Government funding for small businesses

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As the cornerstone of the UK economy, the government recognises the need to offer government funding to new businesses. Funding allows entrepreneurs to start up, create new jobs and add to UK plc.

Gaining government funding for new businesses

Getting government funding for new businesses is notoriously difficult and the government agencies involved make no secret of this. There are however excellent opportunities to gain funding from the government, in the form of grants or loans.


Finding the right government funding

With so many different agencies offering government funding for new businesses it can be hard to know. So, where to start looking for the one that suits your business needs. Each has clear goals and/or industries in mind and may have a local or a national focus. For this reason, it’s important to research thoroughly for the best opportunities around.

Themes for government funding of new businesses include:

Investment: Location dependent – these are regional or local grants that support small businesses starting up in economically disadvantaged areas, especially those with high rates of unemployment.

Research and development – there’s a wide range of schemes to encourage innovation and research and development (R&D) in high tech industries. From investigating an idea through to development, as well as tax incentives – you can find out more from the government’s science and innovation pages.

Energy and the environment – again generally regionally dependent. The EU makes provision for the government to offer to fund through environmental schemes as well as providing some environmental programmes directly.

Training – employment and training funding is available through some regional agencies and other economic development agencies. While typically government funds for training are aimed at training providers. As well as these the National Apprenticeship Service offers advice to employers on how to start an apprenticeship scheme. There are also grants available for recruitment costs and towards training if you take on a long-term unemployed candidate.

You can find out more about the government funding for new businesses from the business finance support finder.


Other government support for new businesses

The government also offers a number of support programmes offering other help for new businesses. These include:

GrowthAccelerator (GA) – GA helps small to medium size businesses that show high growth potential to access finance, to commercialise innovation, to develop leaders and to plan and deliver a high growth strategy.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) UKTI offers advice on export opportunities and capabilities, contacts in overseas markets and arranging overseas visits, as well as e-commerce, training and market research.

Technology Strategy Board (TSB) – As well as giving grant funding to support R&D and innovation for companies across the UK, the  TSB also helps to connect partners to promote knowledge sharing.

Mentors ME Mentors ME offers access to trained volunteer business mentors from SME businesses to boost local mentor networks.

Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) MAS supports manufacturing businesses by reviewing and providing subsidised consultancy support for things like business planning, manufacturing, innovation, raising capital and growing the supply chain.

Design Council (Designing Demand Programme) – Design Council is a national programme that offers bespoke design support and coaching to help small businesses use design to improve performance.

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – LEPs are voluntary partnerships between local authorities and businesses in England formed to help local economic development. Supplemented by Growth Hubs these are a single local access point for business support.


Starting your new business and government funding

Before applying for government funding for new businesses it’s important to register with Companies House with The Formations Company. Registering is quick, easy and cost-effective, taking as little as three hours to complete.

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