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What are RSA and R&D grants?

What are RSA and R&D grants?

A summary of different types of grants available for business funding, including Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) and research and development (R&D) grants.

Grant awards

Grants are awards made by national and local government bodies, and some private organisations to businesses.

If you receive an award, you can sometimes use the money in whatever way you want in your business. However, they are usually restricted to being used for specific purposes.

Grants may have specific deliverables, such as project achievements, and they can have deadlines attached to them as well.

Many project grants have pre-commitment rules which mean that your project that needs funding cannot have started before you have been awarded the grant. In most cases, you cannot rely on the grant funds as the sole source of funding for your project. You would need to show that you are able to fund your portion of the project’s costs as well.

Read more in our Growing your business section

Types of grants

There are three main types of grants:


These grants aim to improve the economy and/or create a positive social impact. The grants may state that the funds need to be used to hire new staff, or support an urban regeneration scheme.

Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) grants are an example of these types of grants.


These grants are designed to encourage businesses to participate in or work on projects that create new technologies and ideas.

The grants will have a specific development aim and you would bid for the grant by showing your ability to achieve that aim - they are typically offered by Scottish Enterprise, Innovate UK and the EU’s Horizon 2020 scheme.

Explore our most popular grants in our Growing your business section

R&D/innovation funding

These grants are awarded through schemes operated by Scottish Enterprise, Innovate UK and the Scottish Government.

You are given funding if your business is looking to test the feasibility of an idea, or creating a new product or service.

These are different to collaborative grants in two ways. In most cases with innovation funding you would apply for the grant and carry out the R&D project on your own. You would also set the terms and aim of the project.

Read more about R&D grants

Who is eligible?

Almost any business will be eligible for some type of grant. However, the grants available to your business will depend on the sector you operate in, the size of your business, and how you intend to use the funds.

For example, some innovation grants are only available to companies in technology sectors.

Some economic grants are only available to small or medium sized businesses or businesses who plan to create jobs

Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) grants

RSA grants are available to businesses in Scotland who want to develop a project in Scotland. The project should result in safeguarding jobs in Scotland.

These grants are open to most sectors and are worth £20,000 to £1 million.

Find out if you're eligible for support

Research and development (R&D) grants

R&D grants are awarded by Scottish Enterprise and Innovate UK. Our R&D grants are available to Scottish businesses working on significant innovation projects for their business. However, your project or process cannot have started before you applied for grant funding.

Most sectors are eligible for these grants.

Find out if your sector is eligible for R&D grants

Innovate UK also offers grants for the development of innovative products and services. Innovate UK offers this support through specific collaborative awards, or through open funding competitions.

Find out if you're eligible for innovation funding on GOV.UK 

Other grants options


Available to small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help you prove your idea, product or service will work.

Find out more about SMART: SCOTLAND

Collaborative grants

We offer collaborative grants for 2-6 companies per project. Academic institutions may form part of the consortium, but the consortium must be led by a company.

Innovate UK offers grant money through competitions that target specific development aims. These are usually won by highly technology-focused companies that operate within the specific sectors. Innovate UK R&D Innovation funding offers £25,000 to £10 million.

Find out more about Innovate UK

The European Union offers grant funding through Horizon 2020 competitions. To apply for these grants, you usually need to be part of a consortium of multiple organisations. This often includes academic institutions. As with Innovate UK collaborative projects, Horizon 2020 grants are usually awarded through competitions that focus on specific sectors.

Find out more about Horizon 2020

By Design grant

Your company may be eligible for a By Design grant to help improve design in your business. We can contribute between £2,000 and £5,000 to help you design new products, services or processes or to help you improve the design of existing ones.

Find out more about By Design

Make it to Market grant

Your company maybe eligible for a Make it to Market grant to help your business make your products ready for international exports. This grant is worth £2,000 to £5,000.

Find out more about Make it to Market

Grant terms and conditions

Most grants are paid in arrears, which means you need to pay out the expenses and reclaim them later.

Grants can also come with various terms or conditions.

For example, the final value of RSA grant you receive is dependent on your business meeting capital expenditure and job creation targets. Or, you may be awarded an RSA grant but fail to add the full number of jobs. In this case your final grant instalment is likely to be cut on a pro rata basis.

Innovation funding can also be linked to development milestones in a similar way.

Applying for grants

Your grant applications need to show that you have a cash shortfall that the grant will help.

Grant applicants usually need to show that they have looked for funding elsewhere and explain why other funding options weren’t possible. This may have included equity investment, property loans, invoice finance and asset finance.

More about our most popular grants in our Growing your business section

Got a question about accessing finance?

Get in touch with our team of experienced financial readiness experts who can help you secure funding from a range of sources including bank funding, equity funding, and grants.


This guide was written by our investment team who work with Scottish businesses and UK and international investors.