D2N2 Business Investment Fund

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D2N2 Growth Hub

Business Investment Fund

The D2N2 Growth Hub is 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 ‘step-change’ their existing offer by introducing new systems or equipment, software or consultancy 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 £9m of funding invested into the D2N2 economy between 2019 and 2023.

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 30% of the total project cost (excluding VAT). The minimum grant available is £3,000 and the maximum grant is £30,000.

  • You will be expected to fund and evidence 100% of the project cost upfront from your own resources.
  • Up to 30% will then be reimbursed to you by way of a grant award. Ultimately, you will have match funded 70% of the total project cost (excluding VAT).

All funding decisions will be at the discretion of the Grant Panel.


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 70% match yourself. You must not use European Union funding as a contribution to your 70% 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 £100,000.
  • 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 under ERDF rules. The general principle is that support to build or refurbish retail facilities or improve infrastructure of any kind is not eligible as improved performance for one facility/ business is regarded as displacing similar activity elsewhere.
  • Retail sector businesses can only apply for BIF grants if they are able to demonstrate that at least 50% of their trading activity is business-to-business (e.g. wholesale).
  • Finance and insurance companies cannot be supported within ERDF rules, as 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, or complete the enquiry form below.

Types of projects funded

The following provides a list of projects that have already been successfully funded by the Business Investment Fund:

  • CNC machine with associated software
  • Welding equipment
  • Development of bespoke mould for manufacture of new product
  • Specialist laboratory equipment
  • New server and IT hardware
  • Video conferencing system
  • ERP system
  • Ecommerce website


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 – business to business - 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 8 weeks of receiving it. You then need to pay for everything upfront and make a claim once completed. We aim to pay claims within 4 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 distinct projects and each has its own business case.  However, we want to ensure as many businesses as possible get the chance to apply for a grant, so we have a limit of 2 projects per applicant. 

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, as the repayment period is likely to finish after the BIF programme has ended in June 2023.  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.


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