The Small Business Grants competition is now open for October!

The winner of the Small Business Grants competition for August is Purely Disposables, a Gwent-based eco-friendly packaging business.

The company is focused on replacing single use plastic by supplying products that are 100 per cent compostable and made from plant waste generated by the food industry.

Starting with 20 products, Purely Disposables now has more than 150 products that are made from plant waste and can be returned to the earth to grow more plants.

Managing director Charles Richardson says the company has grown so fast that it has outgrown its ability to invest in the business.

‘We have a number of new products coming into the market that we are unable to fund, as future income will be needed for the research program we are working on with Cardiff University,’ he explains.

‘[The £5,000 grant] will allow us to invest in new products without compromising our ability to fund our research, and add a projected £17,000 extra turnover for the business which would help to provide a more secure short term for the company.’

The Small Business Grants judges were impressed by the company’s innovation and commitment to sustainability.

Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, chief executive of Luxaviation UK says, ‘Purely Disposable is doing something groundbreaking in trying to produce a multinational sustainable packaging solution and it is essential that big businesses get behind sustainable solutions such as this.’

Apply for September

If you run a small business at least six months old, you can apply for free here for our September competition; the deadline is 23:59 on the final day of the month.

Our panel of independent judges will shortly be deciding on the winner for the August competition. For more on the criteria we use, click here.

July winner

The winner of the Small Business Grants competition for July is revealed as Ocean Spark Studios, a Yorkshire-based video game development studio creating its own inhouse titles.

Starting out in December 2016, the company began its journey working on its biggest title, Tetra – Elemental Awakening, a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) based on the periodic table.

The business also pushes to inspire the younger generation to be involved in a STEM subject and teaches game development through an academy.

Spending the £5,000 cash prize

Company founder Zachray Cundall says the £5,000 will be spent on equipment to run its 3D software. ‘These laptops will not only help to assist with running workshops and teaching students inhouse, but it will also provide jobs for QA testing when it comes to testing our own titles,’ he says.

Until now, the company has only been able to get one student at a time, but it has had requests for groups of five to attend together to build a game. With the necessary equipment in place, this would be able to be fulfilled.

‘This money will also cover small costs such as mice, keyboards, headphones and drawing tablets which will all be relevant to the lessons we teach,’ Cundall adds.

June winner

The winner of June’s Small Business Grants competition is revealed as Parcours Velo, set up in 2016 to provide high-performance wheels for cyclists.

Founder Dov Tate identified a gap in the market between high-end, high-priced wheels, and lower-priced wheels. ‘Our entire product range has been wind-tunnel tested and shown to deliver equal performance benefits to competitors at 2-3x the price,’ he adds.

Since launch, the company has had a number of positive reviews from the cycling and triathlon media, including a prestigious ‘Best Buy’ award from 220 Triathlon magazine.

Parcours wheels are now available through a number of retail partners. ‘We have developed an innovative sales channel that allows us to compete with other brands, without having to offer the same retail margins,’ Tate explains.

‘Rather than retailers committing to large stock orders, we supply them with a test set of wheels (or sets) with any resulting sales earning a commission. Zero capital commitment from the retailer, but still growing our geographic footprint across the UK. In parallel, we have been developing relationships with a number of smaller, ’boutique’ bike brands, such that Parcours wheels are now available as an option on their bikes.’

The £5,000 will be spend on tooling and wind tunnel studies in North Carolina in the US.

Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, Small Business Grants judge and CEO of Luxaviation UK says it is the innovation, mixed with impressive turnover, behind Parcours Velo that makes the company stand out this month.

‘The company produces a product that rivals its competitors for quality, but charges a significantly lower price, making it a far more attractive option for consumers.

‘With increased exposure, this will lead to even more impressive turnover growth.’

Now open to all small businesses

Small Business Grants was previously only open to businesses at least six months old. Now, after considering your feedback, we have opened the competition up to companies of any age that have set up and are actively trading.

Your business may be a sole trader or limited company. We also consider not-for-profit organisations. As long as you have set up and are actively trading, your application will be considered for our monthly £5,000 prize. You can apply for free here for our July competition and the deadline is 23:59 on the final day of the month. For full information on criteria and other important details about the grant, please visit our FAQ page here.

The winner of May’s £5,000 Small Business Grants competition, as adjudicated by our panel of independent judges, is Consequential Robotics (CQR) specialising in robotic networked devices that seek to empower people to maintain independence as they age.

CQR, a spin-out company of the University of Sheffield, is headed up by industrial designer Sebastian Conran, who has 40 years’ experience in developing consumer designs and an expertise in robotics and artificial intelligence.

In 2017 CQR launched its first commercial product, the robot research platform MiRo-B, the first of planned range of companion robots for applications in social care, education, and research. Since its in initial launch, CQR has shipped almost 100 research platforms, primarily into the research sector.

MiRo-B has received international critical aclaim, winning the best demonstration award at the 2017 Human Robot Interaction conference, appearing in the media many times including the Guardian and BBC One Show, and featured prominently in the UKTI’s international Innovation is Great Campaign.

Conran says, ‘Support from SmallBusiness.co.uk could make a very substantial difference to our potential to succeed in our ambition of becoming a world leader in personal robotics, with a goal of reaching annual sales in excess of £20 million by 2022.’

Innovative and fast-growing

Rupert Lee-Browne, chief executive of Caxton says, ‘Consequential Robotics is a stand-out business that has a strong mission and a very strong future. It is innovative, fast-growing and has the potential to be a world-leader in personal robotics.’

Apply now

Small Business Grants so far has been a cash competition for companies with revenues between £50,000 and £500,000. Now, in addition to accepting these candidates, we are also opening the competition to those businesses that have yet to make sales.

If you run a small business at least six months old, you can apply for free here for our June competition; the deadline is 23:59 on the final day of the month.

The winner of April’s £5,000 Small Business Grants competition, as adjudicated by our panel of independent judges, is Olly’s Olives, which aims to shake up the olive market with its unpasteurised snack pouches.

Founder Olly Hiscocks studied neuroscience at the University of Manchester and landed a place to study post-graduate medicine, but always wanted to start his own business.

‘The idea of the olives came when I just saw the lacklustre products on the shows – no colour, bland branding, boring flavours and no innovation,’ he says. ‘So that gave me enough of a drive to buy some olives and ingredients from the market and start marinating in the kitchen. I then took this straight to the market stall in Richmond and that was where Olly’s Olives was born!’

However, it was when he looked at the snacking market that he saw a real opportunity. ‘The couple of brands already out there again were very bland but committed olive treason by pasteurising their product – a heat-treatment process that ruins the flavour, texture and nutritional value.

‘We were told by everyone in the industry that we either had to pasteurise our olives or add artificial preservatives if we wanted to give sufficient shelf life and we said NAY!’

Six months ago Olly launched what he claims to be the world’s first unpasteurised snack pouch of olives with three flavours: The Bandit – Chilli & Rosemary; The Connoisseur – Garlic & Basil; and The Hippie – Lemon & Thyme.

Since launch, the company has picked up listings ranging from Ocado and Brewdog to Eurostar and Virgin Trains, achieving sales of £70,000 in six months.

‘This money will be an absolute game changer for the business and would actually allow me to finally employ a full time salesman to help me manage the sales process in the business,’ Olly says.

March winner

The winner of March’s £5,000 Small Business Grants competition is Well&Truly, a food business delivering a range of healthy snacks to domestic and international markets.

Well&Truly was born when sisters-in-law Maria and Sarah Trechman saw an opportunity for an innovative and exciting brand with great tasting, healthy snacks, whether lower fat, fewer calories or lower sugar.

In the space of a year and a half, the company has supplied Tesco in over 1,000 stores nationwide, brought five products to market and has twice been voted a top 100 UK start-up.

The business, which currently consists of its two co-founders, one permanent employee and one intern, also counts Wholefoods Market, Ocado, Booths and WH Smith as stockists.

Maria says, ‘We believe that the food and beverage industry have a responsibility to bring to market as healthy versions of great tasting products as possible.

‘Our key achievement to date, and what we’re most proud of, is the impact we’re already having on consumers’ health. Since launching Well&Truly, we’ve taken 5.6 million grams of fat out of the supply chain, thereby contributing to a healthier population.

‘It is our belief that through modest changes in behaviour – such as swapping a regular bag of full fat crisps for a lower fat version – consumers can significantly improve their health over time.’

A focus on exports

The grant will allow the company to take on one more member of staff part-time for three months to set the operation up for international expansion and push export sales.

‘With Brexit looming we need to diversify our customer base as much as possible and winning new retail and wholesale customers abroad is a big part of future proofing our business,’ Maria says.

She estimates that the work generated as a direct result of the grant would generate between £55,000 and £75,000 worth of sales from new customers based abroad.

Our judges were impressed with the vision of the company. Rennie Schafer, CEO of the Self Storage Association says, ‘[Well&Truly] has considered the scaling problems that thwart many small businesses and look headed for serious growth.’

If you run a small business at least one year old with a turnover between £50,000 and £500,000, you can apply for free here for our April competition.

The winner of February’s £5,000 Small Business Grants competition is Cypher, an educational company that teaches children between the age of 4 and 14 how to code during the school holidays.

Cypher’s camps run for a full week and incorporate real world themes such as fashion, architecture, digital art, music and nature, into its camp days to show children how technology can be used creatively in any way they can imagine. CEO Elizabeth Tweedale says the company strives to provide a fun, energetic, enriched and comprehensive education for all of its young students.

Launched in June 2016, Cypher has grown from one camp with 12 students to seven camps across London with over 100 students attending the camps each holiday. The also hold after school coding clubs in schools and venues teaching another 120 students to code each week. In August 2017 the company won a position in the Entrepreneurial Spark Scale programme, which Tweedale says helped her focus on the company’s growth plans and set the scalable business model into action.

Over the last eight months, the company has grown from the founder to having three staff members and four teachers in September 2017 to now having seven staff members and 30 teachers, with a turnover in excess of £10,000 a month.

Tweedale says, ‘Cypher’s vision is to create a world where children will have an unlimited appetite for curiosity which will enable them to move forward, open new doors, tackle whatever the future brings and become successful and valuable members of their communities.’

‘Inspired’

Our judges commended Cypher on addressing key market requirements. Rennie Schafer, CEO of the Self Storage Association says, ‘[This is a] business aiming to educate todays children on the technology they will take for granted tomorrow.

‘I think the idea of adding drones into their educational programme is inspired and will not only provide interest and entertainment for the children but will educate them on a tool that will have mainstream use by the time they join the workforce.’

March competition open

Our February competition attracted a record number of entries. The March competition is now open so apply now for your chance to win £5,000 to invest in your company’s growth. The deadline is close of play on March 31st.

Our in-house team at SmallBusiness.co.uk will now produce a shortlist of the leading six companies for our judges to consider, and February’s winner will be revealed later in the month.

If you run a small business at least one year old with a turnover between £50,000 and £500,000, you can apply for free here for our March competition.

At the end of each month our in-house editorial team narrows the applicants into a shortlist of six companies. The shortlist is then sent to our panel of independent judges, made up of prominent entrepreneurs and industry authorities. A decision is made on the winner shortly afterwards. For more information on the process, please visit our FAQ page in the link above.

The winner of December/January’s £5,000 Small Business Grants competition is Perlego, a SaaS platform offering unlimited access to academic e-books on a subscription basis.

Billed as the ‘Spotify for textbooks’, Perlego claims to be the first and only SaaS platform offering unlimited access to academic e-books on a subscription basis.

Officially launched in December 2016, Perlego has already partnered with over 1,350 publishers, including most of the market leaders such as Wiley, Pearson, Elseiver, Palgrave MacMillan, Springer and Taylor and Francis, to offer over 320,000 academic e-books.

‘According to the Financial Times, textbook prices have increased by 847 per cent since 1982 or three times the rate of inflation,’ says co-founder Gauthier Van Malderen. ‘We are on a mission to make academic content more affordable.’

Our judges commended Perlego on bringing new ideas to the market and its strong partnerships.

Andrew Clough, founder of The Brew says, ‘Perlego is an obvious win for all hard-up students, and an impressive range of publishers are onboard. Marketing is going to be key to user growth, so they will need to concentrate on building partnership across the academic spectrum to channel students into the portal.

‘The more features introduced as part of the portal the better for user retention.’

Rennie Schafer, CEO of the Self Storage Association adds, ‘As more users are turning to the sharing economy it makes complete sense to have an online subscription-based service for access to academic text books.

‘The cost for physical copies of these books is considerable and their lifespan limited, an ideal market for a subscription service. The idea of users then using collaborative learning and sharing reading lists makes this a complete experience for students, far superior then buying or borrowing a physical textbook.’

Shortlist for December/January

After a long and difficult process, December/January’s Small Business Grants entrants have been narrowed down to six leading companies by our team at SmallBusiness.co.uk.

