Navigating the Grant Landscape: A Start-up's Guide to Finding Funding

business finance business owners entrepreneurship May 23, 2024

Written by Sandra Benbow

Securing funding is often one of the most challenging hurdles for start-ups. However, with the proper guidance and support, it can be overcome. When I meet entrepreneurs or deliver start-up training, the first question I get asked is how and where to find grants. I have helped many start-ups and SMEs win millions in grant funding and have seen how the system works from both sides as a grant funder and writer. So, this week's article focuses on navigating the grant landscape in the UK, providing you with the confidence to take the first step. 

Understanding the Grant Ecosystem

The UK has a vibrant and accessible grant ecosystem. Here are some prominent grant sources:

    1. UK Grant Finder:  This service allows you to search government grants. 
    2. Innovate UK: As part of UK Research and Innovation, Innovate UK offers grants to businesses developing cutting-edge technologies and offers a range of funding competitions tailored to different stages of business development. 



  1. Birmingham City Council: Local Councils will offer support and grants to businesses. 

Steps to Secure Grant Funding

  1. Research and Identify Opportunities: Begin by exploring grant databases and websites and match your project with suitable grants by considering factors such as industry, stage of development, and funding size.
  2. Understand Eligibility Criteria: Carefully review the eligibility requirements for each grant. Some grants target specific sectors, company sizes, or project stages. Ensure your start-up meets these criteria before investing time in the application process.
  3. Prepare a Strong Application:
    • Clearly Define the Problem and Solution: Articulate the problem your project addresses and how your solution stands out.
    • Highlight Innovation: Demonstrate how your project is innovative and what makes it unique.
    • Showcase Impact: Outline your project's potential economic, social, or environmental impacts.
    • Develop a Realistic Budget and Timeline: Provide a detailed budget and a realistic timeline for project milestones.
  4. Leverage Partnerships: To strengthen your application, collaborate with research institutions, other businesses, or non-profits. Partnerships can enhance credibility and bring additional expertise and resources.
  5. Seek Expert Advice: Consider engaging with grant consultants or advisors who specialise in your industry. 
  6. Prepare for Reporting and Compliance: Understand the reporting requirements and compliance obligations associated with the grant. Maintaining thorough records and timely reporting will ensure ongoing funding and future eligibility.

Tips for Success

  • Start Early: Grant applications can be time-consuming. Start the process well in advance to allow ample time for research, preparation, and revisions.
  • Be Specific and Concise: Grant reviewers often sift through numerous applications. Being transparent, specific, and concise can make your application stand out.
  • Emphasise Value for Money: Demonstrate how your project offers value for money, aligns with the grantor’s objectives, and delivers measurable benefits.

Navigating the grant landscape can seem daunting, but with careful research, strategic planning, and a compelling application, you can achieve success. I’m keen to connect with fellow entrepreneurs to discuss grant writing. What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? Let's connect if you’re navigating the challenges of finding grants alone. 

We have designed this grant writing canvas, which you can download here, to help you on your grant writing journey. We also have a course on our website you can access right away. Click here for more information. 


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