'Grants' are a type of funding provided by the government, local councils and some private organisations.
You don't normally have to repay them. But you might have to meet some terms, for example a job creation target or deadline.
Grants are usually available to help ideas or businesses that will create jobs or develop new products, services or markets.
What grants are available for
Grants are normally available to do specific things, for example to develop a new product.
You'll need to apply for a grant before your project has started.
Grants should only be used as an additional source of funding – not to fund an entire project.
The grants available to help your idea or business will depend on:
- the kind of idea or business you have — sometimes called your business 'sector'
- the potential of your idea or size of your business
- what you intend to spend the grant on
- where your business is based
How grants are paid
Most grants are paid 'retrospectively'. This means you'll need to pay out money upfront and reclaim the grant money later.
Some grants might pay you a percentage of the money up front and others will have terms you'll be expected to meet, for example a job creation target or deadline.
Applying for a grant
Each grant will have a different application process, although there will be common things you'll need to show, like how the grant will cover shortfall in funding and what other efforts you've made to raise funding.
Grants available in Scotland
The main grant funding available in Scotland is to help ideas or businesses that:
- will bring social or economic benefits, for example creating jobs
- are collaborative projects leading to new technology or ideas
- for research and development
Some examples of the grants available include:
1. Regional Selective Assistance grants
Regional Selective Assistance grants are available to help projects that will create or protect jobs in Scotland.
Find more information and apply for Regional Selective Assistance grants on the Scottish Enterprise website.
2. Research and development grants
Research and development grants are given out by both Scottish Enterprise and Innovate UK.
They help projects that will lead to innovative new products and services.
Find more information and apply on:
3. SMART: Scotland grants
SMART: Scotland grants are available to help you prove your idea, product or service will work.
Find more information and apply for SMART: Scotland grants on the Scottish Enterprise website.
4. Horizon 2020
Horizon 2020 grants are given out by the European Union.
These grants are normally given to groups of individuals, businesses and organisations who are working collaboratively on a project.
The group will also usually need to include a university, college or another academic institute.
Horizon 2020 grants are normally made available as part of a specific call out for a particular business sector.
You can find more information on the European Commission website.
5. Make it to Market grant
A Make it to Market grant can help you get your products or services ready to be exported internationally.
It can be used for a range of activities that will help you get ready to export. These should be new activities (not something you're already working on), and your product or service must be close to market
Find more information and apply for a Make it to Market grant on the Scottish Enterprise website.
6. Innovate UK grants
Innovate UK run competitions for grants that target specific areas they're looking to help develop.
These grants are usually given to technology businesses working in a specific business sector.
You can find more information on GOV.UK.
Alternatives to grant funding
You might want to consider other ways of funding your idea or business, like:
- using unpaid invoices to raise cash (invoice finance)
- borrowing money against something you own or plan to buy (asset finance)
- selling shares (equity finance)
- crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending