With a focus on growth and regeneration in the region following the signing of the Tay Cities Deal, companies of all sizes are being encouraged to explore their options to diversify, innovate, invest in their businesses and expand.
However, for some ambitious companies in Scotland, a critical barrier to growth can be a lack of knowledge about how to raise funding and where best to seek support. With an array of private and public-sector funding sources available, it can be a daunting prospect for businesses to know who they should turn to and when.
That’s where Scottish Enterprise, the country’s national economic development agency, can help. They can support businesses with a variety of flexible funding options including grants, loans and equity investments, to help companies achieve their growth ambitions.
Rhona Allison (pictured below), a director at Scottish Enterprise, says she and her colleagues are there to help companies across Tayside navigate through the various options and help identify the right funding to deliver their growth ambitions.
She explained: “We’ve got a real appetite to work with businesses of any size who have the ambition to compete in the global marketplace, or to increase their productivity, or to create new products and services.
“We are seeing some really exciting activity taking place in the Tayside area particularly by high-technology, gaming and life-science companies.
“Dundee has such a history of innovation in life sciences and in the technology sectors, fuelled in no small part to the quality of science, innovation and people from the world-class local universities.
“We’re actively working with companies across a range of sectors and markets in Dundee, from the very small, right the way through the spectrum to more established companies that are seeking to scale and grow and need funding to do so.”
For Rhona and her colleagues, the key is in talking to companies at an early stage of their planning to help them prepare for growth and identify and help secure the right source of funding from the range available.
“Thinking strategically about funding is really important. Companies need to think not only about the funding that is needed in the short to medium term, but the investment that is needed over the longer-term to help them convert their growth ambitions into reality.
“If a business has ambition to grow and is needing help and support to secure funding, come and talk to us if you’re not doing so already.”
Scottish Enterprise can provide a variety of advice and financial support to help companies identify the funding that is right for them.
The agency offers a broad and flexible range of funding options to support companies throughout their life cycle.
Derek Shaw (pictured below), head of investment management at the Scottish Investment Bank, a subsidiary arm of Scottish Enterprise, outlined the range of financial support available to ambitious companies with the potential to scale.
He said: “We are keen to support companies with genuine capacity to scale up, and we can help them find the right funding to meet their business needs.
“For example, an R&D grant could enable a business to research an innovative new product or service and, as it is non-dilutive capital, it can be attractive to companies and investors alike.
“Equity funding often provides vital capital in the early stages of a high growth company where alternative sources of funding are not as appropriate.
“The Scottish Investment Bank can potentially provide equity funding of up to 50% for businesses that have a gap in their overall funding package.”
He added: “The Scottish Investment Bank makes commercial investments alongside a range of private sector investors, including high-net worth individuals, venture capitalists and private-equity houses, at various stages of a company’s life cycle.
“Last year, we invested £43m into 147 companies, leveraging more than £200m of private sector investment.”
In addition, the Scottish Investment Bank can now provide commercial loans to established viable businesses that are seeking additional working capital, or funding to invest in their facilities or equipment that they can’t, for a variety of reasons, get from traditional lending sources.
The terms of the loans are flexible and can be tailored to the specific needs of the company. Scottish Enterprise can provide loans of between £250,000 and £2m, and up to £5m in exceptional circumstances, to these growth-focussed companies with a deliverable business plan and a clear ability to repay the debt.
As Rhona Allison explains, a suite of support is available. “For viable companies who may find it difficult to get funding through traditional routes, we have the ability to offer a diversity of funding options and can help companies make sense of the different options to get the best funding match for them.
“There is a lot of change in the economic landscape, but it brings many opportunities as well as challenge. We are seeing new areas emerging promising tremendous opportunities for companies in Scotland and we’re here to help them achieve success.
“If a business has ambition and is looking to grow, then we are here to help.”
*To find out more or to apply visit the Scottish Enterprise website by clicking here to be put in touch with a team who will assess your business requirements and discuss funding options.