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Grants and Incentives: Overlooked Financial Opportunities for Start-ups

budgeting founders fundraise start-ups & fast growth businesses treasury Nov 24, 2023

For start-ups extending your cashflow runway where possible is critical.  So identifying and leveraging financial opportunities is crucial.

While the UK R&D tax credit has been a popular choice, its evolving rules have made it less advantageous than before.  The most recent update in the Autumn Budget 2023 is welcoming, however, the update earlier in 2023 was not, cutting rebates significantly.

In this shifting financial climate, exploring grants and small loans becomes not just an alternative, but a necessity for small business start-ups.

The Shift from R&D Tax Credits to Grants: The R&D tax credit scheme in the UK, once a go-to for start-ups seeking financial relief, is undergoing changes. As the incentives become less favourable, small business grants and loans emerge as crucial support mechanisms. Start-ups and scale-ups need to adapt their financial strategies to include these often-overlooked resources.

Government Grants and Loans: The UK government has put forth various funding schemes to bolster small business start-ups. Schemes like the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) provide vital support. Additionally, very specific spend, such as the Tradeshow Access Programme can be a pivotal resource for businesses aiming to expand their reach.

Regional Grants and Loans: UK startups can also benefit from regional grants and loans tailored to specific areas. Whether it's the East and Southeast Midlands or the North of England, these regional-specific financial supports play a significant role in the growth of small businesses.

This is particularly useful when looking for small loans.  In the UK, if you're outside London - take a look at regional financial support, rather than larger banks.

Sector-Specific Grants: Startups in niche sectors can take advantage of specialised grants. These are designed to promote collaborative research and development, innovation, and projects with social impact. Such business grants can be instrumental in supporting startups focused on specific industries or community projects. 

A popular grant such as the Innovate UK smart grant - helping start-ups with their Tech spend by supporting the businesses innovation.  This grant is the most akin to the R&D credits scheme.

Across the EU (which UK businesses can still access post Brexit) is the EIC Accelerator Grants - also assisting with Tech innovation.

Navigating the financial landscape as a startup in the UK requires an understanding of the diverse funding options available. From small business grants to specialised loans, these resources are vital for providing the necessary support at various stages of business development. As the landscape of incentives like the R&D tax credit evolves, startups must adapt by exploring these varied funding opportunities to ensure their continued growth and success.


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