An insight into securing finance for business

nquiringminds CEO, Nick Allott and Alan Scrase, Centre Manager of SetSquared Southampton led the fifth seminar for our 2015 cohort of budding entrepreneurs on the topic of how best to go about securing finance for business.

If you’re an entrepreneur with a small business, finance is likely to be your biggest concern. There are countless options for securing finance, each with their own set of criteria. Alan gave an overview of these options, which included: borrowing from the bank and start-up loan schemes; personal overdrafts and investment capital from friends and family; and deposits and pre orders from customers. We will be focusing on grants which are subsidies given by grant-giving bodies or funders which provide finance for specified activities. These are often match-funded and offer businesses the opportunity to undertake projects which are vital to their growth, such as research and development, employing staff and general resources.

The most relevant grants available to Catalyst Centre tenants or similar businesses in the science and technology field are likely to be those provided by InnovateUK which have a number of different awards and grant schemes. In particular, Alan emphasised the importance of its SMART awards which fall into three categories: proof of market, proof of concept and pre-production prototype. Catalyst companies, Tidal Harness and Utonomy have already successfully won an award of this type.

InnovateUK fund, support and connect innovative businesses to accelerate sustainable economic growth. Since 2007 it has invested over £1.5 billion in innovation, matched by a further £1.5 billion in partner and business funding. This has helped more than 5,000 innovative companies with projects estimated to have added £7.5 billion to the UK economy and created 35,000 extra new jobs. For more information on InnovateUK and how they can help you, visit their website: https://interact.innovateuk.org

Grant applications need to be put together by the business founders and/or their employees. Alan pointed out that when applying for grants many companies are unaware of the benefit of getting help from people who have judged applications in the past. One word of warning however: Nick stressed that grant and funding applications shouldn’t distract you from making sales. After all, the most important thing in business is creating sales at each business stage.

Steve Khoo, CEO of Tidal Harness, Catalyst Centre tenant, commented: “Alan and Nick demystified the funding options and grant application process in a witty and eloquent way. Laurence Pearce, of xim also shared his practical experiences, which made this seminar very useful.”

Angus Webb, CEO of Dynamon, added: “It was really helpful to spend time talking about grant funding. Besides early revenue, Dynamon is targeting grant funding to develop our vehicle data analytics capability so the Fuel Saving Platform concept can be brought to market sooner. Our grant funding would be used to hire a software developer and a mechanical engineer, both of which we are currently looking for.”

Adam Kingdom, CEO of Utonomy commented: “Navigating all the different types of grant funding is not easy but Alan and Nick made the picture much clearer, explaining the motivations behind each of the different grant providers. They also gave invaluable practical advice on filling out the daunting application forms and explaining what was behind each question.”

Nick Allott, CEO of nquiringminds, said: “It was good to see the new Catalyst companies looking to move the companies to the next level. As with many such initiatives, the seminar proved these companies can learn as much from each other as from the various experts dotted around the campus.”

We would like to thank both Alan and Nick for taking time out from their busy schedule and for sharing their pearls of wisdom about securing finance. To find out more about nquiringminds, head to their website: http://nquiringminds.com. For more information on SetSquared Southampton and how they can help you: http://bit.ly/1FULrG3

In our next blog, we will be discussing what questions need to be answered when you are considering applying for grants.