Early Stage Growth Challenge Fund

Note: This fund application closes on 31st July

This Scottish Government fund is managed by the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise. It’s designed to support early-stage, high-growth, innovative Scottish companies who have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s aimed at companies where COVID-19 has had a clear impact on revenue, working capital costs, or access to equity investment, resulting in a cash shortfall, a diversion of resources away from growth activities or a delay in achievement of development or investor milestones. It can provide from £50,000 to £300,000 per company.

The funding is a combination of convertible loan and grant, although applications will also be accepted for a convertible loan only. The grant element does not need to be repaid, and will only make up a maximum of 20% (subject to eligible costs) of any funding awarded.

Am I eligible?

Your company must meet the following criteria to apply, which we’ll check as part of our appraisal process. If you don’t meet the minimum criteria (or can’t sufficiently evidence it) your application will not proceed to appraisal. If your company is part of a group, it must be the parent company that applies, and the parent company that meets these criteria.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be based in Scotland or have the majority of your operations in Scotland
  • Be a private company limited by shares
  • Have been incorporated between 31 December 2009 and 31 December 2019
  • Have 2-49 full time equivalent employees, with at least 80% based in Scotland. This doesn’t include contractors or employees on zero-hours contracts. If your employee numbers are expected to change, then use the number you expect to have on 7 September 2020
  • Be a small or micro enterprise – a turnover of less than €10 million or a balance sheet value of less than €10 million
  • Be an early stage company with a high growth potential, operating in or targeting international growth markets. You must have raised external equity finance in the last 24 calendar months, or be planning on doing so in the next 12 months. This equity can’t come from founders, family, friends or crowd funding.
  • Be a high growth and innovative company – you must have registered at least one technology right (such as a patent, utility model, design right or protection certificate) in the last 24 calendar months, OR have received an R&D or innovation grant or prize of minimum £50,000 by an EU institution, EU body or regional/national research of innovation support scheme in the last 24 calendar months, OR have received (or are working through a formal application for) approval from a regulatory body such as Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or CE certification mark, or equivalent OR have previously raised external equity finance (not including founders, family, friends, and crowd funding). You’ll still be eligible if you expect to have done one of these things by 7 September 2020
  • Be able to show plans to use this funding for eligible costs and activities (as listed under ‘what can this funding be used for?’)
  • Be committed to Fair Work First. Find out more about Fair Work First.

Meeting these eligibility criteria does not guarantee you’ll receive funding. This is a competitive funding call and only the most highly graded companies will receive funding.

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