Wherever you are on the scaling journey, there are a wealth of UK government resources and services that can help you grow your digital business faster and more efficiently.
Last updated on 25/06/2021
Starting and growing your business
Transforming an idea into a reality can seem overwhelming. Knowing where to start and building strong foundations on which to grow your digital business are key.
- Starting a business– The first steps to get you going
- Plan ahead– From writing a business plan to registering for tax, some more helpful guidance as you’re setting up
- Growing a business – A step-by-step guide on how to start growing your business
- Getting advice – MentorsMe is excellent for helping you find a business mentor who has ‘been there and done that’
- Help to Grow: Digital – A new UK-wide scheme to help 100,000 SMEs boost productivity and performance through discounted software and impartial advice.
- Help to Grow: Management – Launching in December, a world-leading management skills training programme to upskill 30,000 SMEs across the UK over three years.
- Innovate UK EDGE – Bespoke support to help innovative businesses grow, scale and commercialise new ideas.
Having a clear grasp of finance is one of the cornerstones of a successful scaling tech business. These resources will help you understand the range of financial support available to you – from wider business to the more tech-specific.
- Business finance guide – What kind of finance and support is available for your business?
- Public sector financial support – A useful directory of government-backed support options, both local and national.
- UKRI– The government-backed UK Research & Innovation is the national funding agency investing in science and research in the UK. Includes a handy funding finder.
- Start Up Loan – Apply for a government-backed Start Up Loan of £500 to £25,000 to start or grow your business.
- Innovate UK – Part of the government-backed UKRI, Innovate UK funding and support helps innovative businesses develop new products, services, and processes.
- British Business Bank – The government-owned business development bank dedicated to making finance markets work better for smaller businesses through an array of targeted loans and grants.
- Future Fund Breakthrough – Delivered by British Business Bank, this £375m UK-wide scheme will encourage private investors to co-invest with government in high-growth, innovative firms.
- Net Zero Innovation Portfolio – A £1 billion government fund for low-carbon technologies and systems.
- Horizon Europe – UK businesses, innovators and researchers are still able to access billions of pounds of funding through the EU’s Horizon Europe programme.
- Business Growth Fund – One of the UK’s most active independent investors in SMEs in the UK providing long term capital for fast-growing companies.
- Better Business Finance – Impartial information and support to businesses and entrepreneurs looking to develop and grow. Set up by a coalition of the UK’s largest financial institutions.
- ICAEW Business Advice Service – This initiative run by the ICAEW connects entrepreneurs, SMEs and scaleups with accountancy firms they can trust.
Running your business
From data protection to patents, these resources should help you navigate regulatory waters.
- Running a business – A handy list of resources you’ll need to run your business smoothly.
- Intellectual property – An overview from the Intellectual Property Office covering trademarks, patents, copyright, design and relevant laws and practices.
- Data protection – A guide to data protection from the Information Commissioner’s Office, including everything from GDPR to a self assessment toolkit.
- Cyber security – Government guidance for small businesses on how to put cyber security measures in place. See also Cyber Essentials Scheme.
- Data ethics and AI guidance – This page collates the various existing ethical principles for data and AI, developed by government and public sector sector bodies.
- Age appropriate design – A code of practice for online services set out by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Organisations are required to conform by 2nd September 2021.
- Using internet services – Advice for businesses from Ofcom on using internet services, including guidance on what to do if things go wrong.
- Q&A guide – A Q&A guide to doing digital business in the UK from Thomson Reuters and Bird & Bird, with a high level overview of matters relating to regulations and regulatory bodies.
The government provides tax aid through a range of investment and support schemes which could help your business.
- R&D tax reliefs – A guide to the research and development tax reliefs available to support companies working on innovative projects in science and technology.
- Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) – For startups and early stage companies, this provides private investors with income tax relief of 50% against the amount invested.
- Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) – Similar to SEIS but for more mature scaling companies, this offers 30% income tax relief for private investors.
- Super-deduction – Companies investing in qualifying new plant and machinery assets will be able to cut their tax bill by up to 25p for every £1 they invest.
- Patent Box Scheme – Designed to encourage companies to keep and commercialise intellectual property in the UK, this scheme could enable a reduced rate of 10% corporation tax.
A digital economy requires digital skills. Upskilling your existing team and supporting the next generation of talent may well help you stay ahead of the curve.
- The Skills Toolkit – Free online training courses to help you and employees develop digital skills fit for the future economy, from computer essentials to coding.
- Digital Boost – A government-backed programme of free mentoring, workshops, courses and content to help you understand digital better. Delivered with companies including Google and BT.
- Digital Skills Partnership – Public, private and charity sector partnership to improve the digital capability of individuals and organisations in England.
