Having a marvellous, ground-breaking, innovative idea for a new product or business is a wonderful thing. A new jet-ski, microscope, medical device design, umbrella – whatever it is you can surely feel proud of your originality and inventiveness. But there’s a stumbling block, or at least a major hurdle, to overcome before you see your dream come to fruition. To be blunt, it’s money.
How are you going to fund the research, design, tooling, marketing and all the rest of it? Just because you’ve had a good idea, it doesn’t make you suddenly wealthy.
Don’t despair, all is not lost. Funding for new product ideas and inventions is available. You just need to know where to look – and that’s where Bluefrog can help.
As you might imagine, grant funding is changing all the time. But essentially there are national, regional and local schemes available, these often run between one to five years – such as Innovate UK. However, it’s not as simple as just holding out a hand. These programmes are often ‘match’ based. So whatever you put in, an agreeable funder may contribute up to 25% – 40% of that amount.
Funders examine many different aspects of your enterprise before reaching a decision, and employment is particularly key. Demonstrate that you will be creating or sustaining jobs, and grant funding will be that much easier to come by. Of course, if you’re a start-up, that’s unlikely to be the case – so where does that leave you? Fortunately, there are still options open. Bluefrog can take you through the variety of alternatives to grant funding for your innovation, such as crowd-funding – mentoring you through the process, even if you have no employees. We can offer support and advice on accessing the right type of funding. Indeed, many of the projects on which we’ve worked have involved a finding process.
For example, BIKEsystems came to us with a challenge. Develop their BIKEhud system from concept to manufacture within 12 months, and claim the title of the world’s first ‘head-up display’ system for motorcycles on the market. We took the challenge and, thanks to sourcing the right backing, a year later BIKEsystems launched BIKEhud, claiming the prize.
So, where does one start on the journey of accessing grant funding for your product design? The first step should really be to consult an expert. Having someone on board who really understands the arena, and knows exactly where the backing is, can be an utterly invaluable advocate. If you’re going to be successful, a proper advisor will enable you to ‘tick all the boxes’. This is a very competitive enterprise and meeting all the grant scheme pre-requisites is essential.
Crowd funding is slightly different but no less challenging. Via an online process, you are required to pitch your concept to small investors. In return, they receive a reward or shares in your venture. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, but with the appropriate guidance (and a great deal of time and effort!) it can prove to be incredibly effective.
Whichever route you decide to take, it’s crucial not to overvalue your business – even if you have an impressive trading record, and be aware of all the costs you’re likely to accrue bringing your idea to market. Remember, a good idea fills a particular requirement, but you need to be adept at conveying that concept at a demonstrable level, such as a prototype, intellectual property or extensive marketing. With our support, that’s exactly what you’ll have. You’ll also need all your numbers completely and accurately established, to a highly professional business level.
Funders are serious, and sometimes rather conservative people. So, while they’ll be pleased to see your passion and enthusiasm, they’ll be even more concerned their money is going to a venture with an excellent chance of real commercial success. With our help, that’s exactly what you can bring to the table.