Business grants in Scotland: What do you need to know?

If you run a small business in Scotland, then you could be eligible for a number of grants. Discover more here

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Update: 6th October 2023

The British Business Bank has just unveiled its groundbreaking £150 million investment fund for Scottish entrepreneurs today, offering a significant financial boost to empower and elevate small businesses.

The fund provides loans ranging from £25,000 to £2 million and equity investments of up to £5 million, facilitating the growth of these small and medium-sized enterprises, whether they are just starting or scaling up. To find out more, click here.

Perhaps you run your own business in Scotland, or are looking to set up your start-up there soon…

Whether your start-up is pre-launch or in its early years…

If you’re situated in Scotland you might be able to apply for grants to help support your business.

Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, the Highlands and everywhere in between – wherever your business is located, read on to learn about the possible types of grant funding available to your business.

In this article, we’ll provide you with in-depth information about small business grants in Scotland, including:

  • The business grants that are available in Scotland
  • The details of the different schemes

If you’re not in work at the moment, have a look at our guide to business start-up grants for the unemployed for more specialised information.

What business grants are available in Scotland?

Small business grants in Scotland tend to either be funded by the Scottish or UK Government, as well as the European Union (EU). Generally, the funding is either available for any business across Scotland (or for businesses intending to be based in Scotland). Alternatively, some grants are only available to businesses working in certain sectors or specific locations.

To learn more about the different types of grants and awarding bodies, click here.

What are the details of the different schemes?

In this section, we’ll outline the grants available, including what the criteria is and how to apply.

It’s likely you’ll need to provide a business plan at some point in an application process. It’s a key part of your supporting documentation, not only for reviewing your application but for ensuring your business stays on track and goes in the direction you want it to. You can download a free business plan template from our business plan guide.

Scottish Edge

This competition looks for innovative, high-growth businesses to win up to £100,000; and is separated into three categories which award different amounts to different types of businesses.

It consists of Scottish Edge – which is the main category and also offers two additional awards: Higgs Edge and Creative Edge – as well as two additional categories, Wild Card Edge and Young Edge. See below for a more detailed breakdown.

What does it offer?

CategorySuitable forPrize
Scottish EdgeInnovative, high-growth, up-and-coming businesses and entrepreneurial talentUp to £100,000
Scottish Edge additional awards:
  1. Higgs Edge
  2. Creative Edge
As above, and:
  1. Businesses that focus on engineering, science and technology
  2. Businesses that operate in the creative sector in Scotland
  1. Up to £150,000
  2. Up to £100,000
Young EdgeCompanies with all directors (excluding non-executive directors and investors) aged 18-30Up to £15,000 of financial support only; plus a place in a future Scottish Edge final
Wild Card EdgePre-trading businesses to bring new products or services to marketUp to £15,000 of funding and other non-financial support; plus a place in a future Scottish Edge final

How do you apply?

The application process consists of submitting an application form and a video presentation. These are then reviewed by an independent panel of experts.

Applications last closed on 5 September 2018, but keep your eye on the website for updates!

Scottish Enterprise

Scottish Enterprise is the primary economic development agency for Scotland. It’s a part of the Scottish Government; a non-departmental public body. It offers several funding opportunities for small businesses in Scotland, which are detailed in the table below.

What does it offer?

SMART: SCOTLANDFeasibility studies (a study that reviews how practical a suggested plan/method is) of six to 18 months in lengthUp to 70% of eligible costs, to a maximum of £100,000Small to medium sized businesses: Less than 50 employees, turnover of less than €10m
SMART: SCOTLANDResearch and Development (R&D) projects of six to 36 months with the aim of developing a pre-production prototype of a new product or processUp to 35% of eligible project costs, to a maximum of £600,000. The minimum total project cost is £75,000Small to medium sized businesses based in, or planning to locate to, Scotland
Regional Selective Assistance (RSA)Developing a project in Scotland – with some capital investment and jobs created or maintained directly as a resultVarying amounts – based upon business size, project location and an assessment of how much funding is required for the projectThe project must be located in Scotland (but businesses can be based inside or outside of Scotland)
Make it to MarketDeveloping or adapting products or services to prepare or launch for export (selling to international markets)Up to 70% of eligible costs between £2,000 and £5,000Scottish small to medium sized businesses or social enterprises which are registered for VAT and contribute to a minimum of 30% of the costs and pay for the project at the outset
Research and Development (R&D)Projects that aim to increase competitiveness within companies and benefit the economy in Scotland; showcase significant innovationUp to 50% of project costs that are not intended for commercial use, for example drawings, plans etcBusinesses must be between six and 36 months old and starting new projects. Businesses must be based in, or planning to set up in, Scotland

How do you apply?

There are several stages to the application process, depending on your chosen grant. If you’re interested in applying, you can begin the process by making an enquiry on the website.

Scottish Rural Development Programme

The Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) runs a number of schemes, all of which focus on advancing the Scottish rural economy. If you run an agricultural or forestry business, or another enterprise that benefits or supports rural areas, you may be eligible for a grant.

While the SRDP offers several schemes, we’ve highlighted the most relevant two for small businesses.

What does it offer?

Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS)For creating new woodlands or managing existing woodlands sustainablyVariable, depending on area, category and type of treeBusinesses have to be focused on creating or improving woodland, tree health or agroforestry
Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operationFor supporting suppliers and producers to create and promote fresh, healthy food in ScotlandVarying percentage which depends on: whether your project is capital (such as equipment) or non-capital; the size of your business (micro, small, medium or large); and what your business producesBusinesses that process or market agricultural produce into food items (excluding fishery and seafood production; there’s a separate scheme available for that here)

How do you apply?

If you’d like more information, visit the Scottish Rural Network website. You can apply for the FGS online.

SBRI: Perth Smart Energy Network

In this Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) research and development project, your business could apply for funding to develop a smart energy system in Perth and Kinross council.

What does it offer?

Businesses of any size can submit an application, as long as their project starts before 31 January 2019 and lasts for a maximum of six months. Funding of up to £150,000 is available in this first phase of what is expected to be a two-phase scheme.

How do you apply?

Your business must be able to test in the Perth and Kinross area, and have a plan that clearly details how the suggested smart energy solution can be used commercially. More information and applications are available online here.

HIE Small Innovation Grant Scheme

What does it offer?

This scheme, offered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), is aimed specifically at businesses local to the area. With a focus on realising innovative ideas, your business could receive a grant of up to £15,000.

How do you apply?

To apply, your business must be based in the Highlands and Islands area and have no more than 250 employees. For more information, contact HIE by telephone or email here.

What are the next steps?

From our guide, you’ve learned what particular funding is out there in terms of business start-up grants in Scotland. We’ve covered the details of several schemes – so where do you go from here?If you’ve already launched your start-up and identified which grant is suitable, then it’s time to get to work on your application form. Alternatively, if you’ve yet to start your business, then now’s the time to get going and actually start. Wherever you’re at in your business lifecycle, focus on where you want to go next – good luck!

Written by:
Scarlett writes for the energy and HR sections of the site, as well as managing the Just Started profiles. Scarlett is passionate about championing equality and sustainability in business.
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