Finance · 2 September 2015

Advice on getting a grant to fund technological innovation

Warren Fauvel revealed the criteria for applying for a grant often was not clear
Warren Fauvel revealed the criteria for applying for a grant often was not clear

Warren Fauvel founded Nudjed as a personalised online health and wellbeing platform aimed at busy professionals and organisations. The technology measures an organisation’s overall health and then tailors advice on an individual level to ensure the wellbeing of employees.

Having received early grant support from the Welsh government’s Digital Development Fund it then secured further rounds of investment totalling more than £275,000. To find out more, Business Advice quizzed Fauvel on securing financial support in the form of grant finance – and seed funding – in order to accelerate the growth of a tech startup.

(1) Please tell us a little about your business?

Nudjed was founded just over two years ago to help organisations create better health and wellness programs. Our personalised online health and wellbeing platform is aimed at busy professionals and organisations, in which we measure an organisation’s overall health using our technology and then tailor advice on an individual level to ensure the wellbeing of employees.  We currently employ eight people and sell to a host of well-known organisations – from the NHS to GoCompare.

(2) What led to you applying for grant funding?

We applied for funding to help us develop our data analysis tools, which we call “The Algorithim of You”. This tool helps us to understand what people want to do about their health and is unique compared to the rest of the market, who focus on an individual’s weight or how many steps they’ve completed in a day.

(3) Was it hard to find right grant funding to fit your business?

Although it wasn’t necessarily hard to find, the criteria for applying for a grant often was not clear. This meant we had to invest the time into doing a little digging to see if we met the criteria and more importantly, if we even wanted the grant on offer.

(4) What went into the process of applying for the grant – was it a time-consuming process?

This depends on how you term time-consuming. For “free money” the process was quite simple, however, it wasn’t as easy as it could have been. As such we found that the administration burden was higher than we expected.

We submitted a project proposal and cash flow projections, which were both almost obsolete before submission. Our fund managers understood this though and have been accommodating.

(5) What will the finance allow you to do now?

Most grants are match funded, in arrears. So the reality is, not a lot straight away. The grant we took helped us to invest in future developments of the product. But it was important we had the working capital to cover that cash flow first.

(6) Do you think there is enough grant funding out there for businesses of your size?

I don’t know if there is but I don’t care either. If grants are there, we will apply for them. If not, Nudjed will fund itself through other methods. Grants should support the areas of an economy that offer significant social, or economic value to a region but won’t develop without support. I believe it’s the government’s job to take a macro view of this and invest appropriately.

(7) What tips would you give to anyone looking for grant funding?

Don’t let it change your business model or proposition – grants aren’t customers. Entrepreneurs should make a conscious effort to get themselves “out there” and meet real and potential customers. Selling and learning is almost always more important than applying for a grant. Networking events like Venturefest Wales, which aims to bring together entrepreneurs and innovators with the investors that could provide financial backing and support to their business, offers a real opportunity to secure funding or at the very least, gain valuable advice.

(8) What are the biggest challenges you face as a business builder?

Building the business! Growth is always uncomfortable. If it’s not, you’re either lucky, a genius or you’re not growing. Building companies is often about getting appropriate resource in place, just before you need it – figuring out the next most important bit is a constant challenge.

Warren Fauvel was speaking ahead of Venturefest Wales 2015, an event that brings entrepreneurs, investors and innovative companies together to inspire business growth.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

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