The SMART Cheshire Innovation Programme is delivered by the Centre for Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University, and is a fully-subsidised development programme for small firms based in Cheshire with fewer than 50 employees. The programme comprises a series of innovation-themed workshops, delivered on University Campuses, which sandwich a 121 coaching session. Paul Hesp is one of the approved coaches that clients can select. The four workshops are "Internal Innovation and Intrapreneurship: People, Processes and Products"; "Stimulating Demand: Innovative Development of New to Market Products"; "Leadership and Implementing Change"; "Innovating through Financial Strategy and Pricing". Eligible delegates (one per company) are grouped into "innovation groups" to facilitate knowledge transfer. To apply and find out more click here.
A new programme was launched in October 2015. Small rural businesses (which means businesses that are based in rural locations) can apply for funding of up to 40% of the costs of developing/ growing their businesses. Available in designated Rural Action Zones, which include rural areas of North East Derbyshire and most of the Peak District (including the market towns Buxton, Ashbourne, Leek and Matlock, which were previously excluded). You need to demonstrate that you will create new jobs (at least one for each £15k of funding). You'll also need to pre-register your business with the Rural Payments Service in order to receive grant. The first wave of projects are likely to get formal Offers of support in March/April 2016. There's a 2-stage application process- Expression of Interest followed by a Full Application. Grants of £2,500 up to £150,000 can contribute to Business start-up costs; construction, establishment or expansion of workshops, factories, premises and facilities; purchase of plant and equipment; marketing of products or services.
PHMC offers expert support to increase your chances of success in applying, and is happy to discuss your potential project without charge and without obligation.
North East Derbyshire Business Growth Fund (NED BGF)
If you're not in a Leader area but are in Dronfield, Clay Cross or Tupton, this scheme may be able to help you start-up, expand or develop your business. Available until March 2017 (it's a pilot), a maximum grant of £4,000 subsidising up to 90% of eligible costs is possible.
Grants can be for either capital or revenue expenditure; examples of the types of activity which can be funded could include:
- Extending and improving premises
- Development of the business profile to boost trade (e.g. website development, social media campaigns and other promotion and advertising)
- Equipment purchases including office, plant and machinery items
- Business start-up costs
To find out more visit NEDCC's web page at http://www.ne-derbyshire.gov.uk/business/ned-business-growth-fund/
PHMC offers expert support to increase your chances of success in applying, and is happy to discuss your potential project without charge and without obligation.
Knowledge Exchange for Innovation (KEI)
This programme has been announced by the University of Derby, and could be useful if you are an SME in Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire, and would consider employing a graduate on a business project. The University can introduce funding for 30% of the costs of employement for 6 - 12 months, and back it up with supervision of the graduate and guidance for the company. Your project should seek to introduce something novel in the business, and could range from implementing a new CRM or other computerised system to automating previously manual tasks or to develop new products or services. A degree of innovation is expected, but it doesn't have to be cutting-edge research and development. This programme is not dissimilar to the Knowledge Transfer Partnership some may know, but should be more flexible and more accessible to small firms. If it sounds interesting, you'll find details here at the KEI web page.
Innovate UK was set up in 2004 and until 2014 was known as the Technology Strategy Board. This is the body through which R&D technology funding is now channelled. The type of project that can be supported is prioritised in four "sector groups"- each of the links below gives more information about what these groups include. There are also "open competitions" available. Remember, everything is COMPETITIVE- only the best projects will be supported.
Each group will make funding available twice a year through a lengthy competition- this could be several months from the time you submit an application, or from the closure of a call, so will not be for you if you're in a hurry. New competitions will be published here.
PHMC offers support often on a no-win no-fee basis. If you think you have a project that could fit, get in touch for a no-obligation confidential discussion.
