Business development grants: Growth Programme

Rural businesses can apply for Growth Programme business development grants - find out who can apply and what the grants will fund.

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Growth Programme business development grants are available to develop a new or existing business in a rural area.

There are other more specific types of grants available that businesses in rural areas can apply for. These include food processing and tourism infrastructure grants. The call for applications will state which types of grant applicants can apply for.

Read about other Growth Programme grants available to rural businesses.

Who can apply

Applications must be for projects in a rural area. Applicants can call the Rural Payments helpline to check: 03000 200 301.

Applicants can be:

  • a micro or small-sized business – check the size of a business
  • a micro or small-sized social enterprise
  • a farmer wanting to diversify into non-agricultural activities

Applicants need to be able to sign a legally binding contract in order to get a grant.

Who can’t apply

The following are not eligible for these grants:

  • non-departmental public bodies or Crown bodies
  • members of Producer Organisations under the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme who have had (or can get) a grant for the same project under that scheme

Businesses wholly or partly supported by government funding

Businesses that are wholly or partly supported by government funding are only eligible if they can show that the project funding other than the grant is from private sources (for example, savings or a bank loan).

Applicants that have some public funding

If an applicant has already had public funding, they must declare this when they apply. They may not qualify for some grants if they have received more than €200,000 (approximately £145,000) of funding in the past 3 years.

Applicants can contact the RPA to check whether they qualify for these grants.

How much funding is available

Each ‘call for applications’ will specify if there are minimum and maximum grant limits.

Growth Programme grants will normally be above £35,000. Applicants can usually apply for a grant to cover up to 40% of the project’s eligible costs. The minimum eligible cost of the project would, therefore, be £87,500. Grants will normally be to a maximum of £145,000.

Occasionally, the calls for application will be for larger projects. Grants for these projects will only cover up to 20% of the eligible costs.

The sizes of the grants available in sterling are determined by the Euro exchange rate, at the time the grant funding agreement is sent. The amounts given here are estimated sterling values at the time of publishing.

State aid rules

Business development grants can be made under de minimis state aid regulations. A maximum of €200,000 (approximately £145,000) is available to any one applicant in any 3-year period under de minimis rules. If an applicant has had other public funding, this may count towards the de minimis aid amount and reduce the amount of money they can apply for.

If an applicant has had the maximum funding under the de minimis rules there may be other state aids rules which will provide for grants of up to 20% of eligible costs. RPA will check and discuss this with applicants where necessary

Eligible costs

The following costs are eligible for funding:

  • building or improving fixed property
  • buying new equipment and machinery and
  • architects, engineer or consultant fees for the project – (as long as these don’t add up to more than 15% of the project’s total eligible costs)

The following costs are also eligible, as long as they only form part of the project being funded:

  • buying or developing a dedicated piece of computer software – but not an off-the shelf piece of business software (like Microsoft Office)
  • patents, licences, copyrights or trademarks, and
  • energy-saving and resource efficiency equipment

Ineligible costs

There are some costs which are not eligible for all grants.

Business development grants will also not cover the costs of marketing and promotion.

How to apply

Read about how to apply for Growth Programme grants.

Contact RPA

Rural Payments helpline: 03000 200 301


Published 23 March 2015