Top Tips for Grant Funding Applications

Helen Carr, PNO Consultants

On 7th November and 2nd December EBRI is hosting two events, working with PNO Consultants, to help SMEs in the West Midlands gain access to grant funding for their innovative ideas.

Helen Carr, Senior Innovation Consultant at PNO explains how these sessions could help grow SME businesses.

“One of the hardest parts of developing your bioenergy innovation project is to secure the external funding needed to make it a success. PNO are Europe’s leading innovation grants specialists, so our role in these sessions with EBRI is to advise and support businesses across the West Midlands on whether your project could be eligible for Government support on either a national or European level. Funding is the ideal mechanism to help businesses realise their ideas and create awareness in order to help them grow.

These funding information sessions are free so, if you have an innovation project that you want to progress using grant funding, book your place. It is also worth noting that PNO can provide support in any follow on work, for example bid preparation activity – which will also be available at no cost.

Before coming along to the sessions it may be useful to start thinking about the key questions posed by grant funders, and some key criteria to take into consideration before applying for a grant.

Here are our 12 top tips for preparing a grant application…

  1. Outline a clearly evidenced need for your innovation – identify limitations of the current state-of-the-art, compare and contrast current solutions with your innovation, highlighting the indisputable market need for your project.
  2. Define the target market – demonstrate that you have done your research, cover the UK, EU and global markets for your solution (including size, growth, and dominant players), make sure that you substantiate all figures with relevant and up to date sources and provide realistic projections for both market share and income potential.
  3. Explain your route to market and exploitation of project results – show the assessor that your company not only has the innovation, but also the tools to build a sustainable market share for the solution. Detail project outcomes, next steps prior to market entry, existing relationships with customers and early adopters and a justified Return on Investment.
  4. Quantify the economic, social and environmental benefits – prove that the benefits are relevant and realistic by providing evidence, aligning with policy/drivers and quantifying in terms of positive impacts, such as new IP, job creation, monetary savings, CO2 reduction and noise reduction.
  5. Detail project management and technical approach – use a professional and logical method, demonstrate that your team has the management skills and experience to deliver the project on time and within budget. Include work packages, timescales, milestones, deliverables and a Gantt chart.
  6. Highlight technical and commercial innovation – your innovation must push boundaries over current state-of-the-art and/or apply existing technology in new areas. Assessors are looking for evidence which supports claims of innovation, such as patent searches, competitor analysis and literature reviews. In addition, most grants seek new IP so it is important that you explore how and where this could be generated.
  7. Conduct a detailed risk analysis – demonstrate that your project has a substantial element of risk, and that this risk will be mitigated effectively throughout the project. Keep in mind that the grants are often positioned to fund risky projects, which are not attractive to other investors.  Document commercial, environmental and technical risks in a register, providing mitigation strategies, likelihood and potential impacts of each one.
  8. Show that your team has sufficient commercial and technical skills – provide the business track record, staff profiles and roles of team members including subcontractors. Remember that demonstrating technical expertise is important but the assessor must also be confident that your team has the commercial experience to bring the solution to a large market.
  9. Consider working with partners – some grants are specifically for multiple partner collaboration projects while others are for single applicants. If subcontracting is allowed, chose organisations that will add value to the project and can fill your skill gaps.
  10. Explain the finances – calculate and explain the project budget and the costs per work package.
  11. Reassure that you have match funding – the majority of grants require applicants to fund part of the project. This can come from a number of different sources, such as Venture Capital, angel investment, internal funds, Directors funds and existing cash flow. It is important to think about this before submitting an application.
  12. Demonstrate added value and need for support – give a persuasive argument for grant support. Demonstrate that grant funding is a required, that your project is aligned to grant priorities and there are significant negative impacts if you do not receive the funding.

It is important to remember that most grants fund future projects –  it is crucial that you plan ahead because the majority of grants only fund projects that have not yet started. You should be aware that anything you spend before you are awarded the grant cannot be reclaimed. Think about grants at the same time as planning the project rather than as an afterthought.”

EBRI’s funding events on 7th November and 2nd December are open for bookings. Reserve your free place:

Funding drop in session: 7th November
Funding workshop: 2nd December 

We hope to see you all on the 7th November and the 2nd December and look forward to exploring your project for funding potential.