Grant funding enables businesses to push forward with their ideas for innovation, allowing their concepts to come to life and facilitating the development of new products and services that they may not have been able to otherwise afford.
UK grant funding is available from many funding bodies, across a variety of industry sectors, but the application process can be tricky and time-consuming.
In this Q&A, Chris Parkhurst, Regional Development Director – Grants, at innovation funding specialist Catax, answers some commonly-asked questions related to applying for grant funding.
Essentially, a grant will pay a percentage of the total costs associated with a project, so things like salaries, materials and sub-contractors. Most national funding grants will pay up to 70% of the total cost associated depending on the size of company and the grants are paid to you generally quarterly in arrears.
Great – first off, you will need to do some research on any suitable grants that your innovative idea may fall under. You can find the latest grant competitions on the UK grant funding body websites, such as Innovate UK, as well as on Catax’s grant services page. We proactively notify clients when a relevant funding call is announced and often have advanced notification ourselves. As many can have short deadlines, it’s important to act quickly so as not to miss an opportunity. Once you’ve found a grant that you believe you fit the criteria for, or one of our grant funding experts has highlighted to you one that is suitable to apply for, the next step is to collate all the information required to write your application. This is the difficult part!
Every innovation grant funding call will have an eligibility criteria that a business will need to match to qualify. Furthermore, your proposal must evidence and clearly demonstrate that your project supports the aim and aligns with the scope of the competition, for example, to increase the development of new ideas or products, or address a need or challenge within a particular industry. Writing a grant funding application can be complex and with the strict criteria, consulting with a professional and experienced grant writer can really help to make your application stand out and be as robust as possible.
As above, you’ll need to understand and digest exactly what each call is looking for, the budgets involved, and whether it fits with what you want to do as a business.
Firstly, how do you know there aren’t any that are suitable for your business? In my experience, many businesses miss out on grant funding due to a lack of understanding, so seeking expert advice can really help with this. And secondly – absolutely! We call it being ‘grant ready’, which basically means getting your ducks in a row and ready to get the ball rolling when the right opportunity arises. With a lot of grant funding having a short lead time, being engaged with your project, refining the idea, and potentially having a partner plan, is a great starting point. Think about estimating the length of time your project will take and the costs involved, as well as what the USP is of your innovative idea and what the future may hold. Starting to consider IP and patent, too, at this stage will stand you in good stead.
The whole process will take approximately three to six months, from application to finding out whether you’ve won or not.
No, it’s not taxable.
Yes – it is possible to claim R&D tax credits on a grant-funded project.
Traditionally, most UK-funded grant projects have been considered ‘state-aid’ and, as the SME R&D tax scheme was also state-aid, you could not claim both for the same project. However, the matched portion of the grant project could be claimed under the RDEC (large company) R&D tax scheme.
For any R&D work or projects outside of the grant project, you can still claim R&D tax credits at your normal qualifying rate (SME/RDEC).
With the recently announced changes to the R&D tax credit scheme, the impact of Brexit, and the incoming UK Subsidy Control Act 2022 from January 2023, each case must be carefully considered on an individual basis. Luckily, at Catax we have a team of experts who understand the interplay between the schemes and can help you maximise both your grant and R&D tax claims.