Earlier this month, Entrepreneur Handbook published a list of over 200 private and publicly-funded business grants available to UK businesses, including SMEs. Cash grants range from hundreds to thousands of pounds, the highest generally reaching up to £500,000. Grants aren’t only cash rewards, many available to SMEs come in the form of vouchers for equipment and tools, reduced costs for vital resources and employment subsidisation. Some are regional and specific.
Bear in mind that the application process is usually complex and time-consuming, and you must consider whether you can afford to lose this investment if your application is unsuccessful. It’s worth noting specific sectors lend themselves better to achieving grant funding, namely businesses concerned with innovation, exports or the energy and environment sector, which are key drivers in the UK economy.
1. Princes Trust Grants
The Prince’s Trust grants have provided financial assistance to young entrepreneurs since 1976. They offer an exclusive Enterprise Program that provides funding and mentors to young individuals to help them start their own business. To apply for funding and support, you are required to fill in an online application here.
To be eligible for any support or funding through the Prince Trust, applicants must be 18-30 years old. Previously, funding amounts offered varied from grants of £1,500 to £3,000. Their website doesn’t currently list available funding amounts, so available sums remain unknown.
2. Apprenticeship Grant
Apprenticeship grants support employers in offering work and training to young individuals through the apprenticeship programme. They take 1-4 years to complete and bring together practical training with job-based learning. You can find more information and apply here. The quantity of funding awarded depends on your business area, and the criteria met, with finance for 16-18-year-olds subsidised at 100%. Generally, under the current scheme if you do not pay the apprenticeship levy (you’d only pay this if your payroll is over £3 million) then you’re eligible to cover 95% of the cost of training and assessing apprentices via government funding. The grant scheme also offers a £1,000 payment incentives for businesses taking on an apprentice aged 16-18 or 19-24 with an EHC plan.
3. Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme
After committing in recent years to turn Britain into an entirely fibre based country, the government launched the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to support the transition. Small local businesses or local communicates can use the scheme to partially, and in some cases entirely, offset the cost of installing a gigabit-capable internet line or connection.
Small businesses can get up to £2,500 in funding to cover the cost of having a Gigabit connection installed locally. You can apply as an individual business or as part of a group. Residents can also apply for up to £500 for the same purpose. Additional funding is available for premises in particularly hard-to-reach places. You can view the full criteria and terms for the grant here.
4. Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)
Though not strictly grant funding, we felt SEIS was highly relevant to this post. SEIS is a tax relief designed to encourage investors to invest in very early-stage startups and businesses in the UK. In essence, investors can claim eligible investment against their tax bill, significantly reducing capital risk. Many professional investors and business angels now require SEIS eligibility before they consider a company. You can apply for SEIS status with HMRC here.
SEIS relief allows investors to claim back up to 78% of their investment through tax relief in the first year, currently up to £100,000. Once companies achieve approved SEIS status, they can show this to investors to attract investment. Companies must then submit a compliance statement to HMRC to be able to issue a compliance certificate to investors, who can then use this certificate to claim their tax reliefs available under SEIS.
5. CRACK IT Challenges
The CRACK IT Challenges represent a fund to support challenge-based competitions, encouraging a partnership between educational organisations and SMEs to solve business and scientific challenges which deliver economic benefits. The challenges promote the rapid researching and commercialisation of new technologies.
The principal funder of the grants scheme is the NC3Rs, who develop the challenges alongside program sponsors. You can find the latest challenges on their website. You can apply for a single-phase challenge, a double stage challenge or even submit a challenge idea. Depending on the challenge contract, the funding award can be up to £1,000,000 over three years.