The government provides support to businesses both financially, in the form of grants, and through access to expert advice, information and services.
However, getting financial support can be tough. There will be strong competition and the eligibility criteria for grants are stringent. Criteria vary but are likely to include the location, size and industry sector of the business - see grant eligibility.
Government grants are almost always awarded for a specific purpose or project and are usually for proposed projects only - not for those that have already started.
There are also strict terms and conditions that apply to all grants. If these aren't followed, immediate repayment of the grant can be required. However, generally you do not have to repay grants or interest on them unless you break the conditions.
Matching grant funds
Most government grants require you to match the funds you are being awarded. In other words, the grant covers a proportion of the money needed, while you supply the rest. You must also demonstrate that your business can provide its share of the total costs.
The amount of matching funds varies from grant to grant. A research grant may require a business to find 40 per cent of the total cost with 60 per cent provided by the grant. However, a grant to refurbish a factory may require a considerably higher percentage of match funding from the business.
The matching funds may be found from the owners of the business, retained profits, a loan, or from a new investor.