the solution?”
If time is against you, perhaps consider outsourcing to a professional bid writer, or seek an adviser who will give you the guidance necessary to submit a robust application.
Most grant funded initiatives do offer guidance notes, that so many people fail to read.
How do I know my application will be successful?
You don’t. But you will significantly increase your chances if you demonstrate your project will either:
- generate a return on investment
- unleash growth
- create employment, and or
- impact the local economy.
What sort of grants are available?
The small business enabler grants tend to offer a broader spec for investment and can be much easier to apply to. The average contribution to a matched funded project may range from a £1,000 to £5,000.
The small business grants, may invest in projects like: web design, marketing materials, training & specialist consultancy support.
Small business grants are available from most East & West Sussex Local Authorities or management agencies, like Locate East Sussex.
Larger grant contributions, £10k plus, impose stricter criteria, and are employment focused. The funder will ask for supporting evidence and these tend to be for Capital Investment projects such as: new equipment, premises, refurbishment and transport.
There are Business Growth Grants available, from £3,000 to £25,000 match funded contributions.
Other grants worth looking at are:
- The Leader grant - designed for rural businesses, wanting to diversify or make a capex investment. (Available to rural businesses trading mostly across the South Downs).
- Innovation grants are available through Innovate UK. You can apply for funding to test the feasibility of your idea, research and development and to create a prototype. (this grant is awarded through a funded competition).
Where do I go to source a grant for my business?
The MDHUBs white paper contains a comprehensive list of grants available. Helpful tips on how to apply for a grant as well as a list of organizations who can help you source a grant.