The selection procedure took into account turnover performance/growth, innovation, partnerships forged/projects completed, and the extent to which we believed a £5,000 cash boost would help the company.

December/January’s Small Business Grants shortlist is as follows:

Composites Evolution

Composites Evolution is a privately-owned business that manufactures value-added materials for the fast-growing composites industry.

www.Merlinsoft.co.uk

Since 2013, Merlin has provided and supported retailers and attractions with EPOS solutions.

Perlego

Billed as the ‘Spotify for textbooks’, Perlego is a SaaS platform offering unlimited access to academic e-books on a subscription basis.

Rockit

Rockit is a portable baby rocker that fits to any pushchair or pram.

Sense Media Group

Sense Media Group was established in 2015 as a conference and training company serving the automotive sector.

Zero Carbon Food

Zero Carbon Food, trading as Growing Underground, is a Controlled Environment Agriculture business established in 2012.

This shortlist will now be sent off to our panel of independent judges, who will make a decision on the winner in the coming days based on our criteria above.

Congratulations to our shortlisted companies for December/January!

Our December/January Small Business Grants competition for £5,000 is now closed, but the February competition is open for entries!

At the end of each month our in-house editorial team narrows the applicants into a shortlist of six companies. The shortlist is then sent to our panel of independent judges, made up of prominent entrepreneurs and industry authorities. A decision is made on the winner shortly afterwards. For more information on the process, please visit our FAQ page in the link above.

All we ask is that you fill in a single form talking about your business. Please note: companies may only apply for this competition every three months.

Previous grant winners

The winner of November’s £5,000 Small Business Grants competition iwas Synap, an educational learning platform for students, professionals and hobbyists.

Using memory science and artificial intelligence, Synap lets people engage with short, multiple-choice quizzes, and uses the data generated to create a personalised learning plan for each user, based on their own strengths and weaknesses.

Originally created in 2014 by James Gupta and Omair Vaiyani as a way to help with their own exams, the system is now used by tens of thousands of students and professionals, across a range of fields, to improve job and exam performance.

Going full time

Having just graduated from Leeds University, Gupta and Vaiyana are now running the business full time, and consider themselves to be in a better position to approach educational institutions, as well as corporates, to offer training solutions for their students and employees.

Gupta says the plan is to spend £2,000 of the grant money on marketing materials (design/events/stand equipment, brochures, flyers), £2,000 on digital marketing (PPC/social ads), and allocate £1,000 for miscellaneous expenses.

‘The £5,000 comes at a perfect time when we were looking for a way to scale up our sales/marketing pipeline and start bringing in new clients across a range of industries,’ he adds.

‘Innovative and scalable’

Our judges commended Synap on its advanced technology, exciting expansion plans and key partnerships forged.

Sarah Turner, CEO of Angel Academe says, ‘Synap is an innovative and scalable proposition. The technology is achieving impressive results for students and the business is set to grow through excellent partnerships.’

Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, chief executive of Luxaviation UK adds, ‘Synap’s partnership with the Oxford University Press is very impressive, but it is the dramatically increased pass rate experienced by mytaxi in its Small Vehicles Licensing Exam that really stands out.

‘Synap exhibits the ability to appeal to various types of businesses and, therefore, a wide customer base. It is this scalability that makes it the most impressive company on November’s shortlist and deserving of the £5,000 grant.’

November shortlist

November’s Small Business Grants competition was narrowed down to six companies by our team at SmallBusiness.co.uk. Here is the shortlist:

Cake Bag

Cake Bag is a subscription box service for cake decorating tools and equipment, launched in 2016 by Rachel Sanders.

Cuffs & Co

Cuffs & Co has been in business for just over 14 years, founded from a passion in unusual cufflinks by its managing director and founder Phil Pinder.

Grafik Language

Grafik Language was founded in September 2016, creating copy for cross-channel content.

Kiwi Gray

Founder Adam Graham’s aim is to offer ‘no-nonsense business growth’ for advertising and marketing agencies.

Synap

Synap is an online education platform that uses memory science and AI in an effort to help people learn more in less time.

Tidy Books

Tidy Books is a kid’s bookcase company, began in Geraldine Grandidier’s violin workshop in 2004.

Congratulations to our shortlisted companies for November!

October’s winner

The winner of October’s £5,000 competition was Sent into Space.

