Funding Advice

Access the resources you need to grow your business

Accessing funding and finance to foster business growth is crucial for food and drink companies. Connect Local will be bringing you the latest information on this subject, from both public and private sources, and will be updated here and via our twitter channel.

If you have any questions at all, please contact the team on ; 01224 711 044.

We are continually updating this page, so please check back soon for more information.

Scottish Enterprise Support

Scottish Enterprise has developed a package of support to help companies in Scotland grow their business.


This support is available to all companies who are VAT registered and based in Scotland (excluding HIE area who have their own package of support). Companies must be able to contribute at least 30% of the cost and fund the project upfront. Grants of £2,000 and £5,000 are available:

  • By Design grant to develop new products, processes or services or to help improve the design of existing products, processes or services.
  • Make it to Market grant to help businesses to prepare its products and services for international markets

Business Improvement Academy course

The Business Improvement Academy puts people at the centre of sustainable change, helping companies become more productive, competitive and outward looking. Course duration is 11 days, spread over three to four months for a charge of £45 (+VAT) per delegate.

Innovation advice

Currently planning an innovation project? Looking to develop or improve products or services, or  explore ways to increase efficiency or productivity? If so, Scottish Enterprise will organise a free, impartial review of your project with experienced Innovation Advisers.

Food Processing, Marketing & Cooperation

Support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food and drink sector with start-up grants for new enterprises, and business development grants can be found here.


LEADER is a bottom-up method of delivering support to communities for rural development. Grants are awarded by Local Action Groups to projects that support delivery of a Local Development Strategy. The aim of LEADER is to increase support to local rural community and business networks to build knowledge and skills, and encourage innovation and cooperation to tackle local development objectives. Further information can be found here.


Interface offers a variety of funding mechanisms for SME’s to help develop new products, services and processes through research and development. Funding is offered by the Scottish Funding Council and can be used to offset the cost for businesses collaborating with Scotland’s universities, research institutions and further education colleges.

Standard Innovation Voucher

Up to £5,000 of funding aimed at encouraging first time partnerships between a company and a university, research institution or further education college.

  • The company contributes an equal value in cash or in kind (such as staff time, materials or equipment) or a combination of both.
  • All funding from standard innovation voucher is paid directly to the university, research institution or college to cover their costs.
  • Projects must be innovative (a novel/pioneering idea) and lead to new products, services or processes that will benefit the company, the academic institution and the Scottish economy.
  • There is the potential for companies to join together and combine innovation vouchers to deliver larger projects. This could potentially be used by supply chains or common interest groups.

Follow On Innovation Vouchers

Up to £20,000 is available to encourage sustained relationships with academia and enable existing partnerships to continue the development of a larger project. The company must match the value of the grant requested in cash.

Student Placement Innovation Voucher

Up to £5,000 is available to fund a PhD or Masters student to work within a company on a clearly defined project. This work will continue the development of a Standard Innovation Voucher award. The company must have suitable premises to host a student for the duration of the project.

For more information please visit Interface – Knowledge connection for business


A Business Improvement District (BID) is about businesses working together and investing collectively in local improvements, in addition to those delivered by the statutory authorities, which will be of benefit to the businesses involved whilst contributing to the wider aspirations of the local community and growing the local economy. By working together businesses can reduce costs, share risks and create new platforms for growth.

A BID delivers a sustainable financial model for businesses wishing to work collectively. It is applicable to any collection of businesses who want to work together over a defined area, which can be local or across the whole of Scotland. A BID provides funding for an agreed period of time, allowing the private sector to work with partners within a flexible mechanism to deliver a wide variety of projects and services which will improve the business environment.

A BID can cover almost any project or service that businesses agree would be of benefit and worth funding. BID projects can include:

• Marketing, hospitality and events
• Environmental improvements
• Business development and succession
• Climate change agenda – renewables
• Waste reduction and recycling
• Safety and security
• Collective purchasing
• Training and skills

The Business Improvement Districts Scotland (BIDS) team can help potential applicants develop their initial idea. Applicants will then apply for grant support, which is a competitive process. If successful, a grant of £20,000 is made available which does not require match funding, although BIDS suggest a further £15,000 from other sources is recommended. It will fund a project manager to develop a long-term business plan for the applicant group, which will be voted on by all member businesses.

If a majority is in agreement, then future funding to deliver the business plan will come from a mandatory levy paid for by all members, which can often be supplemented by additional support from the local authority and other sources including the Scottish Government, statutory authorities, trust and grant funding bodies and the EU. It can used to develop revenue streams from the delivery of local services, asset management and other revenue generating opportunities.

Further information and contact details can be accessed at:

FLAGs for Small Businesses

Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) can provide grant funding to small businesses in the seafood sector for projects which meet Local Development Strategy priorities. There are eight FLAGs across Scotland which are all funded by the Marine Scotland and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The FLAGs are administered by local authorities and employ staff who are able to offer advice and support with project development and the application process.


Interested businesses should consider the following steps in advance of an application to a FLAG:

  • Do you have a project with defined aims, outputs and timescales?
  • Does the project fit better within one of the other areas of EMFF programme?
  • Do you have a clear business case for the project, which you can demonstrate through a written document and a cash flow?
  • Does your project fit within the Local Development Strategy within your region?
  • Have you considered the maritime framework agreement for your area?

The FLAG staff will provide you with assistance through the application process. General requirements for FLAG funded projects are:

  • Capital or revenue costs are eligible, but general running costs or repairs/maintenance are not.
  • Projects must have a clear link to the fishing industry or fishing communities.
  • Quotation requirements are in place within the application:
    • Each cost item above £5,000 must have at least three quotes.
    • Each item between £1,500 and £5,000 must have two quotes.
    • Each item below £1,500 must have one quote.
  • Projects above £25,000 in value must complete an EMFF Business Case and cash flow.
  • You must demonstrate your need for grant- only projects which have a clear financial need for public intervention will be funded.
  • Intervention rate up to 50%.

Examples of projects which FLAGs could fund are:

  • Adding value to seafood products
  • Expansion of retail facilities for seafood
  • A marketing programme to increase local consumption of fish
  • Non-statutory training programme e.g. to upskill employees in new techniques

Contact details for your local FLAG can be found on the relevant website below:

Collaborative Innovation Fund

As part of that new Make Innovation Happen service, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise are investing £650,000 into a new Food and Drink Collaborative Innovation Fund.

The fund is a bi-annual competition for groups of businesses within Scotland’s food and drink supply chain – with a focus on small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Larger companies may be part of the collaboration but should have at least one SME in their project. The aim of the fund is to encourage a culture of collaborative innovation by addressing key food and drink opportunities or challenges.

Apply for this fun on the Make Innovation Happen website here.