This is a guest post from Rikke Nagell-Kleven, Innovation Consultant at Hethel Innovation.
Keeping up with the latest grant funding opportunities and their application processes can be difficult for business owners as time and resources often are limited, and things change quickly.
We want to highlight a couple of local opportunities currently open for applications and support available to you to submit funding bids, as well as give a couple of tips for how to approach a funding application process.
Latest Grant Funding Opportunities
The Business Builder Programme is available to South Norfolk and Broadland-based businesses and offers advice and training to support business growth. Different support is available through the programme, depending on which district your business is based in.
However, the Rural Business Builder Capital Grant programme is available for both districts and has funding available to support businesses with capital expenditure (spending on lasting assets such as buildings or equipment). Through this programme, businesses can submit an expression of interest to be considered for 50% funding towards a project, up to a maximum of £25k (subject to the availability of funds).
To find out what other support is available through the Business Builder Programme, check out their webpage for more details. The Business Builder Programme project is part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and, in the case of the Rural Business Builder Capital Grant, through the Rural England Prosperity Fund.
Another excellent opportunity for local businesses is the Supply Chain Skills Development Fund. This programme provides funds to help businesses develop and upskill their workforce and can fund 50% of the training costs for your business.
The training course can be both accredited or non-accredited and can be in anything that is required to help your business grow. The funding is available to businesses of all sizes who operate in Norfolk and Suffolk, and a complete list of eligible sectors can be found on their website.
The programme is funded by the European Social Fund and managed by Suffolk County Council in partnership with Norfolk County Council. The fund closes for applications in November 2023, so be quick on this one if you have a course in mind that you would like funding for!
The Business Transition to Net Zero Grant is available through the New Anglia Growth Hub and is aimed at businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk with ambitions to reduce their carbon footprint and increase productivity.
Grants of between £25k and £100k are available, with a maximum intervention rate of 20% of the development cost. The scheme will fund capital developments, and eligible schemes will include those which improve productivity for the business and supply chain, make use of clean or renewable energy production and the recycling of goods and materials. You can find the full eligibility criteria on their website.
Anglia Capital Group Angels supports companies from across East Anglia that have an innovative, early-stage business and that meets their criteria. The group currently has 88 members and has invested £7 million across 54 different projects. To find out more about this opportunity and apply to pitch for the group, you can register your business here.
There are continuously several opportunities available through Innovate UK, which is the UK’s national innovation agency that supports business-led innovation in all sectors, technologies and UK regions. There are currently 43 opportunities listed on their website, with opportunities in a diverse range of sectors. See their funding finder page.
A Few Tips on How to Approach a Grant Funding Application
A good rule to follow when you have decided to apply for funding to support your business or a project is to select a funding call that suits your project rather than creating a project to fit in with a specific funding call. This can increase your chances in an already competitive poll of applications and ensure that you do not spend your valuable time applying for an unsuitable programme.
Make sure that you have enough resources and time available before starting your application. From experience, writing a funding bid always takes longer than initially expected. It can therefore be useful to make a plan for how you are going to write the application and meet the deadline.
It could also be a good idea to include internal deadlines for sections to be completed as well as regular check-ins, perhaps with someone outside the team, for extra motivation to finish what you said you would achieve. To save time, it will also help to have your project plan, finances and potential partners ready as early as possible.
Be specific about what you want to achieve and how your solution is different from your competitors. Provide evidence for why your solution is needed, focus on the priorities of the funding provider, what impact and value your innovation will make and who it will benefit. To be able to back up these arguments, it is also essential to provide enough relevant data to validate your statements. Finally, get someone else to review your application and do final checks before submitting it!
Funding Support Available Locally
When you have identified a funding call that suits you and you want to apply, there are several support opportunities available locally. One of these programmes is the Innovation Grant Mentoring Project. Norfolk County Council, Suffolk County Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership run the project, and to be eligible, businesses must be based in Norfolk or Suffolk. The project offers mentoring and bid writing support to help businesses secure the funding needed to develop their project or ideas.
The project team will explore your business aims and ambitions before matching you with mentors or bid writing coaches. They will then help you to develop your ideas and reach the stage where you are ready to apply for innovation funding. Up to 18 hours of support is available, and you can read more about the project here.
If you are interested in applying for an Innovate UK call, Innovate UK EDGE is running Innovation Funding Clinics, where you can learn more about the support available to businesses to help you grow and scale. Innovate UK EDGE provides fully funded bespoke support to high-growth, innovative SMEs. To find the next one-to-one clinic at Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library as a part of what the Business and Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC) Norfolk offers, you can visit their website and also read more about what support BIPC can provide local businesses.
Hethel Innovation also provides mentoring sessions to support funding applications, focused workshops to work on bid preparations or help with writing funding bids. Get in touch with us at email@example.com if you are interested in talking to us about this opportunity.