How research and development grants could help you pivot as the cost of doing business rises

Facing increasing operating costs, some SME owners are pausing investment in research and development. But grants that support innovation can still help companies grow or pivot.

Some organisations that offer support for research and development include:


Although grants are not intended to support businesses facing financial hardship as the cost of living crisis continues, they can help companies by enabling growth during these challenging economic times.

There are many different grants awarded by local and national government departments and independent funding organisations to businesses in nearly every sector.

If your business is eligible for a grant, bear in mind that the application process takes time, and grants shouldn’t be considered a ‘quick fix’ to pressing cash-flow issues. If your business is facing financial hardship, it’s best to talk to your bank or a qualified financial adviser.

Some organisations that offer support for research and development include:

  • R&D tax credits
  • Green  projects
  • Local or regional grants
  • Revenue-based grants
  • Capital investment grants


You can check if your business might be eligible for a grant by using this grant finder tool from our partner, Swoop Funding.

Speaking on a recent episode of the Business Show Piers Lawford, our Scale Accelerator Manager, commented “There are so many options out there, and they don’t necessarily stop during challenging times,” he said. “Keep an eye on them to see if there are any you might be eligible for.”

Research and development funding in the UK regions

A good starting point for businesses seeking grant funding is one of the 38 regional Growth Hubs set up to boost local economies in England. Links to these can be found on the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) Network website.

In Scotland, grants are available from local councils, Scottish Enterprise and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Check the Scottish government’s funding advice page for more information.

In Wales, the Business Wales finance locator can help you look for grant options, and offers help with the application process.

And in Northern Ireland, Invest NI has a number of different options, including R&D grants of up to £50,000, innovation vouchers worth £5,000, and its technical development incentive (TDI) of up to £10,000 per application. Invest NI is also partnered with Innovate UK and that body’s grants and loans are open to applicants in Northern Ireland as well as those in England, Scotland and Wales.

Should you pivot your business?

As well as applying for a research and development grant, pivoting your business to accommodate recent changes in the economy could help during tough periods.

As an example, many restaurants survived the Covid-19 pandemic by launching food delivery services which enhanced their business models and provided a new source of revenue in the process.

Lawford said: “If you’re potentially facing hard times, ask yourself: ‘Do I need to pivot slightly because of these challenging times?’”

A tough economy doesn’t necessarily only bring difficulties for you and your business; there might be opportunities as well, he added..

“Try to approach with a growth mindset to position your business in the best place possible to take advantage of any challenges that you are facing,” he said.

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