March 24, 2023

The UK business loans and grants available for startups

Searching for loans or grants designed to support startups in the UK? Look no further: here's a bumper list of the ones on offer

Jessica Rawnsley

10 min read

London skyline at dusk

There are heaps of grants and business loans available for startups in the UK. These can be handy at all stages, but are particularly useful for giving founders a helping hand in the early days of running a startup.

While grants are typically non-repayable and can focus on a specific sector, loans must be repaid under agreed terms.  

Sifted has compiled an extensive list of business loans and grants available for startups in the UK. Because grants typically have a more specific focus, they’ve been divided by sector where relevant. Loans have been split between general and more specific regional loans across the UK.


Have we missed an obvious one out? Let us know here.

UK grants for startups


UK-Germany bilateral: collaborative research and development, Innovate UK

Closes June 7, 2023

  • For: UK-registered organisations collaborating with at least one German SME applying under the equivalent German ZIM programme. 
  • Terms: Among other things, you must have an innovative idea that will result in new products, processes or services being created; a financial plan and timeline; and reasons for why the involvement of businesses from both nations is essential. Max funding request of £400k for UK partners. Projects to last between 12-36 months. UK partners must carry out most of their work in the UK.

Innovate UK Smart grants, Innovate UK

Closes June 14, 2023

  • For: Businesses developing commercially viable R&D innovations in any area of technology — net zero, the arts, design and media, for example.
  • Terms: All work must be carried out in the UK. Must include at least one SME as the lead grant claiming partner. For projects lasting 6-18 months, total costs must be between £100k-500k. For those lasting 19-26 months, costs must be between £100k-2m and be collaborative.

UK-Switzerland Bilateral: Collaborative R&D, Innovate UK & Innosuisse

Opens April 17, 2023. Closes July 26, 2023

  • For: UK-registered businesses in collaboration with a Swiss registered company.
  • Terms: The advantages of the cross-border collab must be clear, eg. increased innovation capability, commercial leads or access to R&D infrastructure. Must partner with at least one Swiss business and involve at least one research technology organisation from either country. Total grant funding request must not exceed £400k.

Women in Innovation, Innovate UK 

Rolling entry

  • For: Up to 50 women entrepreneurs in the UK.
  • Terms: Must demonstrate the ability to make a significant contribution to a pressing societal, environmental or economic challenge through innovation. Includes cash injection of £50k, 12 months mentoring and networking.

SMART: Scotland, Scottish Enterprise

Rolling entry

  • For: R&D projects developing technological innovations for UK industry.
  • Terms: Funding is to support feasibility studies that show how an idea could work in the real world. Available for SMEs based in Scotland. Must be financially viable and have a commercial goal. Max grant of £100k for studies lasting 6-18 months. 

Regional Selective Assistance funding, Scottish Enterprise

Rolling entry

  • For: Projects that will create jobs and a greener economy in Assisted Areas in Scotland — areas identified as in need of financial aid.
  • Terms: Must be financially viable and align with net zero ambitions. Minimum grant of £100k. Project must last 6-36 months. Business does not need to be based in Scotland but projects must take place there.

Climate tech

UK Battery Industrialisation Centre SME credit, Innovate UK

Closes April 4, 2023

  • For: SMEs aiming to scale up battery technologies in the UK.
  • Terms: Innovations must be technically-proven (TRL) 5 or above and ready for commercial capability. Total costs between £100k-1.1m to last 12 months. All work must be carried out in the UK. Material costs not covered. 

ISCF SSPP collecting flexible plastic packaging waste at home, Innovate UK

Closes April 12, 2023

  • For: UK-registered businesses developing innovative solutions for the collection of  flexible packaging waste from households. 
  • Terms: Open to single applicants. Fund requests between £25k-50k. Must last between three and six months. Project work must be carried out in the UK. Not suitable for organisations developing alternative packaging materials.

Hydrogen storage and distribution supply chain collaborative R&D, Innovate UK

Closes April 26, 2023

  • For: UK businesses working on hydrogen storage and the distribution supply chain. 
  • Terms: Open to collaborations only. Companies must be UK registered. Collaborators must involve at least one grant claiming SME. Total costs up to £1m to last up to 18 months. All work to be carried out in the UK.

Sustainable bio-based materials and manufacture, Innovate UK, BBSRC, EPSRC

Closes May 3, 2023

  • For: Collaborative research and development projects working to improve sustainable biomanufacturing in the UK.
  • Terms: Each project is eligible for £300k-1m. Must be a collaboration between UK-registered businesses, academic institutions or research and technology organisations.

