How I successfully won an R&D grant for my business

elements-Oliver-Pennington-100Oliver Pennington is the co-founder of ServiceSeeking, a company that allows users to search for quotes provided by different types of services businesses. The business is thriving, with turnover of $3.7 million.

Part of the company’s growth can be attributed to its successful applications for research and development grants – several of them. Pennington spoke to SmartCompany about the motivation behind applying for the grants, and advice for any business that wants to do the same.

So how is ServiceSeeking going these days?

The mood is good, we’ve had the best quarter we’ve ever had, which is great. All of our numbers are up, and jobs are up as well. Site traffic, consumer activity and consumer engagement on the website is also up.

That’s where we want to be at this point. If we’re not growing, then we’d be a little bit concerned. We’re still a young business, so if we’re not getting substantial, high double-digit growth in most categories, you’re probably not working hard enough.

Can you describe what the business was like when you first considered an R&D grant?

When we first started we were really naïve. We knew we conceptually had a business with a good market and we knew that it felt right. But like any new business it’s not well capitalised, so after a while we had to really look at what we were doing.

So we looked at the ways we could save money, or bring additional capital into the business. We looked at it in some depth, and negotiated with creditors some better payment terms.

What was your first port of call?

We went and did some research about the R&D grant, which we didn’t know anything much about at the start. We did get knocked back from a few other grants, but the R&D concession was one that we were really in the zone for.

At that time it was open to any business that was taking a technical risk developing software that could be commercialised. And I’m not an R&D specialist by any regard, but what they wanted was stuff with an unproven business model. If you can’t get something off the shelf, your development with the intent of commercialising it is what they want to find.

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