Business Grants in the UK - Complete Guide

Caroline Wire

If you’re a UK entrepreneur, you might be looking for business grants in the UK to help you start your company, expand overseas or reach the next milestone in your company's growth. This guide takes a look at what grants are available for small businesses in the UK, both from the government, and government backed agencies, and private organisations.

Read on as we explore new business grants (UK) - and highlight Wise Business as the ideal option to manage your company finance at home and abroad, with mid-market exchange rates, and low, transparent fees1.

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Table of contents

Introduction to business grants

A business grant is a form of business finance in which you’re given funds - often for a specific stated cost or need - and do not need to pay the money back2. There are a range of business grants available in the UK for different business sectors and for varying types of businesses at different stages of growth. These are offered by the UK government, and by private organisations, to encourage British businesses to flourish.

Generally you’ll find that UK business grants have specific stated niches - such as green business grants for UK companies working in climate or environmental protection, creative business grants for UK entrepreneurs, or options for underrepresented groups, such as business grants for black women in the UK, who may otherwise struggle to get finance.

Why UK business grants are useful

Small business grants are useful primarily as a source of finance - which you don’t need to repay or pay interest on. However, UK business grants can also offer much more including help and advice from professionals, mentoring programs and business development services to help you expand.

Finding a UK business grant to suit your situation isn’t always straightforward - but there are lots of options out there, and the reward makes it well worth investing a bit of time in searching for options which might apply. This guide walks through a few you might want to consider.

What types of grant are available for small businesses in the UK?

There are hundreds of small business grants in the UK for startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Many grants are aimed at specific types of business, geographical area, demographic or types of business, including overseas export grants. Grants might be offered by the national or local government wherever in the UK you’re based - or by a sector body or private organisation. There are some great tools online to find UK business finance and grants3 - and we’ve rounded up a few more resources and ideas in more detail below.

Direct grants

If you qualify for a UK government business grant there’s a good chance it’ll be issued in the form of a direct grant - money you can put towards an agreed cost, such as starting your business, expanding overseas or buying new equipment. There are hundreds of government grants out there, making it well worth researching online to see if any might be appropriate for your specific needs4.

Innovation Business Grant Opportunities

You’ll find quite a lot of business grants for UK start ups and established companies which are working in innovation, research and development. These grants tend to be split by industry - so you can apply for an innovative medicine grant5 if you’re in the healthcare sector for example, or an emerging technology grant6 if you’re in specific technology sectors. Do some research based on your company type and sector to see what’s available to suit your needs.

Resource and Training Grants

Both government and local authorities, and private companies and organisations, offer specific resource and training grants - often aimed at a niche group or need, such as business startup grants for over 30s in the UK, or business grants for veterans in the UK to help with reintegration in civilian life. Look out for UK business grants which may be of help, both online and through word of mouth.

Tax Relief

It’s worth talking to your accountant to see if any government tax relief schemes may apply to you, based on your location and business type. As an example, the UK government offers tax relief to some businesses in R&D in science and technology7.

Grants for Young Entrepreneurs

Young entrepreneurs aged 16 to 30 can get specific support and funding through organisations like the Prince’s Trust8. This can support training and development in particular, to help younger business owners get a foot on the ladder. Another alternative is to look at apprenticeships, which are administered by local governments across the UK nations.

Regional grants for small businesses

At the 2021 budget and spending review, there was a 1.6 billion GBP commitment made to regional funding programmes across the UK nations and regions9. This has resulted in the promotion of regional and national investment funds, and UK growth hubs10 which are designed to help UK businesses connect with the practical and financial support they need to grow. Regional grants are - as the name suggests - based on your location, but there are lots of great resources to filter and search the options available over on the British Business Bank website11. You can also find your local Growth Hub - from any of the 38 locations in the UK - to get help there.

What to consider before applying for a UK business grant

UK business grants are often competitive, so preparing your application carefully is essential. Before you decide to apply for a UK business grant, be clear on the objectives of the grant scheme and why your company or situation would make you eligible - this can avoid wasted time if you apply and discover you’re rejected due to missing the eligibility criteria.

As part of your application you need to clearly demonstrate how the money will be used if you’re successful, so the assessors can see how the grant will make a measurable difference. You may need to match the funding yourself - so have a plan in place for this if it’s a criteria of the grant you’ve selected. It makes sense for your own planning, and to provide clarity for the assessors, to build the funding application into your business plan to show how it’s an integrated part of your growth strategy.

Finally, don’t wait until the deadline to submit your business grant application - getting everything prepared in advance means you can get your application in and then concentrate on growing your company.

Manage your business finances with Wise Business

Get on top of your company finances so you can focus on growth - with Wise Business for low cost, flexible solutions to manage your money in pounds and 40+ other currencies.

Open a Wise Business account online or in the Wise app to hold and exchange dozens of currencies including GBP, EUR, USD and more, with the mid-market exchange rate and low fees1. Accounts offer local account details for receiving major currencies like GBP, EUR and USD, linked debit and expense cards, multi-user access, batch payments, and cloud accounting integrations - all with no ongoing fees to pay and no minimum balance requirement.

Check out how one business is making the most of Wise Business in this Open Collective case study.

Ready to learn more about how to open a Wise business account in the UK? Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Download the Wise app or head to the Wise desktop site
  2. Tap Register and follow the prompts to apply for a business account
  3. Add your personal and contact information
  4. Upload the documents needed which are detailed online and in this Wise Business account requirements guide
  5. Pay the one time fee to register your account and get a linked payment card if you need one
  6. Once your account is verified you can start transacting - your account will be live in the Wise app, your physical card will be posted to you, and you can get a digital card right away for mobile spending

A UK business grant could be exactly what you need to give your business a boost. Use this guide to start your research - and take a look at Wise Business for better ways to manage your money across currencies, as your company grows.

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Sources used in this article

  1. Pricing/fees: Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information
  2. British Business Bank - what are business grants?
  3. UK government - business finance search tool
  4. British Business Bank - direct grants for startups
  5. Innovative medicine grants
  6. Emerging technologies grants
  7. UK government - R&D tax credits
  8. Prince’s Trust
  9. British Business Bank - regional and national investment funds
  10. UK growth hubs
  11. British Business Bank - regional support

Sources last checked on Apr 9, 2024.

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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