Novel low-emission food production systems, Innovate UK

Opens May 8, 2023. Closes July 5, 2023

  • For: UK SMEs creating novel production systems for resource efficient, low-emission foods.
  • Terms: Projects must advance novel food production systems towards commercial viability. Open to single applicants only. Must be a UK-registered SME. Must be seeking private financing of at least twice the amount requested (fund includes a selected pool of interested investor partners). Total costs between £750k-3m.

CO2 Utilisation Challenge, Scottish Enterprise

Closes March 31, 2024

  • For: Companies developing technology that will lead to new commercial uses for CO2 and the creation of jobs.
  • Terms: Projects may use chemical, biological reactions or mineralisation to transform CO2 into a product or component with commercial value. Grants of £150k-500k. Companies must be based in Scotland. Not suitable for projects with a strong focus on carbon capture technology.

Green Heat Innovation Support Programme, Scottish Enterprise 

Closes March 2026

  • For: Companies working on green heating solutions and associated products. Areas include: energy efficiency products, green heat equipment (heat pumps, heat networks), supporting solutions (thermal storage), enabling solutions (digital and smart controls) and green heat manufacturing or R&D in Scotland.
  • Terms: Various levels of support available depending on projects. Range of £30k-50k. Companies based in Scotland or looking to invest in Scotland. 


Made smarter innovation: industry ready robotics and automation, Innovate UK

Closes April 5, 2023

  • For: Late-stage robotics and automation projects for manufacturing processes in factories. 
  • Terms: Collaborations only. UK-registered companies. Total costs between £200k-4m. Projects must last 9-15 months and involve at least one factory, be applicable to at least one manufacturing sector and carry out all work in the UK.

SBRI: Quantum-enabled positioning, navigation and timing systems, Innovate UK

Closes April 12, 2023

  • For: Businesses developing quantum-enabled systems for positioning, navigation, timing and quantum-enabled sensors for navigation applications, such as magnetic or gravity field sensors.
  • Terms: £2m-7m available for projects lasting up to 18 months. All work must be carried out in the UK and led by a UK-registered organisation. 

NHS Future Hospitals Initiative, UK Space Agency & European Space Agency 

Closes September 30, 2023

  • For: Solutions exploiting space technologies to benefit the NHS ecosystem. Projects may include products and services addressing logistics, improved patient reach, space-derived diagnostic tools, diagnostic collaboration networks or services for improving environmental impacts.
  • Terms: Project length and funding amount variable depending on proposal.

ESA Business Applications’ Call for Proposals, European Space Agency, closing dates vary by project.


DASA Open Call for Innovation, Gov UK Defence and Security Accelerator 

Rolling entry

  • For: Innovative ideas to improve defence or security of the UK: a concept, technology or service. 
  • Terms: Funds of £100k-350k. Project must be completed by March 2024.

Business loans for startups in the UK

General loans

Start Up Loan, British Business Bank, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Rolling entry

  • For: Individuals who want to start or grow a business in the UK.
  • Terms: UK citizens only. Each partner in the business can apply for up to £25k, with £100k available per startup. No collateral must be put forward to cover the loan but the application requires an assessment of credit history, personal income sources, a business plan and cash flow forecast. Business must be UK-based, and be either a new business or trading for less than 36 months. Unsecured loans from £500-£25k with a fixed interest rate of 6% per annum. Repayment period of one to five years.

Enterprise programme for young people, The Prince’s Trust, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Rolling entry

  • For: Young people who want to set up a business in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
  • Terms: Any industry. Loans of £1,000-5,000. Available for individuals aged 18-30 who are either unemployed or working less than 16 hours a week. Not viable for individuals who are on a gap year, have graduated from an undergraduate degree less than six months prior or have a postgraduate degree or professional qualification. Max nine employees. 

Innovation loans, Innovate UK

Rolling entry

  • For: UK businesses of all sizes to help advance new technologies, develop ideas and move towards commercial success. May fit with an Industrial Strategy area (artificial intelligence and data, ageing society, clean growth, future mobility) or be any other type of innovation or technology project.
  • Terms: Innovation loans of £100k-£1m. For UK-based SMEs only.

Regional loans

ART Business Loans, West Midlands

Rolling entry

  • For: Small businesses and social enterprises based in the West Midlands that can’t get all the funding they need from their bank. Loan can be used for any business purpose including asset purchase and working capital.
  • Terms: £10k-150k available for startups (one to two years trading). Maximum 249 employees. 

