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 you establish with your innovation and growth specialist that securing funding and finance is pivotal to your growth, we can help you to develop an approach along with an action plan. And we can help you identify regional and national connections to help you realise your ambitions.
Equity finance is often an appropriate way to unleash game-changing growth for innovation-focused companies. Below we describe in detail how we support our clients with this need, in particular with their investment readiness.
This is followed by information on common sources of funding and finance: You may decide with your specialist’s input that grants or loans, such as Innovate UK Innovation Loans, are more appropriate for your strategy, or that your appeal to investors would benefit from having secured such funds. Your specialist will help you to identify how to proceed, drawing on their extensive knowledge of the options.
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.
All clients benefit from one-to-one support from an designated innovation and growth specialist. Our specialists are well equipped to help innovation-focused businesses establish an approach to investment that realises their growth potential.
Where equity finance is essential to that approach, you will go onto our investment readiness support pathway, Invest-ability (or the The Scaleup Programme, for specialised support around Series A fundraising and beyond).
Invest-ability 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.
When embarking on Invest-ability, your specialist will conduct a deeper dive to provide you with a clear perspective on priority areas to address and help identify relevant further connections and opportunities.
You will also have the opportunity to register for Invest-ability's structured training and The Pitch Panel, which focuses on pitching. Your specialist will help you prepare for these initiatives and exploit them fully in the context of the Invest-ability investment readiness pathway.
Invest-ability's intensive training
Invest-ability includes (but cannot be reduced to) our rigorous, structured training in the fundamentals of investment readiness. The training component includes invaluable constructive feedback from investors, input from our own investment champions and high calibre external expertise.
Throughout the training, you will receive support from your designated innovation and growth specialist, to ensure you derive the maximum benefit from our multi-faceted support.
At any one time, we have a limited number of places on the Invest-ability intensive training component, to register for which you supply further pertinent information.
If you do not enter on to the training, 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.
You will be invited to register for The Pitch Panel by your innovation and growth specialist and you will then be asked to supply supply further pertinent information.
At any one time, we have a limited number of places on Pitch Panels and if you do not enter on to a Pitch Panel event, 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 round.
Clients on Invest-ability 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.
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. 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.
- Innovate UK Innovation Loans
- Angel Investors
- Equity Crowdfunding
- Grant Funding for R&D
- Growth Capital
- Private Equity
- Venture Capital
- Asset Finance
- Export Capital
- Initial Public Offering (IPO)
- Peer to Peer Lending
- Start-up Loans
- Reward-based Crowdfunding
- Term Loans
- Trade Finance
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.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
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.
A term loan is a lump sum of capital that you pay back at a fixed interest rate.
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 EDGE 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