What is a Grant?
A business grant is in essence money given to your business to advance your business in some way.
As the details below will show a grant will often be for a very specific reason. This can be e.g. you are developing your business in a particular geography and it is hope your business will create jobs and wealth in the area.
It can be an innovation grant – to encourage the development of innovative ideas. This will also have sub categories. For example their may be an innovation grant available for developing solutions in the clean energy space.
Is a grant the same as a loan?
In one way it is. It provides a cash injection into your business. But in one big way it isn’t. A grant does not have to be paid back. A loan will be for a set period of time and need to be paid back with a pre-agreed interest rate.
Is a business grant free money?
In some ways a business grant is just that, free money. However, often you will have to put into your business as much money as the grant. For example if you won an innovation grant for £100,000 to develop an advancement in x-ray technology, you may have to provide “matched funding” and also put in £100,000.
In other ways grants are not free:
- It often takes a lot of preparation to be ready to complete a grant application (for the free money). However, the competition to win is normally high. There will be a lot more winners than losers and for all those who did not win a grant – they put in a lot of time and effort for no reward.
- On-going reporting. If you are successful in winning a business grant – keep in mind there will often be a requirement for on-going reporting regarding the project that enabled you to win the grant. So if we continue the same example – you will need to show how you are progressing towards creating a new x-ray imagine solution in order to receive the next installment of the grant.
Where can I apply for grants
There are many sources of business grants and it makes a lot of sense to apply for them if you feel you meet the criteria. (Normally a grant process will include very clear guidance as to who can apply for a grant and the criteria they need to meet to stand a chance of being successful at winning a grant).
A good place to start is with the UK government:
They will have different priorities at different times. For example currently the UK government are offering grants connected with the challenges of running your business in light of Covid 19: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/46-billion-in-new-lockdown-grants-to-support-businesses-and-protect-jobs
They also have on-going grant application opportunities:
as you will see on the above link there are a lot of opportunities to look for grants. From that long list you can hone your search and start to look at specific grants for your business, for example:
on the above link is the Innovate UK listing of grants. If your small business is innovative and you are trying to break new ground (like the x-ray imaging example) search on the innovate UK grant listing for your area of expertise.
Should I apply for a business grant?
Winning a business grant is not easy. However, if you can navigate the options for a business grant and find the right one (or more) for your business you can in essence gain a fantastic additional source of funding for your business. Amazing!