finding finance

When it comes to business funding, it can be difficult to navigate your way around all the different types of financial support or to understand which organisations can help.

Below we have listed a selection of funding and services that can deliver them. A wide range of financial support is also available via the Financial Support Finder provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

If you wish to discuss your business requirements further, contact the Dorset Gateway and we can point you in the right direction.

Dorset LEP - Growing Places Fund

The Dorset LEP’s overarching aim is to create more jobs and drive economic growth in Dorset through public, private and cross sector partnership and investment.

The Growing Places Fund is a repayable loan designed to unlock capital projects which have a significant economic impact, the potential for job and home creation and which can quickly deliver tangible economic outcomes. Growing Places Fund may also be used where businesses are unable to access alternative funding mechanisms for viable schemes that will deliver economic growth and support Dorset LEP’s strategic objectives.

Arts University Bournemouth (AUB)

Arts University Bournemouth, established in 1885, is one of the UK’s leading specialist education providers. With state of the art equipment, including digital fabrication and advanced manufacturing capabilities, AUB has the highest employability rating of all UK HEIs. AUB has secured £1.4 million investment from Dorset LEP to build Dorset’s only incubator and AUB’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funded-programme supports SMEs developing new products and services with 1:1 match-funded grants up to £5,000. SMEs can also access AUBs facilities and design talent to support prototyping and testing.

British Business Bank

The British Business Bank is 100% government owned, but independently managed. It brings expertise and government money to the smaller business finance markets.

Their aim is to make finance markets work better for small businesses in the UK at all stages of their development: starting up, scaling up and staying ahead. 


Dorset Council

Provides a variety of options for local and national grant funding for businesses, charity, community interest and social enterprise groups.

Dorset Growth Hub

A Business Support Agency with access to start-up grants, match-funded digital grants and other business finance offered in conjunction with training, events and one to one support.

GetSet for Growth

GetSet for Growth brings high-quality, professional resources to your company. Their finance and marketing experts provide commercial insights and direction, drawn from first hand experience, to help you grow your bottom line, strengthen your business and marketing strategies and work with you to secure finance to invest in your growth.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK offers a wide range of competitions to access grant or loan funding as part of UK Research and Innovation to drive productivity and economic growth, by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.

Low Carbon Dorset

Low Carbon Dorset is a three year programme of activities to help stimulate growth in Dorset’s low carbon economy. Through free technical support, workshops, networking events and grants, Low Carbon Dorset are helping SMEs carry out standard energy efficiency measures, and larger low carbon projects.


Up to 40% of the cost of an approved and recommended project available to reduce carbon emissions.

Prince's Trust (R&I)

Facilitates match-funded Innovation Vouchers which support businesses undertaking research and innovation projects. Recipients can claim back up to 50% of their financial investment in small research projects.

Silicon South (Digital)

Silicon South is an ambitious not-for-profit organisation dedicated to accelerating the digital economy in Dorset – one of the fastest growing creative and digital hubs in Europe.

Silicon South supports companies applying for grant funding from Innovate UK and/or other funding sources, providing expertise to help companies improve their chances of successfully gaining approval for funding. 


Broadening knowledge and learning new skills are vital components for staying competitive and enhancing personal growth - but the cost of attending events, conferences or workshops which can help you gain these insights, can be a barrier to people signing up. Silicon South helps people working in Dorset’s creative and digital sector to overcome these cost barriers.

South West Investment Group (SWIG)

Operating for more than 25 years, SWIG Finance is a not-for-profit organisation delivering loan finance across the South West region to small and medium sized enterprises which cannot access sufficient funding from the banks.

Visit the SWIG website to find out more.

Start Up Loans Scheme

Learn with Start Up Loans: announcing a new partnership designed to help UK businesses get off the ground and stay there
The government-backed Start Up Loans scheme has partnered with world-renowned distance-learning provider The Open University to give its customers – and other small business owners across the UK – the opportunity to take free Open University business learning courses.

At a moment of significant upheaval for the UK’s start-ups, the partnership aims to help businesses get off the ground by giving them the confidence and training they need to take their ideas to the next level.

The online courses can be accessed easily by visiting the Start Up Loans website and have been designed to suit all needs and paces of learning, from introductory to intermediate to advanced. Depending on the level of study, the courses take six, 10 or 30 hours to complete and are grouped into several key areas:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Career and leadership
  • Finance and accounting
  • Marketing and commercial awareness
  • Project management
  • Specialised learning

Find out more:
Visit the Start Up Loans website
Read the Press Notice

Free downloadable guides to starting a business
As well as the partnership and its pre-loan support and mentoring package, Start Up Loans has published a series of guides on important areas of business including social media, marketing and SEO. The guides, which can be downloaded free of charge from the Start Up Loans website, are designed to ensure business owners of all stripes have the resources they need to build and grow a successful business.

Download the guides

SWMAS (Manufacturing)

The Local Manufacturing Advisory Programme (LMAP) supports established manufacturing SMEs in the South West to understand and develop their capability and capacity to improve and grow. The programme offers a dedicated team of experienced Manufacturing Specialists with a broad range of expertise and resources.

Contact us
Our Dorset Gateway team is here to help you understand the range of business support available as well as offer advice on custom brokerage, workshops and more.