Top tips to consider when making a grant application

As a start-up business, you need to acknowledge that it is imperative to have a plan to secure finance to power each business growth stage. Nick Allott, CEO of nquiringminds, explained to our Catalyst Centre tenants what should be considered when considering grants as a funding source and we thought this was excellent advice to share. Here’s a list of questions to challenge your thinking.

Project Plan

  • What is the technical approach/method? (i.e. is this hardware, software, mathematical, engineering?)
  • Summarise briefly rival approaches/technologies and why you have decided to take the approach that you have.
  • Are you using known technology or inventing new?
  • What are the key milestones in the project and when will they happen?

Financial Commitment

  • What is the cost of the project and how much are you asking for in the grant?
  • How much are you putting in yourself and where is this money coming from?
  • What is the budget breakdown?
  • How does the budget requested relate to the project plan?

Financial Support

  • What is the evidence or assurance you can give that the project will increase your general spend in R&D?
  • Why can’t you fund the project yourself from your own resources?
  • Why can’t you get a bank loan or attract investors and what effort has been made so far to do this?
  • If you get funding how will you then deliver the project differently?

Business Opportunity

  • Briefly outline the idea from a business opportunity perspective and what the project team needs to do successfully to address it within the desired timeframe and cost
  • Describe the nature of the problems and/or issues facing you and/or your potential customers and how the intended outputs of the project will address these problems and issues.
  • What are the needs of customers or your business/sector/region that are currently challenged by the problem?
  • How will your grant solve this problem and meet the region/customer/business’s needs?

Size of Market

  • What is the size of the current market that this solution applies to?
  • What is the potential growth of this market expected to be generally?
  • How have you verified there is potential market demand for your idea/product? How?
  • Are there any main competitors and, if so, how does their model work compared you yours?
  • What do you expect your market share to be in light of competition and potential market growth?
  • How will you gain and grow your market share?


  • What will need to happen to make sure you can commercialise/complete the necessary research and development? (e.g. protection of intellectual property rights, reconfiguration of the value system, changes to business models and business processes and other methods of exploitation and protection)
  • What will the impact of a successful project/product be on your business and over what timescale do you expect things to happen?
  • What is the potential return on investment?
  • How will you transfer any knowledge, learnings or general outputs from the project to others who might benefit?

Economic Opportunities

  • Who else outside of the business itself will benefit from this project?
  • Could it improve export capability or the UK economy in some way?
  • How will you make sure the benefits above happen?
  • Is there a social impact? (i.e. impacts on people’s health or education, ability to do things or own things personally that they don’t already have? Does the project improve diversity or quality of life?)
  • Is there an environmental benefit? (i.e. reduction in carbon impact or footprint, shortening of distribution impact, less toxic waste, or manufacturing benefits?)


  • What are the key risks? Why are they are important and how will you mitigate them?
  • How will you make sure that risks will be managed and who is responsible for this?
  • How will you manage subcontractor relationships if they are part of the project?

Thanks again to Nick for giving us his insight into applications for funding and grants.

To find out more about nquiringminds, head to their website: