Business Grants and Funding

There are a range of grants and funding streams available that can assist with the financial implications of starting up a business, growing a business idea, financial help for existing businesses and funding for research and development work. These include:

Innovation Investment Loan

The Innovation Investment Loan scheme (i3) is funded by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Local Growth Fund and aims to deliver £1.8m of loans to local businesses in 2017/18. The scheme offers 0% loans between £100,000 and £500,000 towards the development of innovation incubator spaces and other workspaces aimed at start-up and small businesses within the Kent and Medway areas.

This scheme is open to new pre-applications from 25 August 2017 and closes at midday on 11 September 2017.

For more information and to apply, visit the Kent County Council website.

LoCASE Services

The ERDF LoCASE project provides support and funding to support energy-efficiency and low-carbon in business. Their grants include:

  • The provision of two types of grant funding (up to a maximum of £10k) that can be awarded to your organisation to improve business performance in terms of profitability, resilience and competitiveness, at the same time as contributing to the protection and preservation of the environment. This grant funding will form 40% of the cost of your eligible project, with the remaining 60% matched by your business. Any business can qualify to use this money toward having energy efficiency measures installed for their business, with both the cost of materials and installation being covered
  • A business development grant available to businesses offering low carbon goods or services. You can claim against eligible costs such as marketing, consultancy, equipment, IT software, product/process development, accreditation and certification

For more information and to apply, visit the LoCASE website.

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Fund (EAFRD)

You could be eligible for a Growth Programme Grant if your business is carrying out a project to create jobs or bring more money into the rural economy. There are three types of grant:

  1. Business development
  2. Food processing
  3. Rural tourism infrastructure

Grants of between £50,000-£1m are available through a competitive application process. Visit to find out more, or email Lorraine George who will be able to provide advice and support in shaping your proposal in line with programme requirements.

'Smart' Grant Scheme

The grant for the R&D scheme, now called Smart, supports SMEs carrying out R&D, which offers potentially significant rewards and that will stimulate UK economic growth.

Three types of grant are available:

  • Proof of market
  • Proof of concept
  • Development of prototype

To find out more about Smart and other grants that may be available to your business visit Locate in Kent.

Let's Do Business Support

If you are finding it difficult to raise finance through a Bank or Building Society then Let's Do Business Support might be able to help.

Am I eligible?

If you can answer yes to the following then you are eligible to apply:

  • Are you at least 18 years of age?
  • Will your business be located in Sussex, Kent or Surrey?
  • Have you been declined finance from a mainstream lender?

What loans are available?

Let's Do Business offer flexible business loan facilities together with on-going business advice and support:

  • Standard Business Loan for amounts up to £10,000
  • Enterprise Finance Guarantee Loan for amounts between £10,000 and £30,000

What business support will I receive?

Capitalise Business Support will help you in the following ways:

  • Give you time and advice on how to refine and develop your plans
  • Guide you through the loan application process
  • Give you the opportunity to attend a range of start-up workshops and business training (there may be additional charges for this)
  • Provide you a free business mentor to give ongoing business support to help grow your business

For more information visit Let's Do Business or call 0845 601 8326.

The Prince’s Trust

If you are between 18 and 30 years of age with a business start-up idea, you could benefit from support from The Prince’s Trust including:

  • A low interest loan of up to £4,000 for a sole trader, or up to £5,000 for a partnership (the average loan is between £2,000 and £3,000 but varies regionally)
  • A grant of up to £1,500 in special circumstances (subject to local availability)
  • A test marketing grant of up to £250 (subject to local availability)
  • Ongoing advice from a volunteer business mentor
  • Access to a wide range of products and services. Includes our free legal helpline sponsored by Barclays

The Prince’s Trust can help you turn your dream into reality.

Call 0800 842842 or visit The Prince's Trust.

StartUp Loans

StartUp Loans of £2,500 are being made available by the government to anyone aged 18 to 24 who lives in England and wants to start a business.

The loans will be distributed by loan distribution partners such as The Prince’s Trust and Enterprise Finance Solutions. The loans available are personal loans and you will be required to pay back the loan within three to five years at a fixed APR (annual percentage rate) of 3% plus RPI (Retail Price Index) which is currently 3.5%.

Everyone who applies for a loan will receive a free copy of the StartUp Loans Kit and, based on submitting a business plan, should your application for funding be successful, you’ll also receive a business mentor who will help you on the way.

The kit offers all the guidance you need to start a business plus over £500-worth of offers on products from business cards to websites, netbooks and work suits.

To register your interest in applying for a loan please register at StartUp Loans.

LEADER funding

The RDPE Leader Programme is a European Union rural funding approach, with grant money available to rural businesses and communities.

Leader can provide grants of up to £50,000, depending upon the project, although match funding will be required in many cases. This money can be provided towards capital or revenue costs, and is available to social and community groups, and to rural and land based businesses. Projects seeking funding must be able to fit with the overall strategies of the Local Action Groups, broadly these are:

  • improve the competitiveness and sustainability of Kent's land-based sectors through diversification, innovation, and adding value to products
  • fostering sustainable rural tourism and related businesses
  • assisting rural communities and businesses in managing change and combating rural deprivation

For examples of the types of projects the Kent Downs and Marshes Leader programme has previously funded, see the case studies on the LEADER website.

More detailed information on the RDPE Programme, including funding eligibilities and restrictions and intervention rates, is available on the DEFRA website, it may also be useful to read the Key information for applicants leaflet. Alternatively please contact the relevant Programme Manager for further information, details of how to get in touch can be found on the LEADER contacts page.

Fredericks Foundation loans

Fredericks Foundation is working in partnership with Kent Community Forum to establish a micro finance fund for the Kent and Medway areas. The foundation will consider you for a loan and business support if you can demonstrate that you have made a genuine application for funds to your bank or a mainstream lender, and that you have been turned down. 

Your business can be at any stage: you may require money to start-up; capital to expand your business; or funds to bridge a gap. Whether you are a sole trader, in a partnership or have a limited company you may be eligible for a loan.

For start-up businesses the foundation offers up to a maximum of £10,000. For established businesses with a financial track record of at least 3 years the maximum loan is £20,000.

The Kent Big Society Fund

The Kent Big Society Fund is a new social finance fund, established with initial funding from Kent County Council. It provides loans for new and existing Kent-based social enterprises and charities that have the desire and appetite to grow their business for community benefit.