Business Enterprise Fund, northeast England

Rolling entry

  • For: SMEs in Yorkshire and the northeast.
  • Terms: £500-250k available for startups (1-2 years trading). Business must have been turned down by high street banks and be based in North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, north Lincolnshire or northeast England. Max 249 employees. Not for past debts.

Finance For Enterprise, South Yorkshire and North Midlands

Rolling entry

  • For: New, early-stage and established businesses across South Yorkshire and the North Midlands. Loans may be used for capital, cash flow and gap funding for growth and development projects.
  • Terms: Loans of £1,000-250k. Max 249 employees. 

First Enterprise — Enterprise Loans, East and Southeast Midlands

Rolling entry

For: Startups and businesses across the East and southeast Midlands. Funding available for things like developing new markets, moving a product or service to market and financial planning and advice.

Terms: Loans of £500-250k. Available for disadvantaged groups including unemployed, people with low-incomes and ethnic minorities.

Invest to Grow, East Midlands

Rolling entry

  • For: Businesses across the East Midlands.
  • Terms: Grants and loans of £15k-£250k. Not suitable for B2C companies or those in professional services, farm-based agriculture or retail. 

Investment Fund, North of England

  • For: SMEs in the North West, Yorkshire, the Humber and Tees Valley. Suitable for IT, digital and creative, manufacturing, science and technology and service industries.
  • Terms: £25k-2m available. Max 249 employees.

Key Fund, Midlands and the North of England

Rolling entry

  • For: Social enterprises in the North of England and Midlands to boost community, economic or environmental impact. 
  • Terms: Any industry. Available for restoring buildings, buying equipment or meeting startup costs. £5,000-300k available. Max 249 employees. Must be located in the East Midlands, northeast, northwest, West Midlands, Yorkshire or the Humber.

Low Carbon Innovation Fund 2, East of England

Rolling entry

  • For: SMEs from any industry to help lower their carbon output. 
  • Terms: £25k-£1m. Must be matched by private sources of funding (help can be provided for this).

GC Business Finance, Northwest England, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Rolling entry

  • For: Startups based in Greater Manchester and the northwest.
  • Terms: Suitable for individuals looking to begin a business, early stage and established businesses that have been unable to get mainstream finance. Unsecured business loans from £500-300k. 

BCRS Business Loans, West Midlands

  • For: SMEs from any industry.
  • Terms: £10k-150k available for startups (1-2 years trading). Business must be located in the West Midlands, including Gloucestershire. Must show evidence that business has been unable to get bank funding. Repayment period of one to seven years. Maximum 250 employees.

Greater London Investment Fund

Rolling entry

  • For: Startups and established businesses in any industry looking to grow in the Greater London area. Any industry. 
  • Terms: Must be a viable business proposal from a business unable to obtain funding from the private sector, due to a lack of collateral or track record. Funds to be used for growth, such as sales and marketing, hiring new staff, product development or entering new markets. Loans of £100k-1.5m.  Must be registered as a limited company.

PNE Enterprise, business support service, Northeast England

Rolling entry

  • For: Businesses of all stages in Tyneside, Northumberland or County Durham. 
  • Terms: Max 250 employees.

SWIG Finance, Southwest of England

Rolling entry

  • For: Startups and established businesses in the areas of Cornwall, Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Any industry. 
  • Terms: Loans of £25k-250k. 

Tees Valley Catalyst Fund, Northeast England

Rolling entry

  • For: Businesses based in the northeast of England 
  • Terms: Loans of £100k-2m. Limit of £4m in any 36-month period. Companies may apply more than once. Business must be based in northeast, including: County Durham, Darlington, Gateshead, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton on Tees, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Ryedale or Scarborough.

Scottish Growth Scheme

Rolling entry

  • For: SMEs across Scotland 
  • Terms: Debt or loan finance up to £250k. Equity finance up to £2m.

UMi Debt Finance Scotland Ltd

Rolling entry

  • For: SMEs across Scotland
  • Terms: Loans of £25k-250k. Three-year repayment plans. Interest rates range between 6.5-15%.

Northern Ireland Business Support Finder

This database lists publicly-funded sources of business assistance for businesses at all stages and in all industries, including financial assistance and advice services.

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Jessica Rawnsley

Jessica Rawnsley is a freelance writer. Find her on LinkedIn or Twitter