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Navigating the (new) grant landscape – a guide

Over the years the grants team at PKF Francis Clark has carried out a large number of successful grant searches and assisted many clients through the application process.

In this blog I review the changing grant funding landscape; give some tips for those carrying out their own desktop research and give an indication of the role that I and others at PKF Francis Clark can play on the road to making a successful grant application.

A trip down memory lane to present day

A decade or so ago (yes I am older than I look) it was easy to keep on top of the schemes that were of relevance to our clients, most notably Grant for Business Investment (GBI) or its predecessors. These schemes would remain open for a number of years and their key criteria (and contacts at the scheme administrators) were well known to us.

Following the closure of GBI the environment changed, firstly with a ‘revolving door’ of grant schemes; schemes that would open for applications or expressions of interest for just a short window of time.  These have been harder to plan for as it requires some good fortune as to whether a project happens to fall into a period when there is a relevant grant scheme open.

Now, the evolution of grant schemes appears to have moved two steps further with:

  1. An increased level of regional disparity in the grant programmes available. Historically there would have been geographical disparity in the intervention rates for example, but now we are seeing schemes operational in only a few regions (see for example Innovation Funding update blog from my colleague).
  2. The LEPs, and their Growth Hubs, becoming the conduit for allocation of UK Government funding.

Navigating this new world of grants

My top tips for desktop research into available grant funding are:

  1. Jot down the essence of the project you are seeking grant funding for. For example what are the project:
    • Costs
    • Timetable
    • Deliverables to your business (increased turnover, increased productivity, additional employment etc.)
    • Deliverables to the wider community (environmental and wider social and economic benefits)
  2. If your project is related to innovation, check out Innovate UK’s open grant competitions.
  3. Work out what geographic area your business is in and:
    • Identify the appropriate LEP website and use that as a research tool
    • The LEP website should also make reference to the relevant Growth Hub their primary purpose is to support business and they should have access to a database of support packages available
    • Depending upon the size of the business, you can also research any support packages available from the appropriate local authority
    • Google search on ‘grants in [geographic area]’ and maybe by sector as well
    • Try websites such as either Business Finance Support  or  Scale Up Institute and our blogs
    • If your project is of sufficient size and scope (specifically a good fit with your LEP’s strategic objectives) then I would also consider approaching the LEP direct – see blog

 PKF Francis Clark

Whilst we can search for grant funding I feel that in this new world we are better placed to have discussions with clients post their own research (as they may decide to change their project to ‘chase the grant’) and to initially:

  1. Sense check their views on eligibility and chances of success; and
  2. Assist, where assistance is required, in shaping their initial approach to a potential source of grant funding.

If you have any questions on the above please do not hesitate to contact me, my colleague Richard Wadman, or your usual point of contact here at PKF Francis Clark.

Also, I would suggest you keep an eye on our blog for news of grant schemes launching (and other funding related articles). We are hosting a couple of events on 3 & 6 November as part of Cornwall Business Week on the finance landscape moving into 2021 and funding and the crowd. Each event is free to attend and to book your place, please follow this link Conversations over Coffee

FEATURING: David Armstrong
Dave started working in corporate finance with a ‘Big 4’ firm in 1993, focusing on helping businesses secure the optimal amount of grant funding towards… read more
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