- Kickstart Scheme – The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit.
- Apprenticeships – An employer guide to recruiting an apprentice.
- Employment laws – Acas provides employees and employers with free, impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice, as well as training and dispute resolution.
- Digital Business Academy – And don’t forget Tech Nation’s own Digital Business Academy provides free digital business courses built collaboratively with the likes of UCL and EY.
- Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit – And also Tech Nation’s D&I Toolkit providing actionable insights and guidance to help founders build diverse and inclusive companies.
As your company grows, you may increasingly look overseas for the brightest and best tech talent to boost your ranks. There are multiple visa routes which may be of use.
- Visas – A general guide to UK visas for those looking to work in the UK and employers seeking to employ talent from overseas, including details on the points-based immigration system.
- Tech Nation Visa – Administered by Tech Nation, this visa route enables the brightest and best tech talent from around the world to come and work in the UK tech sector.
- Innovator Visa – A new visa route for international entrepreneurs looking to set up and run an innovative business in the UK.
- Global Entrepreneur Programme – Run under the GREAT campaign, this programme helps high-growth overseas companies relocate to the UK.
- Turing Artificial Intelligence Fellowships– a £46 million government initiative aimed at attracting and maintaining the best talent in artificial intelligence.
Expanding into overseas markets is a natural progression for scaleups as they grow and mature. There are a number of government programmes and resources which can help you in this part of your scaling journey.
- Brexit transition – A government self-checker providing businesses with tailored transition guidance and actions to take.
- Digital sector and the EU – A collection of tech sector-specific guidance for working with and operating in the European Union, including selling services, data and funding.
- Importing and exporting – Step-by-step guides on importing, exporting and customs for businesses.
- Digital Trade Network – Tech Nation is working with the Department for International Trade on a Digital Trade Network to enhance the ability of UK digital companies to export and connect with international customers and investors.
- DCMS International Tech Hub Network – The International Tech Hub Network works to forge innovation partnerships between the UK and international tech sectors.
- The GREAT campaign – Part of the Department for International Trade, this programme helps you find new global markets for your business – and enables international businesses to invest and trade in the UK, too.
Public procurement was worth 12% of global GDP in 2018 and the government is increasingly looking to tech companies for goods, services and talent.
- Digital Marketplace – A database for finding technology or people for digital projects in the public sector, including details on how to become a supplier.
- GovTech Catalyst – A £20 million fund to help solve public sector challenges using innovative digital tech.
- Contracts Finder – This lets you search for information about contracts worth over £10,000 with the government and its agencies.
- Find a Tender – A service to search and apply for high value contracts worth over £118,000 in the UK’s public sector.
- Net Zero – From September, businesses will be required to commit to net zero by 2050 before they can bid for major government contracts.
- AI procurement – Guidance and best practice around acquiring artificial intelligence technologies in government.
- No.10 Innovation Fellowships – A new flagship programme seeking to attract top talent from the tech sector to digitally transform the delivery of public services and solve problems.
Government departments and agencies
More information on relevant government departments and agencies can be found here.
- DCMS – The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport is responsible for building a digital economy. Includes 10 Tech Priorities and Project Gigabit.
- BEIS – The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy are building a stronger, greener future, unleashing innovation and making the UK a great place to work and do business. Will include the new Advanced Research & Invention Agency.
- HM Treasury – The government’s economic and finance ministry, setting the direction of the UK’s economic policy.
- Home Office – Fundamental for security and economic prosperity, including setting visa policy to enable international tech talent to work in the UK.
- DIT – The Department for International Trade promotes and finances international trade and investment. Includes the Digital Trade Network and the GREAT campaign.
- Cabinet Office – The corporate HQ for government, includes the Declaration on Government Reform which aims to reshape government with tech and data-based decision making.
- Office for AI – A joint DCMS-BEIS unit responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of artificial intelligence policy. Includes the National AI Strategy and AI Sector Deal.
- Office for Science and Tech Strategy – Based in the Cabinet Office, this will drive forward the strategy of Whitehall’s science and technology priorities and support the National Science and Technology Council, chaired by the Prime Minister.
- Government Office for Science – Ensures that government policies and decisions are informed by the best scientific evidence and strategic long-term thinking.
- CDEI – The Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation connects policymakers and industry to develop the right governance regime for data-driven technologies.
- IPO – The Intellectual Property Office responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, trademarks and copyright.
- ICO – The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- UKRI – UK Research and Innovation is the national funding agency investing in science and research in the UK. Includes Innovate UK.
- Digital Catapult – Digital Catapult is the innovation centre which connects scaleups, government and other stakeholders to accelerate the adoption of new and emerging technologies.