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UK Small & Medium Enterprises Grants: November Update

Securing grants for your small business or start-up is a constant challenge – but there is help available. Here, we have rounded up a comprehensive list of grants from all over the UK. In our previous blog, we talked about UK Business Visas and Grants and introduced them to you. In this article, we are going to provide updated information about the UK SME grants and the currently available supports for small and medium businesses in the UK.


What are business grants?

A business grant is a sum of money given to a business to help them further their business. They are usually distributed by governments, corporations, foundations, or trusts. Unlike many other types of business funding, grants do not have to be paid back and business owners are not required to give up equity in exchange for a grant – a condition of winning investment – therefore, they are an attractive form of financing for many companies.
Small business grants are often aimed at specific regions, specific industry sectors, specific types of businesses, or specific community groups, which can make grants hard to access for certain companies. For example, some grants for new businesses may only be available for women, while other government business grants may be solely available for start-ups in the environmental sector.
The application process is highly competitive – everyone wants free money, after all – while the size of business grants can vary considerably, from several hundred pounds to hundreds of thousands. It is also important to remember that applying for business start-up grants can be an intense, time-consuming process, with lots of tricky steps, procedures, and processes to get to grips with.
If you are confused about what grants, ventures or loans are suitable for your business, book a call with us here and wait for one of our experts to contact you for a FREE CONSULTATION!


Types of business grants

As mentioned earlier, we have already introduced a number of business grants in this article. Let’s take a look at the other types of business grants out there.


Innovate UK Grants

Innovate UK’s pilot programme of innovation loans started in 2017 and, through 7 competitions, has now committed £75m to about 100 successful applicants.

As part of the Government’s coronavirus response package that includes changes to the timing of projects, continuity grants, additional business advice, a ‘fast-start’ competition and the Sustainable Innovation fund, Innovate UK is offering up to £210 million in loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and third sector organisations that have a challenge in continuing innovation activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loans are for organisations that find themselves facing a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds resulting directly from the COVID-19 pandemic. This innovation continuity loan may be suitable if you need funding of between £250,000 and £1,600,000.


Who can apply?

There are three parallel strands for innovation continuity loans:
  • strand 1: applicants who are continuing and completing a live project with an Innovate UK award
  • strand 2: applicants who have a new project that follows on from a project with an Innovate UK award that was completed in the last 36 months
  • strand 3: applicants who are continuing, completing or following on from innovation activity that has not been supported by an Innovate UK award in the last 36 months
You must match all of the criteria:
  • for strand 1: currently, funded project participants in an Innovate UK award
  • or for strand 2: participants with a project that follows on from a project with an Innovate UK award that completed in the prior 36 months
  • or for strand 3: participants with a project that is continuing, completing or following on from innovation activity that has not been supported by an Innovate UK award in the last 36 months
  • SMEs (the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) used by Innovate UK is set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003) and third sector organisations
  • undertakings that find themselves facing a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funding resulting directly from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • undertakings that were not in difficulty (within the meaning of Article 2(18) of the General Block Exemption Regulation) on 31 December 2019, but that faced difficulties or entered in difficulty thereafter as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Temporary Framework has been extended to provide public support to micro and small companies in difficulty. Micro and small companies are exempt from this test unless:
  1. they are in insolvency proceedings
  2. have received rescue aid that has not been repaid
  3. or are subject to a restructuring plan under State aid rules
They will offer loans of between £250,000 and £1,600,000. The total loan amount cannot exceed 100% of the eligible project costs of your project providing these costs are not already covered through your existing award. They may consider further reasonable costs arising from an increase in the cost of delivering your R&D activity as a result of Covid-19 that are not already covered by other government support.

The Government is looking for businesses who can demonstrate that their innovation activities are making the best progress in innovation and have the best potential for the future.

To apply for an innovation continuity loan, please go to their dedicated landing page, which will direct you to the appropriate application forms.

