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Funding advice

Careers and Employability offers advice on funding bodies for graduates and students considering starting their own business. We also provide our own funding opportunities for UAL students and recent graduates to help kick-start businesses, or to recognise excellence in practice.

Funding opportunities

Public funding

Public funding usually takes the form of grants that you don’t have to pay back. It comes from the government and other public organisations.

  • Arts Council England
  • National Lottery Fund
  • Local authorities, councils
  • NESTA, etc
  • EU/EC funding
  • Start-Up loans

Private funding

  • Private funding covers areas like corporate social responsibility, marketing and PR, and private equity (shareholding). It’s possible that some funders may take a share in your business.
  • Corporate sponsorship and awards (e.g. Shell Livewire, etc.)
  • Venture Capitalists and Angel investors
  • Funding from individuals or trusts

There are sources of funding available from individuals or charitable organisations. There is usually no requirement to pay the funds back in this instance.

  • Charities, Trusts and Foundations (e.g. UnLtd, The Rothschild Foundation)
  • Individuals (philanthropy)
  • Personal contacts (also known as ‘friends, families and fools’)
  • Fundraising events
  • Crowd-funding

Careers and Employability

Careers and Employability offers a range of project and business funding opportunities.

Careers and Employability also offers business start-up support, mentoring and legal and IP guidance.

Funding opportunities include:

It’s not all about the money...

There are other types of ‘in-kind’ support that can be just as valuable and cash. Funding or support organisations may also be able to provide resources such as:

  • Manpower
  • Venues
  • Branding
  • Advertising and cross-promotion
  • Logistics
  • Networks
  • Expertise
  • Mentoring

Application advice

Funding applications can be time-consuming, but taking the time to prepare your application can pay off.

Each application will ask different questions. So while it's a good idea to have some core material ready, you'll need to tailor your answers to each individual application.

Read the criteria

Read through the application form and guidance to make sure you understand the funding criteria and what they are looking for and to make sure you’re eligible. Tick all the boxes, as your application may not be considered if you don't.

Mirror some of the same language that the funder uses in their guidelines, to show that you are following the criteria. If there is something you’re not clear about contact the funder to check.

Include basic information

  • Don’t assume the funder knows who you are or what you do. Give a clear overview of you and your work.
  • Check that you’ve included your name, address, contact details

Use evidence to back up your application

  • You should prove the success of a project or business by including statistics or harder evidence. This reassures funders that your claims are valid.
  • Provide exact figure, for things like how many items you’ve sold, how many people attended your event or which venues you’ve exhibited at.
  • It’s worth building in evaluation and evidence collection to your projects as you go.
  • This will help you when you need evidence to prove success of your project in the future. Remember to cite your source of evidence.


  • Make sure your project costs and activities are within the scope of the funding programme.
  • Having clear, calculated costs is an important part of your application.
  • Break down all the costs such as:
  • Your own time
  • Payment for others involved
  • Any materials
  • Workspace or venues
  • Marketing costs and evaluation

Go through the project in detail and think where there could be additional or hidden costs.

Funding bodies may want to know if you have approached any other funders or secured any other funding. Find out whether the funding body you are applying to prefers to be the sole funder or understands that there may be other investors. Give details of any other potential investors.

Give yourself plenty of time

Make sure you’ve left enough time to add documents such as budgets or to get material from collaborators, such as letters of support. Factor in that you might have to wait on others, to avoid missing the deadline.

Things can go wrong with both paper and online applications, so allow plenty of time for posting or submitting online. Set yourself an earlier deadline and submit early rather than taking it right up to the deadline.


Spend some time double-checking your application to make sure all information is accurate and there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Get someone else to read your application as well and feed back so you can make improvements.

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Find out about mentoring for students and recent graduates, run by Careers and Employability.