Grants and Finance

Financial support to expand your business

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership offers a range of grant and investment funding opportunities that include:

Solent Growth Fund: Capital Investment Fund

Funding on a grant, loan, forward-funding, or equity share basis from £80,000 to £500,000

  • For existing SMEs or start-ups that can demonstrate high growth
  • Funding can only be used to support capital expenditure items
  • For existing SMEs the fund can provide up to 20% of total project costs, for start-ups 40% and businesses experiencing challenging trading conditions up to 40%
  • See the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership website for more details

Solent Innovation Fund

Funding on a grant, loan, forward-funding, or equity share basis from £250,000 to £5,000,000

  • For private or public sector organisations, or private/public partnership
  • Funding can only be used to support capital expenditure items
  • The fund can provide 50% of the total project cost
  • See the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership website for more details

Solent Marine and Maritime SME Growth Fund

Grants of £5,000 – £75,000

  • For existing SMEs or start-ups operating within the marine and maritime sector to create new or protect existing jobs
  • Grants of between £5,000 and £75,000 via a competitive bidding process
  • Funding can only be used to support capital expenditure items
  • Bidders required to invest at least 80% of total project costs (60% for start-ups)
  • Delivered in partnership with British Marine
  • See the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership website for more details

Bridging the Gap Armed Forces Fund

Grants of £5,000 – £75,000

  • For existing SMEs to to create new, or protect existing jobs
  • Applicants must be members of the Armed Forces community.  For clarity this includes service leavers, veterans, spouses, families, reservists and cadets (over 18)
  • Grants of between £5,000 and £75,000 via a competitive bidding process
  • Bidders required to invest at least 80% of the total project costs
  • Delivered in partnership with X-Forces
  • See the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership website for more details

Interested parties are strongly advised to contact the Solent LEP directly for an initial discussion about the funding eligibility for their prospective projects prior to any application being made.  The Solent Growth Hub can also provide further advice and guidance on the available funding, plus assist with applications.

Other sub regional funding

Business Growth Loan of £3,000 to £50,000 from Let’s Do Business Group is aimed at Hampshire based businesses established for 12 months or more that are profitable, growing and looking to expand. Typically, the applicant should be contributing at least 25% of the total investment required from their own funds and must have been declined by a bank or other mainstream business lender.

For information on other available funding see the Solent Growth Hub website or contact one of their Navigators on 01329 820898 for more advice.

Nationally available funds

Funding schemes include:


  • Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme (EFG) If you are seeking loan facilities of between £1,000 and £1 million EFG can help if you can’t get a normal loan because because of a lack of security. The government provides lenders with a partial guarantee for money they lend you

Research and Development (R&D)

  • Research and Development Relief If your company is eligible you can potentially obtain tax relief of between £1 – £1 million that can either reduce your company’s tax bill or provide a cash sum. It is based on your company’s expenditure on R&D.  Gosport based Selden Masts secured a rebate worth tens of thousands of pounds in 2014 as a result of the R&D it undertakes to develop and improve its products
  • Innovate UK If you want to develop an innovative product or service, you may be able to apply for funding of between £25,000 and £10m.  Innovate UK runs funding competitions that are open for projects led by any UK based companies to test feasibility of ideas; create a new product, process or service, or improve an existing one through R&D; and/or work with other businesses or research organisations on collaborative projects
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships You can get funding of around £80,000 to innovate within your business.  KTPs will help you work with a research organisation and a recently qualified graduate

International Trade

  • Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) – if you are attending an overseas trade event you may be eligible for a grant of £1,500 to £2,500 towards your exhibiting costs (not travel and accommodation)
  • Export Working Capital Scheme – helps you gain access to working capital finance by the Government providing partial guarantees to banks


  • Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) If you need to recruit new staff as part of your growth plans the £1,500 AGE is for businesses employing 16 to 24 year-old apprentices from the Apprenticeship programme, who have never employed an apprentice or have not done so in the last 12 months.  As well as this apprenticeship wage subsidy scheme, the government contributes towards the costs of training a young apprentice as follows: 100% coverage of training costs for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and 50% per cent coverage for those aged 19 to 24

Further information

For background information on funding see the Government’s Great Business website and Growing Your Business Guide that includes:

Other useful links (some may require registration)

  • provides information on all the latest European grants, UK Government grants and other sources of funding to help start and grow your business.
  • Better Business Finance provides impartial information and support to business customers looking to raise finance.
  • Business Finance for You brings into one place a wide range of finance providers across Britain – including business angels, regional funds, government schemes and banks.
  • Finding Finance is the Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) website. CDFIs are non-profit organisations that lend money to individuals, businesses, social enterprises and charities who can use the money to help and develop their local community.
  • The Next Generation Finance Consortium is a new platform where entrepreneurs can find full range of opportunities from crowdfunding to Venture Capital investment. The consortium offers guidance on alternative financing, practical workshops and information events, as well as business support match-making service.
  • Business Angels is an independent site providing funding and mentoring to entrepreneurs. It was designed to allow UK entrepreneurs access to top Business Angels without having to pay a fee. All Business Angels on this site have personally made more than £100M as an entrepreneur and have invested in over 10 businesses.

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