Sheffield City Region "Enhanced Growth Hub Project"
SME businesses (with up to 250 employees) in the SCR area can now access subsidised support to help them plan and implement "real growth". Funds have been secured (and managed by Sheffield City Council) that allow the Growth Hub to support 50% of the costs of a specilist consultant. This could be to a maximum of £5,000 grant. Your business must be located in the SCR area- that is, Barnsley, Bassetlaw,
Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Doncaster, North East Derbyshire,
Rotherham or Sheffield. First in line will be businesses that operate in a "PRIORITY SECTOR". In Sheffield City Region that means:
Advanced Manufacturing and Materials
Business & Professional Services
Creative and Digital Industries
Property and Construction
Sport, Leisure and Tourism
If you are in one of these sectors, can demonstrate growth ambition and opportunity and are likely to create new jobs as a result, you'll be considered. If accepted, you'll benefit from the non-chargeable support of a Key Account Manager- an impartial broker who helps identify your support needs, and can often introduce you to other help available in the region. You'll also be able to access grant support to fund a specialist consultant of your choice such as PHMC (you will have to demonstrate a fair procurement process). Grants may be used to support cration of a business gworth plan, to develop the board, plan for business continuity, create a new marketing strategy, develop and launch new products and services, improve tender-writing skills, implement Key Performance Indicators, refine your manufacturing processes, introduce "lean" or other efficiency initiatives. And there's much more too, including access to finance, export development and IT development. There's a limited amount of information available on the Growth Hub Website, or make a no-obligation call to PHMC to find out more.
Accelerated Growth Programmes
A new service provider- Enterprise Growth Solutions (a subsidiary of West
Midlands Manufacturing Benevolent Fund (WMMBF), an experienced business support organisation that previously delivered the Manufacturing Advisory Service ), has been appointed to launch and manage "Manufacturing Growth Programmes" in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire, Humberside and West Midlands. These programmes can offer grants of 35% towards the costs of business growth projects, to SMEs in the manufacturing sector, which can include support from PHMC. Contact PHMC to find out more.
In Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire D2N2 (the Local Enterprise Partnership) have launched a small Accelerated Growth Programme. Grants of 35% are on offer to SMEs with high growth potential, who have at least 10 employees. Our understanding is that 100 businesses will be offered a detailed independent needs assessment, and of those half will be offered grants; it is likely that the selection will be based on best return on the grant, so PHMC expects that the higher the number of jobs that the business will create, the greater the prospects of being offered a grant. Grants can be used to support the costs of financial and professional support (such as PHMC). CAUTION: The status of this programme is uncertain because the managing company (Pera Consulting (UK) Ltd) appointed Administrators on 16 September.
Regional Growth Fund
The Regional Growth Fund is the main channel through which government funding for smaller businesses is now distributed. For SMEs (up to 250 employees) your LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) usually manages funds. In the East Midlands and in some parts of Yorkshire capital grants are available to support the costs of projects that result in significant new employment- that might be bringing in new manufacturing equipment that enables you to become more competitive, expanding your business by launching additional services. So long as it will result in new jobs there could be financial support for you in the form of grants typically from £5k to £500k, at up to 20% of project costs. A list of RGF programmes relevant to small busineses is shown below.
This is very competitive and projects will need to be well-designed and well-managed. Applications need to be well presented. PHMC will be pleased to offer advice and support, and has a great track record in writing successful grant applications.
- East Midlands businesses: A capital grants programme is now live- Invest to Grow. There is a preference for loans rather than grants where premises are being purchased or extended, and loans are well worth a thought, particularly at the favourable rates this scheme should offer. This is a complex application process. Eligibility is now restricted to "Assisted Areas" only, as funds are starting to dry up, so check with me or take a thorough look at the website before getting too excited. Your minimum spend (against which you could get funding of 30%) needs to be £50,000.
- The Derby Enterprise Growth Fund (DEGF) has been revived (I guess some projects to which funding had been allocated didn't go ahead, so those previously earmarked funds can be re-offered). If you're in Derby City, this could be for you. Funding of up to 30% (loans wherever possible, grants where essential) for projects that create new jobs. You must create at least one new job for each £10k of funding.
- The D2 Enterprise Growth Fund (D2EGF) is managed by Derby City Council and covers the county of Derbyshire (If you're in Derby City, see DEGF above). SME businesses (less than 250 staff) who can demonstrate growth in employment can apply for "Enterprise Expansion" funding of 30% of capital investment costs. Projects can include:
- Investment in capital equipment
- Investment in site / building infrastructure
- Development of new products or service lines
- Support with costs of relocation from abroad, ie. reshoring
- Investment in exporting
The maximum expected grant is going to be around £50k and minimum £10k (so, project costs totalling approx £30k-£170k would be welcomed).
