Do you have a great idea for an application but need some help in making it a reality? If you’re in Scotland, you’re in luck, as this small yet mighty country is a great place to found a startup. Not only are there wonderful, affordable cities with an international outlook perfect for establishing your business, but also a vibrant tech community that offers a great deal of support for entrepreneurs. Here, we’ll share some of our favourite funding and support options for Scottish startups who want to transform their idea into their first MVP, and develop it further from there.
The By Design grant is one that we point a great deal of our potential clients towards — in fact, most of them go on to securing this grant with our support. The grant offers £2000-£5000 to build or improve a product or service, given that you contribute at least 30% of the cost of your project. Building an MVP is one of the examples Scottish Enterprise offers as a good reason for applying for the grant. To qualify for this funding, you must have a registered company or social enterprise in Scotland and be able to demonstrate the benefits of your project. If you need help with this, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us — our Product Design sessions are formulated specifically for tackling issues like this.
The Scottish Microfinance Fund offers small (£500-£25,000) low-interest loans to both new and established companies in Scotland. After going through their simple and quick application progress, the Microfinance Fund are often able to offer support even when other loan providers have been unable to do so. Apart from the Microfinance Fund, its distributor, DSL Business Finance Ltd also offers support for startups in Scotland through consulting, mentoring and financial advice on a variety of topics.
SMART: Scotland offers grants up to £100,000 to small and medium sized enterprises in Scotland. The grants are specifically aimed for the design of new products and the delivery of prototypes. Due to the size of these grants, they might be better suited to scaling up an existing company rather than building your first MVP.
Innovate UK is a government organisation that refers to itself as an ‘innovation agency’. They publish a multitude of funding opportunities available to innovators within the science and technology industries. In the past ten years, Innovate has committed £1.8 billion to innovative companies, and helped create around 70,000 jobs.
This one’s a bit different, as instead of a traditional grant, Scottish Edge is a competition whose aim is to support innovative entrepreneurs. As well as offering funding up to £150,000, they also provide their winners with ongoing support. Additionally, EDGE has a separate category for companies with directors aged 18–30, Young EDGE, which offers grants of up to £10,000. To qualify for any of the Scottish Edge grants, you must have been a trading company for less than five years and be based in Scotland.
Launch.Ed is a service aimed at Edinburgh University students and recent alumni who want to launch their own startup. Their focus is mainly on providing support in the form of mentoring, workshops and access to free legal and financial advice, but in some instances they can also provide some funding for things such as IP protection, prototyping and market research.
Another slightly different option for funding is Crowdcube. This platform allows its users to easily invest in startups they believe in. Companies create a showcase page and individuals are then able to invest anything from £10 in the startups alongside venture capital firms. The crowdfunding platform lets you pitch to 440,000 potential investors, angels and VCs, as well as your friends and family.
In partnership with CodeBase, PwC recently launched the SCALE: Edinburgh initiative in an effort to strengthen Edinburgh’s status as a thriving hub for scale-ups. The 10-week programme will offer participants with business development education as well as support in securing more funding and commercial opportunities. While the programme itself does not include a grant for the participating businesses, the connections it offers will certainly offer many great chances to secure funding. This is another option that is more suited to established companies who are wanting to scale up — as the name of the programme suggests — so if you’re only just starting out with registering your company, some of the other resources listed in this article as well as many of Bad Dinosaur’s services might be more helpful to you.