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Funding/Grants for SMEs


QualityZoneFunding/grants is an area of great interest to the private sector, and in particular to SME's. However, although there are funds available that businesses can apply for themselves, these are generally available from the DTI - Department for Trade and Industry or from your local business link/SBS service.

These funds include:

  • Smart Funds;

  • Development fund - to help SME's to develop products or services to a pre production stage (30% may upto £150,000);

  • Micro Projects - new products or process development funding - up o £10,000;

  • Small grants - up o £2,500 for activities to help organisations achieve best practices (technology driven);

  • Feasibility grants - funding to assess viability of new products and processes (up to £45,000);

  • Various other DTI grants include export grants, ecommerce awards, engineering grants, environmental initiatives grants.

Enterprise Grants

These are available in enterprise areas only, for fixed assets plant and machinery, site preparation, building costs and one off costs including patents - contact your local SBS/business link for details.

NESTA - National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts

Nesta funds exciting and original ideas for products, services, processes or techniques. Nesta helps people turn ideas into services or techniques with a social and or commercial benefit. Only for small businesses with less than 5 employees. Nesta expect a return on any commercial success, to support future projects. This could be in the form of intellectual property rights or royalties.

click here for further details

Various other funds are available including European funds i.e. Framework V, export initiatives, exchange programmes. Again, info available from SBS/business link/DTI websites.

Local Initiatives

These funds are funds that have been accessed by local regeneration partnerships/committees and/or service providers, from the central government funds. The following projects may be providing funding/grants to businesses, from funds they have received through a bidding process. In some cases the funds are being used to deliver services to small businesses (i.e. training/consultancy) and will not provide grants.

Single Regeneration Budget – SRB

SRB funds have been accessed by regeneration partnerships across the country. The partnership will have submitted a bid to the Detr, often worth millions, with targets relating to increasing the economy of the area i.e. reduction in unemployment, increase in new business starts ups etc. Grants are often available to help with business development in the area (particularly where new jobs are to be created). Funding may also be available to support transport issues, and social exclusion issues, particularly funding support for community and voluntary groups. The SRB funds/project continue for a max of 5 years. It will be necessary to assess who is responsible for the SRB fund in your area, and to assess what is available in the form of grants and services and to whom.

Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF)

This is a new government initiative - started in April this year. New "Local Strategic Partnerships" (LSPs) are currently being developed in NRF areas. The partnerships will include representatives from the council and other public service organisations, community and voluntary groups and local businesses (worth looking at the feasibility of joining the partnerships - or keeping in touch with someone on the partnership committee!) Funding has been allocated to LSPs regarding helping people into jobs, upskilling of individuals and promoting enterprise in deprived areas.

The funding for voluntary and community groups will be available in the form of a community chest, voluntary and community groups will be able to apply for up to £7,000 for revenue and capital projects.

Phoenix Fund

The Phoenix fund is available to organisations providing support services for business.
The Phoenix fund includes:
  • a development fund to promote innovative ways of supporting enterprise;

  • mentors to support businesses;

  • a challenge fund to resource community finance initiatives (CFI's);

  • loan guarantees to encourage commercial and charitable lending to CFI's.

click here for further details

This and other funds have been/are being accessed by public and private organisations.

Contact your local business link for further information.

Regional Development Agency (RDA's)

Various sources of funding will be available from the RDAs (there is an RDA in every region), however, all development agencies are currently undergoing changes in staff as well as funding streams. Generally the RDA has funding for several economic regeneration initiatives. The RDA's also call for bids from service providers and business sector cluster groups for skills development fund and work based learning. The regional development agency websites are listed on the DTI sites.

Government Offices

The government offices are responsible for objective 2 and 3 funds amongst others. Again many organisations have accessed objective 2 and 3 funds to provide grants to support businesses. Contact your local government office (one in every region) to access information on who has accessed the funds and the services they are offering.

EU Objective 1, 2 and 3 funds

These funds are available usually for partnership projects, delivering training/regeneration initiatives. Your local college, government office, business link should be able to tell you what projects are running in your area.

Trust Funds/Lottery Funds

There are numerous lottery/trust funds available which can only be accessed by companies who are not for profit, and set up for charitable purposes. This includes social enterprises.


There are numerous initiatives taking place in your area, from which you may be able to access services and/or grants. Although time consuming, it is worthwhile analysing who has the funds, this way you may access funding/subsidised services/training without having to bid for the funds yourselves.

Funding Finders

If you would like help to identify potential funds for your company, Funding Finders is a unique communication tool, linking together funding bodies with government/independent training providers, SME's, individuals, community groups and one of its main facilities is to give up to date information on:
  • What current funds are available;

  • To whom and;

  • For what purpose.

click here for further details


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