Sent into Space

On December 17th 2010, University of Sheffield students Alex Baker and Chris Rose used a helium balloon to film the Earth from the edge of space on a shoestring budget.

The project would inspire Sent into Space, a company offering marketing, research and education with a focus on near space.

Dr Baker and Dr Rose have grown the company to a turnover of circa £300,000 and are looking to expand into providing services for developers of high-altitude equipment such as near-space satellites.

The company has also launched a service that scatters the ashes of the deceased from space.

The £5,000 grant will be instrumental for investment in key equipment to streamline processes.

Alex Keen, who looks after projects and innovation at the company says, ‘Winning this grant is a wonderful achievement for Sent Into Space. This money will allow us to buy a brand new CNC machine, which means we can expand the range of materials we use to build our near-space payloads and greatly improve our turnaround time for new projects.

‘What’s more, it’s very rewarding to be recognised as an innovation leader in our field by the UK small business community. Thanks!’

The pick of the judges

The Small Business Grants judges were impressed by the innovation shown by the company, as well as the partnerships forged and the degree to which the grant can take the business forward.

Rennie Schafer, CEO of the Self Storage Association says, ‘Sent into Space is a business facing the challenges of being a real innovator and having to create much of their equipment bespoke. I like the way the company is thinking creatively about uses for the service and not just focusing on traditional uses. The funeral idea is inspired.’

Rupert Lee-Browne, founder of Caxton FX feels that the company has made its service accessible and easy to buy which is reflected in its growth. ‘The grant will go towards a piece of kit that will make a significant difference to the business,’ he adds.

Andrew Clough, founder of The Brew says, ‘I love the multi-stream nature of the business in terms of how it appeals to education, research and the home enthusiast. And it’s impressive that this approach is underpinned by corporate sales.

‘On top of that, the upcoming partnerships with international space agencies and the use of the latest prototyping technology is why Sent into Space gets my No.1 vote this month.’

September’s winner

The winner of September’s inaugural Small Business Grants competition was Techsixtyfour, collecting £5,000 to invest in the company’s development.

Launched in 2015, Techsixtyfour’s flagship product, The Gator Watch, is a wearable mobile phone and tracker for children which can be used almost anywhere in the world.

After getting her product stocked in John Lewis, founder Colleen Wong saw sales take off and is now preparing to launch the Gator Watch into Europe.

‘I’m so happy to have won the Small Business Grant,’ Wong says. ‘We are currently expanding to Germany, France, Italy and Spain, and this money will really help out with marketing for these efforts.

‘As a mum of two toddlers, now aged two and three, I know just how hard it is to balance work and family. I have now hired 14 flexible working staff who all work on contract (so not employees) and 12 of them are mums of very young children.

‘I’m going to treat my staff to a nice Christmas meal – they work so hard for the company.’

A close contest

In a close competition, our judges were impressed by the innovation and scale potential of the Gator Watch product.

Ian Cass, managing director of the Forum of Private Business says, ‘This is a company currently with a small turnover but huge scalability, showing unique technology and boasting impressive stockists already.’

Rupert Lee-Browne, founder of Caxton FX adds, ‘Techsixtyfour’s offering is great. The product is innovative and gives parents real peace of mind. The distribution points that have been highlighted to achieve the sales are on the money.’

Rob Moore, founder of Progressive Property and host of The Disruptive Entrepreneur podcast gave praise to all of the candidates. ‘The depth and breadth of the shortlist demonstrates incredible creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. With so many innovative entries from small businesses being delivered, it was hard to choose the winner.

‘The entries show remarkable progression year on year and great expertise in their field. All these individuals and small businesses deserve be be recognised, respected and connected. We should celebrate their work in building growing businesses, creating jobs, and innovating.’

The Competition

If you run a small business that has been set up and is actively trading, you can apply here. All we ask is that you fill in a single form talking about your business. Please note: companies may only apply for this competition every three months. 

Our Small Business Grants scheme is sponsored by Worldpay, Salesforce, Opus Energy and Yell Business and Frontierpay. These partners are specialists in the small business sector and are focused on offering products and services tailored for SMEs. For more information about what they can offer your business, please visit our sponsors page here.   

We would also like to thank our partners, SaveTheHighStreet.org,  No Brainer, the Forum of Private Business, London Chamber of Commerce, Angel Academe, Luxaviation UK, Caxton, Progressive Property, The Self Storage Association and The Brew.   

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