Going global with your startup is not without its risks. Here we look at where you can find a range of grants and funding schemes to help take your business to the next level.
- Disruptive R&D innovators with a global agenda often look to Horizon 2020.
- Startups focussed on R&D can apply for up to £25 million through the Innovate UK Smart Grants scheme.
- Local councils often have grants aimed at helping startups go global.
Global expansion presents huge opportunities for startups to sell their products and services in a broader market. One of the big barriers to entry is having the right funding in place.
In this article we discuss the various grants, schemes and support mechanisms in place to help you reach the far-flung corners of the globe.
Horizon 2020 is the largest European funding programme for research and innovation. With a successful application founders can access the fund to bolster their R&D, break into new markets or segments, gain insight on customer experience and join forces with like-minded businesses around the world. You must form a consortium with either a registered business, charity, partnership or research organisation. You can get up to 70% of your project’s direct costs if you are a registered business.
International collaboration is a key aim of the programme, so successful participants can expect support in global expansion and networking. Horizon 2020 bids range from £100k to more than £10 million. The scheme launched in January 2014 and is due to conclude at the end of the year, but there is still time to apply. A successor programme called Horizon Europe will run from Jan 2021 till Dec 2027.
To apply for funding you need to:
- Find a live funding call.
- Find partners to form a consortium.
- Register on the European Commission Participant Portal.
- Read the online manual, with instructions on preparing your proposal.
- And submit the proposal, via the portal, by the stated deadline.
Innovate UK Smart Grants
The Innovate UK Smart Grants scheme offers UK registered organisations the chance to apply for a share of up to £25 million to deliver disruptive R&D innovations. The scheme gives preference to applications that demonstrate realistic, significant potential for global markets. Applications can come from any area of technology—ranging from creative industries to science and engineering. But applicants must be confident that they can make a significant contribution to a pressing societal, environmental and economic challenge. Sound, practical financial plans and timelines are also a requirement for the project.
Your application must also include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise as either the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner. The project must start no later than 1 May 2021 and end no later than 31 May 2024.
Your project must follow specific rules for the duration of the project.
- Projects with durations between 6 to 18 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000. They can be single or collaborative projects.
- Project durations between 19 to 36 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2 million. Again, they must be collaborative projects.
Local advice and support
It’s also worth noting that many local councils across the UK run their own grant schemes — providing access to grant money as well as support in the form of mentorship, accelerators and other training schemes free of charge. Often they have specific criteria focussed on solving a UK-focussed challenge.