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Funding and finance: taking a strategic approach

Grow and scale your business by accessing the right finance and funding for you, and becoming investment ready.
Finance, funding, investment

Securing funding and finance ranks alongside entering new markets and managing innovation effectively as a key priority for fast-growing, innovative businesses that ultimately want to scale.

If securing funding and finance is pivotal to your growth, our Innovation and Growth Specialists can help you to develop an approach and understand the options available to you. And we can help you identify regional and national connections to realise your ambitions.

Success stories:

Please take a look at what our funding and finance support meant to our clients Dataqube, which raised €26M and Akrivia Health which raised around $12M in Series A funding. 


Finance: Investment

Equity finance is often an appropriate way to unleash game-changing growth for innovation-focused companies. Our specialists are well equipped to help innovation-focused businesses establish an approach to investment that realises their growth potential and support them on that journey through our Invest-ability Pathway.

Alongside tailored one-to-one support from your Innovation and Growth Specialist, you may also be suitable to take part in our Invest-ability training or a Pitch Panel. Your specialist will help you prepare for these initiatives and exploit them fully.


Invest-Ability intensive training

Invest-Ability training provides rigorous, structured training in the fundamentals of investment readiness, as well as the opportunity to practice your pitch with your peers and an investor panel. The training includes invaluable constructive feedback from investors, input from our own investment champions and high calibre external expertise.

Invest-Ability training is unique in its intensive and extended approach to working with innovation-focused companies looking to raise a minimum of £500k over two years and with a minimum of £100k in income from either grants, investment or revenue.

Your Innovation and Growth Specialist will be able to provide you with more information about dates and how to complete an expression of interest. At any one time, we have a limited number of places on Invest-Ability intensive training, and if you are not accepted you have the option of submitting for participation in a future round.


The Pitch Panel

The Pitch Panel offers exposure to real investors for constructive and confidence-building feedback on your pitch, as part of the Invest-ability investment readiness pathway. Typically it is for companies who already have a strong investor pitch, or who have a specific need to focus on pitching. Pitch Panels focus on certain sectors and are a mix of in-person and virtual events.

You will be invited to register for The Pitch Panel by your innovation and growth specialist and you will then be asked to supply further pertinent information.

At any one time, we have a limited number of places on Pitch Panels and if you are not accepted, you will still continue to receive support from your innovation and growth specialist around investment and investment readiness and have the option of submitting for participation in a future event.


Post investment support

Clients who receive investment can also benefit from the right post-investment support from their innovation and growth specialist to equip them for onward travel to corporate finance, M&A and IPOs, capitalising on our close relationships with partners such as the London Stock Exchange.

You may also be suitable for The Scaleup Programme, for specialised support around Series A fundraising and beyond.


Funding and finance options

We have collated below a list of common funding and finance options, including grant funding or non-equity sources of finance. You may decide with your specialist's input that grants or loans, such as Innovate UK Innovation Loans, are a more appropriate strategy, or that your appeal to investors would benefit from having secured such funds. The options could be applicable to any client that we help to develop a strategic approach to funding and finance. Your innovation and growth specialist will help you navigate them.

Please note that we do not write grant bids for clients and are not part of the Innovate UK team delivering grant awards.

Please also visit our partner, the British Business Bank, to find further information on finance options and providers of support and finance near you.

  1. Angel Investors
  2. Asset Finance
  3. Equity Crowdfunding
  4. Export Capital
  5. Grant Funding for R&D
  6. Growth Capital
  7. Initial Public Offering (IPO)
  8. Innovate UK Innovation Loans
  9. Innovate UK Investor Partnerships
  10. Peer to Peer Lending
  11. Private Equity
  12. Reward-based Crowdfunding
  13. Start-up Loans
  14. Term Loans
  15. Trade Finance
  16. Venture Capital


Innovate UK Innovation Loans

Loans for innovation projects to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) scale up and grow, focusing on late-stage research and development (R&D) projects with a clear path to commercialisation. £150 million has been approved for continuation of the innovation loans programme over three years post 2022 and they are typically for £100,000 to £2 million.

Innovate UK Investor Partnerships

This programme brings together Innovate UK's use of grant funding, and investor partners' aligned funding and expertise.

Its aim is to stimulate research and development in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, while accelerating equity investment into those companies so that they can grow more rapidly through innovation. 

Angel Investors

Angel investment is suitable for early-stage businesses with a clear growth strategy and business plan. Business angels will invest their time, money and resources in exchange for a share in your company.

Equity Crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding gives you access to a group of investors with diverse backgrounds and experience. Individual investors will apply for a share of your early-stage business.

Grant Funding for R&D

Grant funding often comes from government agencies, research councils and Growth Hubs. A prime source of grant funding for innovation-focused businesses is Innovate UK.

Grants can provide funding for innovation projects or for specific topics or themes. An R&D grant could help your business develop a new product, process or service and get it to market. Such R&D funding can also support companies to test and de-risk ideas without the requirement for repayment.

Although you will not have to repay the grant, grant funding often comes with specific conditions. If you are applying for grant funding, you will need to understand the eligibility criteria and application process to ensure your innovation project complies.

Discover essential questions to ask before applying for innovation funding here.

Growth Capital

Growth capital allows your business to accelerate growth by entering new markets, developing new products or investing in technology. This option is suited to growth stage businesses with evidence of year on year growth and may take the form of venture capital or private equity.

Private Equity

Private equity finance is suitable for growth stage businesses with potential for accelerated growth. This medium to long term investment is made in exchange for equity in the business and often involves larger sums of money.

Venture Capital

Venture capitalists will invest in your business in return for equity shares to help it grow. This type of finance is suitable for early-stage businesses looking for a flexible option to scale quickly.

Asset Finance

Asset finance takes physical assets, such as equipment, as security for lending. This type of lending could work for a growth stage business with assets of value looking for a cash flow injection.

Export Capital

Export finance reduces some of the risk of exporting and trading abroad. Export capital can include bonds, guarantees, letters of credit or working capital loans. An option for UK businesses looking to enter new overseas markets.

Initial Public Offering

An Initial Public Offering (IPO) is when a privately owned business sells shares to the public for the first time. This allows growth stage businesses and scale-ups to raise significant funds.

Peer to Peer Lending

Peer to Peer lending comes from individuals, businesses and institutions as an alternative to bank loans. Borrowers and lenders are matched via online platforms. Suitable for growth stage businesses looking for quick access to finance whilst retaining control of the business.

Start-up Loans

Start-up loans can help new and seed stage businesses get set up for trading. This is a personal loan for business owners who have not been able to secure finance from traditional lenders.

Reward-based Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding, or reward-based crowdfunding offers rewards in exchange for investment from individuals through online platforms such as Kickstarter. This provides an alternative to debt or equity investment, but it can be difficult to reach your funding target.

Term Loans

A term loan is a lump sum of capital that you pay back at a fixed interest rate.

Trade Finance

Trade finance is commonly used for international trade, in which the lender pays for goods which are security for the advance. It can be used to protect against currency fluctuations, political instability and other external factors.

What our clients say about us

"Innovate UK has been very supportive all the way through, helping review grant material and our Series A funding round, for example ... I really value the engagement and support we’ve received."

David Newton, Chief Operating Officer, Akrivia Health

> $12m raise helps mental health data firm expand


"The sessions were so useful ... Pantea was very good at listening, asking questions and then gently pushing you in the right direction."

Tim Williams, Commercial Director, DataQube Global

> Investment-ready data centre developer succeeds in €26m raise

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Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. Learn about how we can help you achieve your innovation goals.