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Covid-19 support for start-ups and early stage businesses in Scotland

Outlook iconStart-ups and early stage businesses with high growth potential whose routes to investment and achieving growth have been impacted by Covid-19 will be supported by the Scottish Government (SG).

On 10 July 2020 the SG announced a £38m package of support for entrepreneurs and innovators which includes three levels of support:

(1) £3m will be allocated as grants of up to £50k plus advisor support for start-ups identified as having the most significant potential to grow and attract future investment.

This fund is targeted at pre-seed businesses i.e. start-ups that are not yet ready to receive investment.

(2) A competitive £25m Early Stage Growth Challenge Fund to provide successful applicants with a mix of grant and investment funding up to a maximum of £300k.

This support will help equity-backed businesses to continue innovating through the pandemic and bridge the gap to their next investment round. The fund will open to applications on Monday 20 July and will close on Friday 31 July.

The Early Stage Growth Challenge Fund is competitive fund where all applications will be assessed and graded with the highest graded applicants receiving funding. The fund will not be delivered on a first come, first served basis. Successful applicants will receive a convertible loan and a grant (subject to eligible costs) for up to 20% of the total award.

(3) An additional £10m for Scottish Enterprise’s existing Scottish Investment Bank co-investment funds to help stimulate private investment and support businesses that need more significant levels of funding to grow rapidly.

Find out more about the support fund and what you will need to consider before applying on the Scottish Government's and Scottish Enterprise's websites:


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Innovate UK coronavirus business support

Continuity loans, business advice and support are also available from Innovate UK to support Scottish businesses deal with the impact of the pandemic. 

As well as supporting existing Innovate UK award recipients, subject to status and demand, Innovate UK is also funding new projects through 'fast start' grants and 'Survive-Stabilise-Grow' business advisory support services.

The latter will be a package of support that will be tailored to the needs of the individual SME and is centred on three phases of support which companies might need due to Covid-19:

  • Survive - help to address short term challenges (0-2 months) faced by the business, both survival and rapid growth.
  • Stabilise - help to ensure medium term (3-6 months) stability of the business and to build resilience and plan for growth.
  • Grow - longer term (7-12 months) support to help to get the business back on track to realise their longer term growth objectives.

If you are already working with Innovate UK EEN Innovation and Growth adviser, then it is likely that the Adviser will have been in touch with you to discuss the above support. 

If you haven't been contacted and/or you haven't received Innovate UK funding in the past and wish to be put in contact with an adviser to find out more about accessing the support you can complete the application form online or by calling 0300-123-3144 to discuss with an adviser.

Further details on the Innovate UK support can be found here:

Euan Ferries 16 rsIf you are interested in applying for support and would like to discuss the various options, then please get in touch with Euan Ferries, Corporate Finance Associate or your usual adviser at Martin Aitken >get in touch 

Additional funding and support measures have already been announced by the UK and Scottish Governments. You can read more about each of the support schemes, the eligibility criteria and how to apply on the following pages:

A summary and support finder tool in Scotland is available here:


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Summer Statement 2020
Update Covid-19 Support: Changes to CJRS and SEISS