Business financing options - an overview

Grants and government support for businesses


A grant is a sum of money given to an individual or business for a specific project or purpose.

A grant usually covers only part of the total costs involved. However, as long as you keep to any conditions attached to the grant, you will not have to repay it or give up shares in your business.

Grants to help with business development are available from a variety of sources, such as the government, local councils and some charitable organisations.  These grants may be linked to business activity, geographical areas or a specific industry sector.

The government provides support to businesses both financially, in the form of grants, and through access to expert advice, information and services. 

There will be strong competition and the eligibility criteria for grants can be strict. Criteria vary but are likely to include the location, size and industry sector of the business - see grant eligibility.

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.

Currently, the main groups that award grants are:

For more information, search the Northern Ireland business support finder.

Read about Invest NI support for business.

Watch this video tutorial which outlines the common sources of funding for businesses, including bank finance, equity finance and government grants.