Small Business & Start Up Business Grants in Scotland - UPDATED

If you’re a business based or operating in Scotland, it’s worth being aware of the grants that could be available to you. Here’s how much is on offer and the eligible businesses and projects.

Holly Bennett, Connor Campbell Last updated on 06 December 2022.
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Small Business & Start Up Business Grants in Scotland - UPDATED

If you’re looking for a cash boost for your business, you may have explored borrowing options, but have you considered a grant? This type of funding is designed to help businesses grow while also bringing wider benefits, such as to the local community or the environment.

Below, we take a look at what a business grant is and what is available in Scotland.

What is a business grant?

A business grant is typically a non-repayable sum of money, used to fund a business activity.

Most grants have quite specific requirements, including being used for certain purposes, which means you should carefully consider which ones you apply for.

While most grants are non-repayable, some may be partially or conditionally repayable. Make sure you understand the funding structure of the grant before applying.

Alongside funding in Scotland, there are also a range of small business grants across the UK. Similarly, there are grants available for specific groups, such as business grants for women.

National small business grants in Scotland

The following is a selection of the small business grants available across Scotland.

Adopt an Apprentice

Eligible regions: Scotland

Sectors: All

Amount: £2,000, or £5,000 for an apprentice in the oil and gas sector

Details: This scheme is a funding incentive to encourage businesses in Scotland to take on apprentices who have been made redundant.

Culture & Business Fund Scotland

Eligible regions: Scotland

Sectors: Arts and heritage organisations

Amount: £1,000 to £3,000 (smaller fund) match funding; £3,000 to £40,000 (larger fund) match funding

Details: The Culture & Business Fund Scotland (CBFS) encourages businesses to sponsor arts and heritage projects in Scotland. The aim is to help these organisations to build new partnerships and make a positive impact on the nation’s creative industry and its people and communities. For example, if your business offers the sponsorship and the CBFS agrees to match 50% of the funding you are providing, it could help launch a project or take activities to a wider audience. Any not-for-profit arts or heritage organisation registered and based in Scotland can apply for funding for businesses to invest in. Sponsorship could benefit your business by helping to promote its name, products or services.

Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) Grants

Eligible regions: Those covered by Scottish Enterprise (Aberdeen City and Shire, the east of Scotland, Tayside and the west of Scotland)

Sectors: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large businesses

Amount: A minimum grant of £100,000 (covering up to 35% of eligible costs for SMEs and 15% for large enterprises)

Details: This grant is aimed at capital investment and job creation in the areas covered by Scottish Enterprise. Any project applying for an RSA grant must last between six and 36 months, and the amount of funding available will vary based on location and business size.

SMART: SCOTLAND

Eligible regions: Scotland

Sectors: SMEs, university spin-outs and individuals

Amount: Up to £100,000 (70% of eligible costs for a small enterprise, 60% for a medium enterprise)

Details: The SMART: SCOTLAND grant is a research and development grant designed to fund the conduction of feasibility studies for ‘high-risk, highly ambitious’ projects. If applying, your project will need to represent an advance in technological innovation for your chosen UK industry or sector.

Business grants in Eastern Scotland

Some business grants are region-specific. The below grants are for businesses based in the east of Scotland.

Nestrans Sustainable Travel Grant Scheme

Eligible regions: Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

Sectors: SMEs

Amount: £500 to £10,000 to cover up to 50% of costs, 50% match funding (Sustainable Travel Grant Scheme); up to £10,000 and up to 100% of costs (Community Sustainable Travel Grant Scheme)

Details: The Sustainable Travel Grant Scheme is focused on improving the development of travel plans and travel awareness, and helping businesses to implement sustainable travel initiatives. Funding could be for measures that encourage a business and its staff to travel in a greener way, such as:

  • secure cycle parking facilities
  • changing rooms
  • improvements to pedestrian access
  • employee training

The Community Sustainable Travel Grant Scheme is for community groups, registered charities or social enterprises.

Fife Trade Development Programme

Eligible regions: Fife

Sectors: SMEs

Amount: Up to £2,000 to cover up to 100% of costs

Details: The Trade Development Programme helps businesses across a range of industries to take part in and visit exhibitions, both national and international. It can offer advice and information on displaying at trade exhibitions, and cover some of the costs of visiting events.

Orkney Business Grants

Eligible regions: Orkney Islands

Sectors: SMEs, with some grants focusing on target sectors including: tourism, food and drink, low carbon and renewable energy, creative and manufacturing, knowledge and technology, service, and community-based social enterprise.

Amount: Varies

Details: Orkney offers many business grants that aim to improve the local economy and create new, sustainable jobs. These include:

  • Covid-19 Business Hardship Support Grant Scheme: To help with financial pressures after a significant fall in income due to Covid-19. Grants of between £2,500 and £7,500 are available, depending on the number of employees.
  • Flexible Business Development Grant: Open to SMEs with a business development project with measurable predicted outcomes. Grants of up to £5,000 for up to a maximum of 50% of eligible project costs.
  • Graduate Placement Scheme: Graduate placement grant up to £15,000 of up to 50% of total wage and National Insurance costs; postgraduate placement up to a maximum of £10,000 of up to 30% of the total wage and National Insurance costs.
  • Economic Development Grant Scheme: Support of up to £55,000 at a rate of up to 30% of costs, towards capital expenditure. A minimum £10,000 of eligible project cost applies, which can include the construction of new buildings or the improvement of existing buildings.
  • Rural Shop Improvement Scheme: Support for improvements for shops outside the town of Kirkwall, in Orkney selling staple foods and household goods. The minimum eligible project cost is £500, with the maximum of £10,000 over a rolling three-year period.
  • Tourism Grant Scheme: For tourism projects that help deliver a high level of customer service to visitors, such as through upgraded accommodation. Grants of up to 30% of eligible costs are available, with a maximum of £55,000 for upgrades.
  • Small Business Training Grant: Support to upgrade skills and develop your workforce training. It’s a grant of up to 90%, up to a maximum of £1,000 (minimum £250), towards non-statutory staff training.