Other Innovate UK funding opportunities

Innovate the UK runs a host of other competitions in more niche areas. These include:
  • SBRI competition – Modernising Energy Data Applications phase 1
  • SBRI – AI supporting early detection and diagnosis in heart failure management
  • Robotics for a more resilient future R&D strand
  • Robotics for a more resilient future feasibility strand
  • ATI Programme strategic batch: expression of interest October 2020
  • Innovation continuity loans: Strand 2 October 2020 follow-on competition
  • Knowledge transfer partnerships (KTP): 2020 to 2021, round 4

VC Funding

Venture capital (VC) investment can be a useful way to raise funds for your small business. A venture capital fund is an investment fund made up of contributions from wealthy individuals or companies, who give their money to a VC firm to manage their investment portfolio for them and to invest in high-risk start-ups in exchange for equity.
All investors are made aware of what funds or businesses their money is being invested in, as well as the potential risks and rewards of such investments.
Often when raising a fund, venture capital firms will target a certain amount or specific sector they'll invest in.
Each fund will normally finance multiple different businesses – with the range of likely individual investments normally announced when the fund launches.
So, here is our guide to the UK venture capital funds that we think you should get to know.
Kindred Capital
Latest fund size: £80m (February 2018)
Focus: Invests in start-ups from seed to Series A. Generalist.
Notable investments:
  • Events platform Pollen (previously Verve)
  • Tampon startup Daye
  • Artificial intelligence drug discovery startup LabGenius
  • Self-driving transport startup FiveAI
Index Ventures
Latest fund size: $1bn (July 2018)
Focus: Invests across the US and Europe in startups from seed to venture to growth. Focuses on tech sectors including financial services, software, mobility, retail and enterprise.
Notable investments:
  • Payments company Adyen
  • Open-source search startup Elastic
  • Digital bank Revolut
  • Digital payments provider TransferWise
Passion Capital
Latest fund size: £45m (2015)
Focus: Early-stage tech.
Notable investments:
  • Digital bank Monzo
  • Small business bank Tide
  • Proptech startup Nested
  • Cryptocurrency exchange Coinfloor
Balderton Capital
Latest fund size: $400m (November 2019)
Focus: Invests in startups at Series A. Generalist.
Notable investments:
  • Micromobility startup Voi
  • Digital bank Revolut
  • AI pharmaceutical startup Healx
  • Direct debit company GoCardless
Octopus Ventures
Latest fund size: £230m for its ‘Titan’ fund (April 2018).
Focus: Three key areas: fintech, health tech and industry 4.0. The team invests in startups at any stage of growth, typically investing upwards of £1m for seed, around £5m for Series A and following on with tickets of up to £25m.
Notable investments:
  • Holiday booking company Secret Escapes
  • Women’s health company Elvie
  • Online second-hand car retailer Cazoo
  • Digital health startup Big Health
Latest fund size: $575m (May 2019) — Accel’s sixth fund for early-stage European companies.
Focus: Early-stage companies (typically at the Series A round). Seeks out founders in Europe and Israel who are building “market-defining” business in both the consumer and enterprise sectors.
Notable investments:
  • On-demand food delivery company Deliveroo
  • Music platform Spotify
  • Mobile games company Supercell
  • Robotic processing automation giant UiPath

Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme

Gigabit-capable broadband connections offer the fastest and most reliable speeds available, and the Government is committed to a vision of a digitally connected Britain.
Homes and businesses in rural areas of the UK may be eligible for funding towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband when part of a group scheme.
Rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps can use vouchers worth £1,500 per home and up to £3,500 for each small to medium-sized business (SME) to support the cost of installing new fast and reliable connections.
Group projects are when two or more residents and/or SMEs get together to combine their vouchers towards the shared cost of installation. Single connections are not eligible for additional funding.
‘Rural’ is defined using agreed standard measures in the relevant part of the UK. For the gigabit voucher premises in the following areas will be defined as rural. Read more here

Also, in order to qualify for a business voucher you will be asked to self-certify that you meet the European Commission definition of an SME whereby your business has:
  • Up to 249 employees (in total in the organisation) and turnover no greater than €50m per annum, and/or
  • A balance sheet of no more than €43m
  • You will also have to self-certify that you have received less than €200k in public grants in the last 3 years – the de minimis limit.
  • You will be asked to provide evidence of your status as an SME or sole trader.


