Business financial support
In need of financial support? Find funding options for new and established businesses plus advice for getting through difficult times.
Whether you're looking for funding to help kick start a new business, need assistance to develop an existing business or experiencing financial difficulties, the following information offers advice on grants, loans and other forms of funding depending on your situation.
COVID-19 business support: for help and support for businesses affected by coronavirus visit Preston City Council - business support COVID-19.
North West Access to Finance Service (help with funding applications)
NW Access to Finance Service is a free service offering one-to-one support with developing business plans, financial forecasts, investment readiness and applications for funding to Lancashire SMEs.
Business start-up funding
The following financial support can help new and early stage businesses looking for start-up assistance:
Start Up Loans
Start Up Loans is a government backed loans scheme offering low-interest personal loans up to £25k to new and early stage businesses who are unable to raise finance from mainstream lenders. The amount you can borrow will be based on your business plan.
For details and how to apply visit Lancashire Community Finance.
Virgin Start Up
Virgin Start Up is a delivery partner for Start Up Loans offering loans from £500 to £25k, plus exclusive offers and opportunities, for new and early stage businesses who have been trading for less than two years.
Start-up worker co-operatives
Are you looking to set up a worker-owned cooperative or convert your existing business into one? University of Central Lancashire in partnership with the Preston Cooperative Development Network is providing start-up technical support to March 2022.
If you wish to apply for the technical support, please write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and request an application form.
Business development funding
The following financial support can provide assistance with growing and developing your business:
Boost Business Lancashire
Boost Business Lancashire is Lancashire's Business Growth Hub offering a range of advice, special programmes and support, including funding and finance options, to help grow Lancashire businesses.
Rosebud offers loans from £10,000 to £300,000 for ambitious growing Lancashire businesses seeking to expand their workforce. The scheme is run by Lancashire County Council (LCC) through Lancashire County Developments Ltd and includes complimentary support and advice tailored to your business needs.
The Internationalisation Fund is designed to support businesses looking to grow their international trade and build back better following the pandemic. Lancashire SMEs can apply for match-funded grants of between £1,000 and £9,000 to support proposed future activities (subject to eligibility). Funding will be prioritised for businesses who can demonstrate they have high export potential.
Manufacturing Growth Fund
Manufacturing Growth Fund offers SME manufacturers expertise to assess business opportunities and barriers to growth in order to make improvement recommendations and identify a suitable consultancy project for grant support where appropriate. Projects with a value of around £15k would attract a 36% grant.
Export Help - Internationalisation Fund from the Department for International Trade
SMEs across Preston and Lancashire looking to expand into new overseas markets can now apply for up to £9,000 of match funding. The funding can be used for help with a range of issues, including market research, IP advice, translation services, international social media and SEO work, trade fairs, independent market visits and consultancy.
For more details contact email@example.com. Closing date for applications: March 2023.
ECO I NW project - help to lower your carbon impact
The ECO I NW project is a £14 million pound ERDF project being headed up by Lancaster University, with support from the University of Central Lancashire, to offer free support for SMEs such as designing and running research and innovation projects to lower carbon impact.
For more details contact Alison Holden (Business Engagement Officer at UCLan) at Aholden11@uclan.ac.uk
Funding Circle offers creditworthy small businesses the chance to borrow £5000 to £500,000 directly from real people in the UK, sidestepping the banks. Lancashire County Council (LCC) has joined forces with Funding Circle and will also lend to eligible local businesses that take out a Funding Circle loan.
For details visit Lancashire County Council - peer to peer lending.
Lancashire Urban Development Fund
Lancashire County Council and the European Regional Development Fund have created the Lancashire Urban Development Fund. The finance, in the form of a repayable secured loan, is to enable the building of new industrial and office development, refurbishment of older industrial stock and to unlock stalled projects.
The fund is managed by Igloo Investment Management. For more details, case studies and how to apply please visit Lancashire Urban Development Fund.
The Preston Business Improvement District Special Projects Fund
Preston city centre's Business Improvement District (BID) has launched a special projects fund, valued at £45,000, for 2022.
The fund is open to groups of businesses, within the BID area, to assist with financial support towards business-led campaigns, events, and initiatives to enhance the city centre.
Applications can be made for assistance towards such things as (examples only, not an exhaustive list):
a) Events and festivals and where it forms part of a promotional programme, which is likely to lead to increased and measurable economic benefit;
b) Alleviating crime or anti-social behaviour;
c) Increased footfall projects, where the applicant should demonstrate innovation and wider community/business involvement impact.
Payments of grants will be for 50% of expenditure incurred up to the maximum amount of grant awarded. So, for example, if an applicant is awarded a grant of £500, that applicant would need to spend £1000 to claim the £500 grant.
Other Funding support
- GOV.UK - Innovation Funding service offers government backed funding to bid for throughout the year for researching and developing processes, products or services, testing innovation ideas and collaborating with other organisations. To search and apply for funding visit GOV.UK - apply for innovation funding.
- Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) can provide funding from £25,000 for small business loans up to £2 million equity funding and is open to start up and established businesses
- Mercia Technologies can provide business finance in all sectors from funding for start-ups to investment for established businesses to assist with growth and development
- Lancashire Community Finance is a Community Development Finance Institution providing loans at fair market rates to individuals and small businesses in Lancashire who can't get help from the banks
- Lancaster University Business funding provide specialist expertise and advice on accessing funding for collaborative projects to enable access the right research, knowledge, people and facilities to improve the competitiveness of your business
- Seedrs is a crowdfunding organisation making it simple for investors to buy into businesses and allowing all types of businesses to raise capital
- The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme enables SMEs to claim up to £3,000 against the cost of full fibre connections direct to businesses for the fastest and most reliable gigabit-capable broadband speeds available
- Making Carbon Work (MaCaW) project can save you money on energy bills by becoming greener and reducing your carbon footprint. Offers include match funded grants up to £15k to purchase low-carbon technology and funding for equipment that demonstrates a carbon saving
- HeadsUp! Digital productivity training offer small business owners up to 10 hours free training worth £1,000 covering finance, marketing, people and time management
- Made Smarter is a government backed initiative designed to improve productivity of North West SME manufacturers through the adoption of Industrial Design Technologies (IDT). The initiative offers match funded grants for investment in technology, skills, software or student placements
- Arts Council England Funding Open - Arts Council England invest in art and culture and are looking for organisations, artists, events, initiatives and others to apply for funding.
- Boost Lancashire - Foreign Owned Company Support - If you are an internationally owned company based in Lancashire, you are entitled to the same business support as any UK registered business. However, you also have access to a dedicated Key Account Manager who can put together a bespoke business support package. The Department for International Trade can help to make your case for investment.
- Lancashire Enterprise Partnership - European Structural Funds - apply to run projects backed by the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF). ESIF includes money from the European Social Fund (ESF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). A number of proposals in different parts of the country can be active at any one time.
Helping businesses through difficult times
GOV.UK offer information around what your options are if you find yourself in financial difficulty, including options for paying off your debts, how to avoid insolvency and how to apply to become bankrupt.
Business Debtline also help any business which has cash flow or debt problems and provides free practical advice to help businesses successfully manage their way through financial difficulties.