Shetland Islands Economic Development Grant Scheme

Eligible regions: Shetland Islands

Sectors: SMEs

Amount: From £1,000 to £25,000 (between 30% to 50% of project costs)

Details: Businesses in the Shetland islands can apply for a grant worth a maximum of £25,000, for projects related to a range of outcomes, including improving product quality, productivity or service quality, introducing new business activities, or implementing a new market development.

Business grants in Western Scotland

Below are some of the business grants available in the west of Scotland:

Inverclyde Business Grants

Eligible regions: Inverclyde

Sectors: SMEs

Amount: Varies

Details: Some of the small business grants in the Inverclyde region include:

  • Growth Company Development Fund: Up to £10,000 to cover up to 50% of costs relating to capital expenditure such as building expansions, exhibitions, and product development.
  • Marketing Grant: Up to £500 to cover up to 50% of costs to help businesses complete a marketing project, with eligible activities including market research, promotional material, website development, and email campaigns.
  • Marketing Grant for Tourism Businesses: This covers 50% of total marketing costs, up to £1,000, for tourism businesses in the Inverclyde area.
  • Property Assistance Scheme: Up to £10,000 to cover 50% of costs related to projects involving commercial premises, including general improvements, signage, and security measures, when the total project costs exceed £50,000.
  • Business Assistance Grant: Up to 50% of eligible capital expenditure costs, designed to help businesses meet specific growth objectives, with a maximum grant of £5,000.
  • Business Training Grant: Up to 50% of total costs, with a maximum contribution of £2,000, to cover training activities for management and key workers.
  • Grant for Tourism Businesses: A grant worth up to £5,000, to cover a maximum of 50% of capital expenditure costs related to tourism businesses in the area.

West Dunbartonshire Business Grants

Eligible regions: West Dunbartonshire

Sectors: Business-to-business (B2B) SMEs and start-ups

Amount: Varies

Details: There are a variety of grants available for the businesses of West Dunbartonshire including:

  • Town Centre COVID Adaption Grant: Businesses that need to adapt their premises for Covid-19 measures can apply for a maximum grant of £1,000 to cover 50% of costs.
  • Business Training Support: Businesses that employ fewer than 250 people in West Dunbartonshire can apply for a grant worth 50% of costs up to £3,000 in order to cover training fees for their staff.
  • Business Capital Grant: Businesses over 12 months old can apply for a grant worth 30% of essential equipment or machinery costs up to a maximum of £3,000.
  • Business Property Improvement Grant: Non-retail businesses can apply for a grant worth up to £3,000 to cover 30% of costs related to property improvements that will expand their business and create additional employment.
  • Business Digital Investment Grant: Businesses can apply for a grant worth up to £3,000 to cover 30% of the costs of developing and implementing new digital systems at their organisation.

Start up business grants in Scotland

While some of the grants mentioned above may be available to start ups, the following are exclusively for new and early-stage businesses in Scotland:

East Ayrshire Council Business Start Up Grant

Eligible regions: East Ayrshire

Sectors: Start ups and new businesses

Amount: From £500 to £1,000 (up to 40% of total costs)

Details: New businesses in East Ayrshire can apply for a business grant worth up to 50% of their project costs in order to meet their specific needs and initial ambitions.

Inverclyde Start Up Grants

Eligible regions: Inverclyde

Sectors: Start ups and new businesses

Amount: Varies

Details: There are three start up grants in Inverclyde. The start up grant for growth businesses can provide 50% of total costs, up to £500, to new businesses that demonstrate growth potential. Meanwhile, the new business start up grant is for any new business trading in the area, and covers 50% of capital expenditure costs up to £500. Finally, the boost area start up grant is for businesses in the SIMD postcode areas 1 or 2, and can be used to cover up to £1,000 in start up costs and capital expenditure.

Orkney New Business Start Up Grant

Eligible regions: Orkney Islands

Sectors: Start ups

Amount: £500 to £1,500

Details: Aims to drive up the competitiveness, growth and survival rates of start ups that create local employment opportunities, support communities in fragile rural areas and contribute to the local economy.

West Dunbartonshire Business Start Up Grant

Eligible regions: West Dunbartonshire

Sectors: Start ups

Amount: £500

Details: Individuals over the age of 18 can apply for a business grant worth £500 to cover start up costs. A business plan and proof of trading must be submitted when applying for the grant.

What other business funding is available?

If grants are out of your reach, or you want a different type of funding to help your business – whether that means getting high-value equipment, improving cash flow or paying for growth projects – there are other options that might be available to you. These include:

» COMPARE: Business loans

These are just some of the grant options available to small businesses based or operating in Scotland. To help refine your search, you can find signposts to a wide range of funding and support specific to your business through the Scottish government website.

Image source: Getty Images

About the authors:

Holly champions clear, jargon-free writing. She’s been creating finance content for leading organisations for over 10 years. Read more

Connor is a writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and The Independent. Read more

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