Horizon 2020

Groups applying for this award must include a university, college or other academic institution. It is open to everyone and has an emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges.
Horizon 2020 grants are typically made available as part of a specific call out for a particular business sector and partners from other EU countries are required. Read more here


R&D Tax Credits

R&D Tax Credits are for innovative projects in science and technology. They can be claimed by firms who want to research or develop an advance in their field. You can even claim it on unsuccessful projects.
You can apply if you have fewer than 500 staff and a turnover of under €100m or balance sheet total under €86m.
There are different types of R&D relief, depending on the size of your company and if the project has been subcontracted to you or not.
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) R&D Relief
  • Research and Development Expenditure Credit

Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)

You may be familiar with this scheme. It helps start-ups to raise money for their business. You get a maximum of £150,000 including state aid awarded in the three years running up to the date of investment.
Make sure you meet the conditions so investors can claim and keep SEIS tax reliefs relating to their shares. Said tax reliefs will be withheld or withdrawn if you do not meet these conditions for three years after the investment. The money must be spent within three years of the share issue.


How do you apply for a business grant?

There are thousands of business grants available at any one time in the UK, so how do you maximise your chances of securing the one you want? Here is the best way to apply for a grant:
  1. Find a grant you are eligible for – As there are so many grants you could potentially apply for, you will need to narrow down your options. You can use the business finance support finder to search for government business grants based on industry, size, or locality.
  1. Research your chosen grant – After you have settled on a grant, it is time to research. Contact the awarding body to assess your chances, read up on the objectives of the grant, and check that the grant’s time frame fits with your needs.
  1. Ensure you have the necessary funds – Many grants require you match the amount of grant money, meaning that you will be putting up 50% of the cost of the project. If that is the case for the grant you are applying for, ensure these funds are available.
  1. Make your application – Finally, it is time to make your application. Provide a thorough business plan, a clear work plan, and an outline of your business history. You should also address the objectives of the grant and explain how the awarding body will be meeting their objectives by selecting your business. This is where our team can help you the most. Contact us here for a free consultation. We guarantee your success!
With a strong presence in London over the last 15 years, B&F Services has successfully worked with 3000+ businesses and raised over £55,000,000 fund for small businesses to-date and have helped start-ups and investors to settle in the UK. Find out more about our team
We hope that you find this article useful and informative. Our company also offers a free consultation, which could help you decide better and achieve your goals easier. Contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION!

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2020 SME Update - Business Visas & Grants

Like the other countries, Coronavirus has impacted the UK Businesses as well as Visa policies and we would like to take the opportunity to shed some light on how currently B&F Services is helping overseas entrepreneurs and investors to take their Visa to the UK. As always, we are keen to work with you solicitors, migration lawyers and business consultants to assist companies and individuals starting their business in the UK.
It is not that long ago that we sent newsletters regarding the UK Government’s Business visa updates. But recently, the government has announced changes to the eligibility criteria for the Start-up, the Innovator and the Sole Rep visa. These changes took effect on 4 June 2020. In this blog we look at the planned changes to the named visa eligibility criteria.


If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you have not been able to travel to the UK, you may still be eligible for a visa. The government will consider all applications on a case by case basis. Contact us for more information



According to the Home Office officials’ decision, if Start-up visa or Innovator visa applicants meet the eligibility criteria, they will be able to request further information or evidence from the visa applicant or the Endorsing Body that endorsed the visa application.
Before these updates, endorsement by the Endorsing Body was actually a guarantee for the second stage of the visa application process. After the 4 June, Home Office caseworkers have had the right to ask questions and raise concerns if they doubt that the endorsement by an Endorsing Body has been issued appropriately to the Start-up visa or Innovator candidates.
Moreover, the updated immigration Rules say that Start-up and Innovator visa applicants must be:
  • Founders of their business
  • Relying on their own business plans and have generated the ideas in the business plan or made a significant contribution to those ideas
  • Responsible for executing the business plan


