Government funding for business
Having recently attended a bid writing workshop run by the Solent LEP. I was pleasantly surprised by the scope and range for match funding that is available to start ups and more mature businesses. There are strict guidelines and you need to be diligent and precise, however, each region in the UK have a fully funded team of experts who can navigate you through the red tape. In fact the team that do this are actually called 'navigators' and their goal is to get you the money not to stop you!... may millions are available and its not always used up!!
So what's the challenge.. firstly you have to be involved in the following sectors:
Marine and Maritime
Life science and healthcare
Digital and creative services
Oil and gas
This is a pretty broad spectrum and covers a lot of ground except retail, food, franchises and other businesses. The aim is, of course, to build growth businesses that will grow employment and add value and diversity to the business sector. There are also special funds for the rural community and special areas and sectors.
The funding streams will all change on the day we leave Europe, of course, but in some ways this might simplify the funding and give the Government the opportunity to create a new way forward taking all the good bits and starting a fresh.
The range of funding is comprehensive but here is a snapshot of the Solent Growth Fund:
£2m Funding available up to April 2018 for businesses in the Solent area Funding can be a grant, loan, forward-funding or equity share basis
Up to 20% for Established Businesses Up to 40% for Start-Up Businesses
Providing funding options to SMEs • seeking to grow their business quickly through new processes/products/services, and/or developing new markets • that can demonstrate credible high growth potential • that are experiencing challenging trading conditions • that seek to leverage the significant research and innovation assets within the Solent LEP area
The Solent LEP team are able to give advice on the approach to winning the funding as it is a competition and funding must be for a project, something which has a start and finish and can be measured. You can't just use it to employ more people and smooth out cash flow for instance... and quite rightly... its not meant to help business compete against other local businesses.. you need to have a bigger vision.
This is where marketing strategy and business planning is essential as you will only get one chance to use your funding and Greenfield are good place to start with the big thinking and detailed business planning.
Here are some key resources to review: