Financial device

Data Lab’s AI tool helps firms find funding support

Finding the right funding source can be a complex process

Scottish innovation centre, The Data Lab, has launched a free tool which uses AI to help businesses navigate the UK’s funding landscape.

Funding Finder matches businesses with the most appropriate funding bodies to best support their work.

The user-focused tool is designed to provide value quickly by guiding users through a simple three-staged online form. It creates a recommendation based on the available funding for which they are most likely to be eligible.

The launch of the tool follows a successful two-month pilot, tested exclusively with members of The Data Lab’s Community. The pilot received positive feedback, with a number of those who trialled the tool identifying new funding opportunities as a result. The Funding Finder is now available to businesses across the UK, with further scope to extend overseas.

Users of the tool will also benefit from tailored support, events news, weekly updates from the innovation centre and access to useful networks and connections, including the European Space Agency, UKRI, Innovate UK, and Find Business Support Scotland.

Adam Turner, head of external funding services at The Data Lab, said: “It’s impossible to ignore the crucial role grant funding plays for all stages of a business, but particularly during the start-up and scale-up phases.

“Scotland has always produced high-quality, innovative organisations and this is something we want to nurture with the deployment of this tool.

“While the funding landscape for SMEs is positive, the application process has never been straightforward. As well as being time-consuming, it’s often complex and, with no single central funding body, every application can be different.

“We regularly received feedback from our community that a lot of time was wasted applying for funding that simply wasn’t suitable or that particular organisations were unlikely to win. Our aim with Funding Finder is to overcome some of these common pitfalls by providing a one-stop-shop for funding, to make it more accessible for businesses.

The launch coincides with a new UK government service to help Britain’s 5.5 million SMEs save on their energy bills while reducing their emissions.

The UK Business Climate Hub includes a free carbon calculator and a suite of new tools to help businesses measure, track and report on their emissions and save money by using less energy.

The site offers detailed advice on everything from sourcing products from green suppliers and reducing emissions from freight and logistics to the most cost-effective ways of installing solar panels and electric vehicle (EV) charging points.

Studies show 85% of consumers are more likely to buy from a business with a reputation for sustainability.

Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Graham Stuart, said: “The UK has cut its emissions more than any other major economy in the world. More and more businesses are recognising the business benefits of reaching net zero and we’re determined to empower them to do so.”

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