Some of the key updates in applying for this visa include:
  • ownership of an overseas business is not limited to businesses that issue shares, it includes ownership by any arrangement
  • the dependent partner (of the main applicant) cannot have a majority stake, own or control the overseas business under any arrangement
Other updates, clarify the existing position, including:
  • that only genuine applicants can apply
  • the overseas parent company will need to continue to have its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK
  • both the overseas parent company and the intended UK branch or wholly-owned subsidiary must be actively trading in the same type of business
  • the applicant needs to have the skills, experience and knowledge of the business necessary to undertake the role and have full authority to negotiate and take the operational decisions on behalf of the business
  • the applicant will not engage in business of his own nor represent any other business’ interest in the UK
There are also other changes including:
  • clarification that applicants must be the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team, relying on their own business plan, and responsible for executing the plan
  • an Innovator visa applicant’s business may have already started trading but the applicant must be the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team
  • the “Viability” criteria is to be expanded, requiring the applicant’s business plan to be realistic and achievable based on the applicant’s available resources
  • allowing applicants to change business venture, as long as the endorsing body is satisfied that the new venture meets all of the requirements for endorsement, and without the need to obtain fresh endorsement or submit a new visa application


If your Start Up Visa, Innovator Visa and Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa endorsement application has been refused, we can help you as your business concept may only need some minor amendments in order for it to be approved. With our excellent connections with several endorsing bodies, we can help you to get back on the right tracks. Contact us here


Small Business Updates

Following the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic on both individuals and businesses around the world, the UK Government announced on 17 March 2020 a new package of relief measures which aim to help businesses which have been impacted or which have had to close. Read the following sections:

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Launching from 23 March 2020, the new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been primarily supporting small and medium-sized businesses to access short-term cash flow support from accredited lenders.
This scheme can provide up to £5m for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. All UK-based businesses will be eligible for the scheme so long as their annual turnover is less than £45 million. Read more here 

Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses affected by coronavirus

For businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality trades (including shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas, hotels and similar accommodations and live music venues), the UK Government has announced both a cash grant of up to £25,000 as well as a business rates payments ‘holiday’ in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme allows businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under to receive a cash grant of £10,000, while properties with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
Check if you're eligible for the coronavirus Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund


Small business start-up grants

The available start-up grants are for the following sectors:
The Lottery Heritage Fund supports heritage projects ranging from designed landscapes to cultural traditions.
Innovate UK provides government grants to “develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base”.
Research and Development tax reliefs support companies seeking to research or develop an advancement in their field (even if the project is unsuccessful).
Read more here


Small business grants for young people

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government is going the extra mile to support young business owners aging between 18 to 30 setting up a £5 million Enterprise Relief Fund. To be eligible, you need to have set up your business within the last four years and not have any other source of income during the pandemic.

New Enterprise Allowance

This scheme gives you mentoring and an allowance if you want to start, or develop, a business. To be eligible, you will need to be over 18 and either:
  • get Universal Credit, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance (or have a partner who does)
  • be a lone parent, sick or disabled and on Income Support
Your mentor will need to approve your business plan. After that, you may get an allowance of up to £1,274 over 26 weeks. You should speak to your Jobcentre Plus work coach if you want to apply for the New Enterprise Allowance to help start or develop your own business. Read more


Grants for taking on an apprentice

According to this scheme, you can get financial help from the government to train an apprentice in your small business. If your pay bill is less than £3 million a year, you won’t pay the apprenticeship levy. This means you get 5% towards the cost of training and assessment for your apprentice, if the apprenticeship started on or after 1 April 2019.
The government pays their 95% share and you also pay your share both directly to the training organisation, according to a payment schedule you agree with the training organisation. Find out more

With a strong presence in London over the last 15 years, B&F Services have successfully worked with 3000+ businesses and raised over £55,000,000 fund for small businesses to-date and have helped start-ups and investors to settle in the UK. Find out more about our team

We hope that you find our email useful and informative. Our company also offers free consultation which could help you decide better and achieve your goals easier.


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B&F Services to Exhibit at Tech Day London 2019

B&F Services will be joining over 7000 participants and 50 exhibitorst at one of London’s biggest start-up events Tech Day London at Old Billingsgate, London on the 25th of October.