There's also a "Supply Chain Innovation" fund available to businesses in Aerospace, Rail and Automotive sectors. This funding will be available to projects with a demonstrable close to market research and development or innovation need, and where the research acts as a facilitator or fast track to commercialisation and job creation.
IF you have a project in mind that could fit these criteria, have a no-obligation discussion with PHMC. There are 2 stages to applying; an Expression of Interest followed by Full Application. PHMC can help you present your project in the best possibly light. These funds are competitive, and only the best cases will win support.
- N2 Growth Fund has launched and is now accessible to SME companies in the Digital, life sciences, clean technologies and manufacturing sectors. If you operate in one of these sectors (wholly or partially) and have ambitious growth plans you can apply for grants of 20% to fund a growth project, with grants from £20k to £250k available against capital and revenue purchases. You need to create at least one job per £6,200 of grant within a year of your grant receipt. PHMC offers expert help in preparing applications, and without obligation will give you an impratial opinion your prospects of success.
- Sheffield City Region has finally launched its Business Investment Fund, which can fund capital investment for SMEs. This is very much a last resort fund, and there's a default approach of assessing the financial need and putting applicants in touch with commercial lenders in the first place. An offer of support from BIF is likely to include a package of loan and grant, contributing up to 30% towards business growth projects. Funding is linked directly to new jobs created by the project. Grants cannot be used for working capital, training or research and development purposes.
- Barnsley businesses: Leeds City Region now have a live RGF programme offering Grants of £10k to £500k and Loans of £500k to £1m to businesses that can present and implement a growth project creating new jobs. Funding is available up to 20% of project cost or £12,500 per job created (lowest of).
Small Business Rate Relief
You'll almost certainly know that your business pays rates based on the rateable value (set by Valuation Office), based on the assessed value of the property and a multiplier (set by government). Small businesses can get this cost reduced by up to 100%, but you have to claim relief- it isn't automatic.
Many businesses don't claim or don't realise they can claim Small Business Rate Relief if their rateable value is under £12,000 (there's also a £18,000 threshold), and the relief can be as high as 100%. Relief has been doubled since 2011. These are only headlines, other reliefs are also available.
Contact your Local Authority to discuss what you're entitled to. Good news from the 2015 Autumn Statement is that the scheme continues for at least another year to cover 2016/17.
Special rules apply to social enterprises
Grant for Enterprise
NBV are managing a small grants programme for businesses of up to 49 employees in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Greater Lincolnshire. Grants can be used to subsidise the costs of business diversification or growth, and are offered at a rate of 25% of a specific project cost. Your expenditure can be revenue or capital (for example, external consultancy support such as PHMC support or purchase of advertising services is considered revenue, whereas purchase of plant or equipment is considered to be capital). Grants are a maximum of £2,500 at a rate of 25% of project costs. Businesses that service retail (consumer) markets are not eligible. There's a 2-stage process for applications- an initial Expression of Interest followed by Full Application. Download more information.
R&D Tax Relief/ Credits
If you carry out "R&D activity", chances are you can claim back more than your actual costs against your Coproration Tax. How much more? More than double! In fact, those nice people allow us to claim 230% of the costs of staff, materials, test/ trial expenses, even software you buy to use in development, against tax. That's pretty attractive isn't?
To be eligible, your R&D activity needs to fit this criteria- it should be incurred on project(s) which seek to overcome technical or scientific uncertainty. There has to be an element of risk- in other words there was no guarantee you would be successful. This usually translates into new product development, or improving existing products or services.
Even on a small scale it's worth having. For every £100 you spend on R&D, this results in a £46 corporation tax reduction, or if you are making losses a £33 cash refund. So why wouldn't you? This isn't an automatic entitlement- you have to claim it, but the sad news is that it doesn't feature on the radar for many small firms' accountants. You need a specialist!
You can even revise your last 2 years tax returns if you've missed a trick. And, you can still claim some costs if you're making use of Smart (above) to fund your R&D.
So if you think you can demonstrate R&D investment, have a chat with me and I can put you in touch with the country's leading specialist in the field.