Grants can be a game-changer for businesses looking to innovate and thrive. They ensure that businesses reach new markets and adopt more efficient, greener technologies so enriching local economies.

Research & Development (R&D) grants are awarded based on merit and, unlike a business loan, they don’t usually have to be repaid.

Although grants are not intended to support businesses facing financial hardship as difficult economic conditions continue, they can help companies by enabling growth during these challenging times.

Talk the talk

If your business is eligible for a grant, bear in mind that the application process takes time, and grants shouldn’t be considered a ‘quick fix’ to pressing cash-flow issues. If the business is facing financial hardship, it’s best to talk to your bank or a qualified financial adviser.

Some organisations that offer support for research and development include:

  • HMRC
  • Innovate UK
  • UK Research and Innovation
  • Women in Engineering
  • The Prince’s Trust

Know your grants

There are many different grants awarded by local and national government departments and independent funding organisations to businesses in nearly every sector. Some types of research and development grants and incentives include:

  • R&D tax credits
  • Green projects
  • Local or regional grants
  • Revenue-based grants
  • Capital investment grant

Tax relief for R&D

There is a dedicated government page for R&D tax relief, supporting companies that work on innovative projects in science and technology.

The site specifies that ‘the work that qualifies for R&D tax relief must be part of a specific project to make an advance in science or technology’ and can’t be made for arts, humanities and social science projects.

To apply for relief companies must demonstrate:

  • How the business might bring about advances in the field
  • That there was a scientific or technological uncertainty
  • How they could overcome the scientific or technological uncertainty
  • That a professional in the field could not work this out


For more information including the types of relief and how to claim visit the gov.uk guidance page

Regional options

A good starting point for businesses seeking grant funding is also one of the 38 regional Growth Hubs set up to boost local economies in England. Links to these can be found on the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) Network website.

In Scotland, grants are available from local councils, Scottish Enterprise and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Check the Scottish Government’s funding advice page for more information.

In Wales, the Business Wales Finance Locator can help you look for grant options and offers help with the application process.

And in Northern Ireland, Invest NI has a number of different options, including R&D grants of up to £50,000, innovation vouchers worth £5,000, and its technical development incentive (TDI) of up to £10,000 per application. Invest NI is also partnered with Innovate UK and that body’s grants and loans are open to applicants in Northern Ireland as well as those in England, Scotland and Wales.

Keep an eye on the opportunities

Speaking on an episode of the NatWest Business Show Piers Lawford, a Scale Accelerator Manager at NatWest said:

“There are so many options out there, and they don’t necessarily stop during challenging times. Keep an eye on them to see if there are any you might be eligible for.

“Try to approach with a growth mindset, the ability to position your business in the best place possible to take advantage of any challenges or opportunities.”

To get more insights and tips on growth you can listen to all episodes of the NatWest Business Show online.

Find out more about grant funding at the LEP website.

Choose the content you want

Get business inspiration and practical tips straight to your inbox 

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

scroll to top