This exciting opportunity has arisen for London’s business consultancy service for small and medium-sized businesses, to exhibit at this year's event, showcasing services in helping to get investment ready and business planning – educating start-ups on the process of crowdfunding and finding the right investors. B&F services started in 2005 and have since helped to established 3,200 businesses across Europe and in particular the UK, working alongside entrepreneurs and small and medium businesses, helping them to raise over £55,000,000 by offering a range of services, covering all industries. Furthermore, to their services in funding, B&F Services also offers additional help and advice on accounting and marketing.
Operations Director, Ewa Dudek has commented on B&F Services’ aims and the importance of seeing their customers reach their goals: “For us at B&F services, we are proud to be able to not only help our clients set out their targets and goals through our range of services, enabling them to reach their full potential but for us to also be there with them every step of the way. It is important for us that we are not only helping SMEs get investment ready, but we are also aiding our clients through the process, by finding the right investors for their business. Anyone that has started a small business on their own knows that it can be challenging and daunting, but that’s why we are here to offer our advice and support.” – Ewa Dudek, Operations Director at B&F Services.
Despite, all the brands seen on the streets of the UK, it is actually SMEs that make up the largest amount of the UK economy at 5.7 million (99%) in the UK last year and around one-third of UK business growth is in London, standing at approximately 1.1million. For B&F Services this is an important factor, proving that SMEs have the ability to thrive in our economy, and thus, the ability to reach their full potential, with B&F Services helping entrepreneurs and SMEs see it through every step of the way, from finding the right marketing strategy for a company to helping them design their website and the promotion of their products or services. B&F Services strives to provide their clientele with the opportunity to make the impossible, possible, through their dedication to ensuring that all areas and bases are covered from crowdfunding and investing to business planning, marketing, and promotions.
B&F Services, Director, Dr Farhad Reyazat has commented further on this: “The number of people starting-up is on the rise with approximately 543,000 each month, we cannot wait to show more people how B&F Services can help get the appropriate funding and help in starting up their own businesses. We believe that we have the ability and potential to help small and medium-sized businesses harness the power, which will, in turn, make for a more effective growth in business. For us to be able to showcase our services at Tech Day London this year is major, we are honoured to have the opportunity to exhibit here, educating othe amazing opportunities that are out there waiting.” 
B&F Services, over the years, has opened themselves up to a broad range of industries, from events and wedding planning, restaurants, and coffee shops to even estate agencies. Through equity-based funding, this has provided B&F Services with the opportunity to help clientele in the areas mentioned increase funding for their small businesses through the processes of raising capital through the sales of shares within a business, helping clients find the right investors for their small business no matter what their financial status is, with their current success rate standing at 96% of having helped secure funding through their business plans for their clients. Working hard to help promote businesses, there is an extensive range of services to choose from, like standard business plans, marketing plans, financial and executive business plans, all at affordable costs. As well as this, B&F states that if a client cannot find a plan they are looking for, then they are more than happy to help customise one for you, this is something a lot of other business consultants cannot offer their clients. 
Including B&F Services, Tech Day London, is one of London’s largest start-up events, this year has over 7000 start-up participants, where they will be promoting their services and offering advice to both investors and start-up businesses at this year's event. Tech Day London was created in 2012 in order to allow brands to showcase their ideas on a platform, where they can present their work, providing talks and demos on how their products will work and can make a difference, thus also allowing investors the opportunity to also see what is out there, it has since hosted some of the largest firms today, like Uber, and has become one of the best opportunities to present growing work ideas to fellow businesses and investors, supplying a gap in which to get your foot in the door.

 More about the event and to register - https://techdayhq.com/community/startups/b-f-services-91116891-9f79-420b-b0b0-20645de6fde1

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B&F Services Open Day

We're pleased to announce that B&F Services will hold an Open Day for entrepreneurs and start-ups seeking consultancy on funding, business planning and expansion. We will hold open days on 11 & 12th of July at our office at 68 King William St, London EC4N 7DZ or online via Skype.

For over 14 years we have been supporting UK and overseas entrepreneurs building scalable companies by providing consulting and experts advice, tailored mentoring sessions and support in areas such as concept verification, market research, funding, technology, finance & accounting and marketing.


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