Business Basics Fund – 'Round 3' - PKF Francis Clark
skip to Main Content
Merry Christmas! Our offices will be closed from 1pm on Christmas Eve, reopening on Tuesday 4 January.

Business Basics Fund – ‘Round 3’

One of my colleagues from the IT team posted an article on the firm’s intranet on the topic of a “£2m government funding pot launched for SME accountancy & HR tech”. At which point, I was intrigued to see how applicable it may to be our client base. The conclusion I reached was not generally applicable based on my reading to scope of projects being sought and the previous applicants – but please read on..

What is the Business Basics Fund?

The Business Basics Fund, a series of open competitions, is the main element of the Business Basics Programme. The fund aims to build evidence on how to encourage SMEs to adopt productivity boosting technology and/or management practices. It is administered by Innovate UK, on behalf of BEIS.  The results (successful) applicants from ‘Rounds 1 and 2’ can be found here.

‘Round 3’ – overview

The competition launched last month was ‘Round 3’.  This round is looking to fund trials only, not proof of concept projects, specifically to fund trials which test different approaches to encouraging SMEs to adopt existing technologies that are associated with productivity improvements.

Your proposal must focus on technologies which support business and administrative functions, such as payment practices, accountancy and human resources. Examples of the types of technologies in scope include one or more of the following:

  • accountancy software
  • e-commerce transactions
  • payment technologies, such as e-invoicing
  • cloud based computing
  • customer relationship management (CRM) software
  • supply chain management (SCM) software
  • HR management systems (HRM) software
  • enterprise resource planning (ERP) software (which can include CRM, SCM, HRM, finance, purchasing and so on)

Your proposal must demonstrate:

  • how your approach intends encourage more SMEs to use the technologies
  • that your project has potential to be effectively scaled
  • that your project is innovative and will add to the evidence base


  • all project work must be carried out in England
  • all selected projects must start on or shortly after 1 June 2020
  • grant funding of up to £400,000 per project is available
  • you must have an independent evaluation partner
  • the guidance and links to the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) provide further information, details of events and webinars, and help on evaluation and finding partners

‘Round 3’- More details

There appears to be two strands to the competitions, further details are below and full details can be found via the links:

Business Basics 3: SME technology use (non-business led trials)

Business Basics 3: SME technology use (business led trials)

Extracts below:


Non-business led Business led
Lead organisation A UK registered public sector organisation, university or research and technology organisation (RTO), charity or not for profit company UK based business of any size
Specific themes They welcome proposals that focus one or more of the following:

  • adoption of technologies to tackle late payments
  • improving awareness of relevant technologies
  • employee engagement to build firms’ confidence of how technology can be applied in their business, such as digital skills
  • management practices as enablers in encouraging technology adoption
  • facilitation of advice and ways to encourage adoption through trusted advisors, supply chains, informal peer-to-peer networks and so on
  • comparison of lower cost interventions can deliver similar benefits to more intensive support, particularly current business support activities
  • exploring issues facing firms with specific characteristics, such as family run firms
Projects they will not fund They will not fund projects that:

  • focus on developing new technology or software
  • do not focus on areas that are applicable to the majority of SMEs
  • do not address the target audience of mid to low productivity SMEs
  • do not generate robust evidence
  • do not align with the Business Basics Fund objectives
Grant intervention rates Depend on type and size of organisation applying and on type of project
  • submit expressions of interest by noon on Wednesday 4 December 2019
  • shortlisted bidders will be asked to submit a full application by 19 February 2020


If you have questions about the Fund or Programme, please contact [email protected] or [email protected] in the BEIS Business Basics team.

By Andrew James

Back To Top