How to access grant support to help innovation move your business forward

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By John King, Business Funding Expert, North East Business Support Manager and Innovation Recovery Grant Manager at NBSL.

As grant schemes across the North East continue to emerge to help businesses recover from the impact of COVID, we’ve looked at a few basic principles to make your application to the North of Tyne Innovation Grant as strong as possible.

Where would you start?

Keep it simple and start with the basics. Create a plan on how you intend to grow the business, what/where are your markets; what are your overheads and costs and how do you intend to cover them… and try to think about how this impacts on the business.

When you’re looking for funding support, most people start within their own networks. Approaching peers and trusted intermediaries like your accountant is a sensible place to start.  In fact, the majority of people accessing the North of Tyne Innovation Recovery Grant have been referred to us by a contact. The North East Growth Hub provides a great Finance and Funding tool that could help you identify potential support options –

If you’re thinking of implementing new processes or systems to increase your business productivity or indeed looking to launch new products to the market – it means you’re looking at innovative business growth – all of which could attract funding.

Lots of businesses miss out on funding opportunities as they don’t think their growth plans are appropriate, innovative or think they don’t have the time. This can be quite the opposite and the biggest barrier to achieving funding is a simple change in mindset.

With the latest fund now available in the North of Tyne area specifically geared towards innovation – a wide range of projects could be considered, as long as it has an impact.

What would you do?

Make sure that you’re very clear on what your business’ objectives and expectations are.

Have a clear plan for what you are wanting help with, how long it will take to complete and how much it is going to cost. Some schemes will ask for 3 quotes to demonstrate value for money.

You will frequently see the word ‘innovation’ often used in grant fund programmes – a disarming word but did you know that innovation is really just about solving problems and creating value in new ways, which can be done in any business of any size in any sector?  If you’re solving a problem in the business that is attracting a cost – or indeed bringing a new product to market, you may find that you could attract a grant of up to 50% of the project cost dependent on project size. Take a look at our section – what is innovation – we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised :

Why would you need grant funding support?

You might not, but that shouldn’t stop you exploring what options are out there.  Grant funding aims to de-risk the decision to invest. The idea being that this encourages more businesses to take the plunge and push forward with growth plans.

How do you do it?

Our approach to grant funding is all about making it as easy as possible for the client.

Business owners want to spend as little time as possible form-filling, so we’ve designed a process that includes a simple downloadable application for you to work on before you submit with an advisor on hand to make your process as smooth as possible.

Take time and answer ALL the questions on the application form. They are there to help check your eligibility for the fund and to understand the likely impact of the project on your business. Missing out information will delay your application. Before you apply, have you….

Consider the above a checklist – It could speed your application process up.

Don’t forget to ask questions – especially if you don’t understand anything and keep to application deadlines – your funding may depend on it and especially with any COVID related grant funding.

Managing your project to help you get the best from your funding

Allow plenty of time to apply before you want start your project. The larger the grant you are seeking, the longer it is likely to take to get a decision.

Do not start any work or pay anyone until you have signed a contract for your project.  If for any reason there is a delay in getting the work done and you are not going to complete within the timescales in your contract, contact your grant body to discuss any potential extension that they could offer. Do not leave it until the last week of your contract – you could end up losing the funding.

Best advice

Do your research – if you’re looking for grant funding, make sure to investigate all of the support that might be available. There are more support options than most people realise and it doesn’t cost anything to find out what’s available.

Innovation is key to business growth and success.  If you’ve identified a way of solving a problem in your business or are developing a product that could help grow your business – it’s likely that your solution could attract funding.

If you’re working on an innovative project or looking to the future and are based in Newcastle, Northumberland or North Tyneside, then take a look at the North of Tyne Innovation Recovery Grant which could contribute 50% of grant funding towards innovative projects totalling – a perfect opportunity to get your growth plan off the ground.