If you have started or you are in the early stages of setting up a new business, then no doubt one of your major concerns will be money and where you can get it from to maximise your business prospects.
Amazingly, there are hundreds of funding opportunities available to new businesses in the UK, which can be a great way to assist with start-up costs, research, product prototype development or expert advice on how to improve business growth. Unfortunately the world of funding can be daunting when you do not know what you are looking for and many schemes have limited availability and eligibility so you may find you miss the boat with some of them.
In order to help you we have put together a list of the top five grants currently available to new start-ups, so hopefully you will find the right one that suits your business model.
The Growth Vouchers programme is perfect for those companies who are seeking professional business advice. The scheme is designed to locate and pay for strategic guidance from business experts, which can help grow your business in sales, profits, skills and confidence.
Some businesses will be randomly awarded a voucher up to £2,000 to cover half the cost of the advisory service provided. If you are lucky enough to be allocated a Growth Voucher then they are available to use on one of these areas:
- Cash flow management and raising capital
- Management and Leadership skills
- Staff recruitment and development
- Customer growth, retention and marketing
- Effective use of digital technology
The downside to the Growth Vouchers scheme is that the selection process is random, so it isn’t a guaranteed grant, but don’t let that put you off as the benefits could be very enterprising.
Horizon 2020 UK
Horizon 2020 is the largest EU Research and Innovation programme with an incredible €79 billion available in funding. The scheme is offering businesses and researchers backing to bring innovative ideas into the private and public sectors with more efficiency and to ensure that Europe is producing world-class science and innovation for the future.
If you have an innovative idea or research project that focuses on outstanding science, industrial leadership or tackling societal challenges then the Horizon 2020 grants could be a great place for you to secure finance, networks or partnerships for innovation to make your concept a reality.
The Horizon 2020 UK programme is open to everyone and unlike previous schemes, the process is a lot simpler, with less red tape, allowing the applicants to focus on the most important aspects of their projects. This new structure means that new projects are quicker to come into fruition and achieve faster results.
Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)
The SBRI programme offers early-stage, small and medium sized businesses the opportunity for funding to develop and demonstrate new technologies to public bodies acting as the lead consumer. The new business idea should identify and solve a specific problem within the public sector.
Initially the idea can be granted the investment of £50,000 to £100,000, which will fund the development of your product or service and the testing process too. If the concept is a success there is a further opportunity to win a contract of up to £1 million to continue development.
The SBRI schemes run continuously, but each competition has a different theme, opening dates and deadlines, so keep an eye out for which programmes would be most appropriate for your business concept.
Innovate UK SMART Grants
Research and Development grants are a big deal at the moment, and there is plenty of money available to those looking to start a new business in science, engineering or technology.
Innovate UK is offering SMART grants to small and medium start-ups in these niches to help with the research and development of new ideas. Companies can be granted funding from £25,000-£250,000 to run their Research & Development project.
Naturally grant amounts vary depending on each individual case, however there is the potential to receive funding for up to 60% of your project costs to demonstrate the idea can work and that there is a viable market. There is also the possibility for getting funding up to 45% to develop a prototype, but you need to bear in mind that the rest of the funding must be provided by yourself.
Corporation Tax: The Patent Box
The Patent Box allows a 10% reduction in Corporation Tax for companies who deal with patented inventions. It has been introduced to encourage innovative businesses to invest in the UK and improve the competitiveness in the high-tech company marketplace.
If your company makes a profit from patented inventions and innovations then you will be pleased to know you could be eligible for Corporation Tax reliefs too. Although this isn’t typically a grant, the Patent Box will help your company to save money and reallocate it elsewhere in the business.
The Patent Box means a company can apply the lower rate of Corporation tax on profits earned after April 1st 2013 on any patented inventions. The company must also own or exclusively licence-in the patents and have carried out the qualifying development on them too.
Naturally not all of your company profit may come from patented inventions, so in order to qualify for tax reduction it must come from one of the following:
- selling patented products – that is sales of the patented product or products incorporating the patented invention or bespoke spare parts
- licensing out patent rights
- selling patented rights
- infringement income
- damages, insurance or other compensation related to patent rights
Also if a company uses a manufacturing process that is patented or provides a service that uses a patented tool they could also benefit from the Patent Box.
Quite often grants are overlooked by new businesses due to lack of awareness and the assumption that a business will not be eligible. With opportunities cropping up every day, for every type of business it is imperative to take the initiative and keep a close eye on what funding could be available to help your business grow.