D2N2 Business Investment Fund

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D2N2 Growth Hub

Business Investment FundThe D2N2 Growth Hub are able to offer grants to eligible businesses via our Business Investment Fund.

About the Business Investment Fund

The Business Investment Fund aims to support businesses to exploit their existing offer or introduce new systems, software or other physical/ intellectual items to grow their business, improve performance and increase productivity.

Part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Scheme operates over two stages:

  • Expression of Interest
  • Followed by a Full Application process.

What is the Business Investment Fund?

The Business Investment Fund forms part of the D2N2 Growth Hub offer, which exists to help businesses find the support they need to grow and evolve. The Business Investment Fund allows the Growth Hub to offer direct support to SMEs to achieve their aspirations for growth. This fund will see a total of £6m of funding invested into the D2N2 economy between 2019 and 2022.

The D2N2 Business Investment Fund aims to support growing businesses to improve competitiveness, productivity and their ability to take advantage of commercial opportunities.

Projects will be invited to the Full Application stage if they pass compliance and eligibility checks. This fund will remain open to applications until all funding has been committed but phases of funding will be made available via timebound calls for projects

Administered by Nottingham City Council (the “Grant Managing Authority”) as the accountable body for the Growth Hub project.

Grant Amount & Match Funding

Grants are available to fund 35% of the total project cost (excluding VAT). The minimum grant available is £3,500 and the maximum grant is £20,000.

  • You will be expected to fund and evidence 100% of the project cost upfront from your own resources.
  • 35% will then be reimbursed to you by way of a grant award. Ultimately, you will have match funded 65% of the total project cost (excluding VAT).

In exceptional cases, an applicant may be awarded a higher grant amount where the total project cost exceeds £57,000.

However, applicants must demonstrate exceptional outputs and/ or exceptional value for money and any funding decision will be at the discretion of the Grant Panel.

Example 1   Example 2   Example 3  

Total Project Cost
Grant Available (35%) 
Match Required (65%)

Total Project Cost  
Grant Available (35%) 
Match Required (65%) 



Total Project Cost
Grant Available (35%) 
Match Required (65%)


You must:

  • Be an SME.

  • Be located in the areas of Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

  • Employ less than 250 full time equivalent (FTE) employees.

  • Have either a turnover of less than or equal to €50m or a balance sheet of less than or equal to €43m at the time of full application.

  • Have been trading for at least 12 months at the time of application.

  • Fund and evidence 100% of the project cost upfront from your own resources, ultimately providing 65% match yourself. You must not use European Union funding as a contribution to your 65% match.

  • Not make any project purchases using personal credit cards, cash or cheques as these are not an eligible payment method.

  • Have a project valued between £10,000 and £57,000.

  • Compliantly procure all items for which grant funding is requested in accordance with procurement rules.

  • Complete an Expression of Interest Form.

Sector Restrictions

A number of sectors cannot be supported through the ERDF due to the existence of State Aid and other regimes, or because aid would distort competition. The following sectors are ineligible for ERDF grant support:

  • Fishery and Aquaculture

  • Agricultural products

  • Coal, steel and shipbuilding

  • Synthetic fibres sector

  • Financial and insurance 

  • Establishments providing generalised (school age) education

  • Coastal protection, soil conservation and infrastructures

  • Retail businesses are subject to some exclusions. The general principle is that support to build or refurbish retail facilities or improve infrastructure of any kind is not eligible as it will not assist economic development and that improved performance for one facility/ business is regarded as displacing similar activity elsewhere.

    Revenue support for the retail sector is eligible only where support is not exclusively or predominately targeted at a single retail businesses.

    Where there is no question of displacement, for example, a specialist consultant is offering advice to a range of retail organisations on reducing their carbon emissions, this should be allowed. 

  • Finance and insurance companies should not be supported, as their activities are non-productive and support to one institution is likely to lead to displacement of jobs.

    This would include insurance brokers who act as intermediaries and ‘sell’ insurance policies to businesses or individuals.

  • For those applicants, active in the road freight/ transport sector, the De Minimis maximum is €100,000 over a 3 year rolling period.

How Do Businesses Apply?

Applicants will need to adhere to requirements for a financial assessment, provide quotes for purchases and must defray expenditure before claiming the grant. This grant is available through consultation with an adviser only.

Please contact your Growth Hub Adviser to obtain and complete an expression of interest form.

For further information please contact us on 0333 006 9178 where we can allocate a Business Adviser to discuss your project and provide application details.


Q: I am a relatively new company just getting established, can I apply for the Grant?
A: Ideally we would expect to see three years accounts, but we can accept a minimum of 12 months of trading records as long as it shows you can finance the project upfront and would be able to repay the grant if required.

Q: I operate as a “Sole Trader”. Can I apply for the grant?
A: Yes but you would need trading evidence ideally covering three years, but 12 months could be acceptable.

Q: I have been operating at a loss and would like to apply for the grant to help my business recover. Is that possible? 
A: Yes you can still apply, you will have to provide a convincing business case and show how you can pay for the investment upfront as this grant is claimed in arrears. You would also need to show that you have sufficient resources to repay the grant if for whatever reason you were required to do so.

Q: I have a retail business, am I eligible to apply?
A: Retail operations including shops, cafes and restaurants are not eligible for the BIF grant unfortunately. However, if you can show that more than 50% of your trading is wholesale then you could be eligible.

Q: The grant allows purchase of equipment to support my business growth. Are there any types of equipment that are not allowed?
A: You need to explain specifically how your new equipment will support growth. There are some types of equipment that may not be supported such as motor vehicles. This is because it is difficult to show that they would not be used for purposes other than the project.

Q: My business is registered outside the D2N2 area but the project will be focussed in the D2N2 area, can I apply?
A: Yes, we can support the project as long as the activity and project spend is within the area.

Q: Can I choose my supplier?
A: Yes, but you must follow our procurement regulations and provide us with the necessary evidence such as specifications and quotes along with your application form.

Q: Is there someone who can help me with the application?
A: Yes, your D2N2 Growth Hub adviser is able to help you with your application.

Q: How do I apply?
A: If you are already signed up with the D2N2 Growth Hub, please contact your allocated Business Adviser. If you are new to the D2N2 Growth Hub, please contact our information team, they will be able to assign you to an adviser who can help you through the process.

Q: How long will it take before I receive the grant?
A: You will first need to submit an Expression of Interest form so we can assess if your project is eligible. We aim to reply to you within one week. If your project is eligible, you will be invited to submit a full application. We aim to process your application and obtain approval within one month of receiving it. You then need to pay for everything upfront and make a claim once completed. We aim to pay claims within 2-3 weeks. You can make up to 2 claims for any one project.

Q: Can I apply for more than one project?
A: Yes as long as they are separate projects and each has its own business case.

Q. Can I use hire purchase agreements to pay for my purchase?

A: Generally speaking the answer is no. The applicant must own the equipment and pay for it directly from their bank account which is not normally the case with HP. If in doubt you should raise this with your adviser. 

For more information on applying for grant funding please click here to read our comprehensive guide. 

The Business Investment Fund is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


Business Investment Fund



Further detail about example projects and more granular information, can be downloaded here.




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