As the International Fund Administrator (IFA), we’re helping small businesses to build capability to internationalise by digitally enabling the disbursement of £38m in co-investment to small and medium sized businesses (SMEs).
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Internationalisation Fund is run by the Department for International Trade (DIT). Until March 2023, the Fund will make available up to £38m of co-investment grants to SMEs to help them expand their capability to internationalise.
DIT required a simple and easy to use application and claims process.
We designed a simplified, consistent way for SMEs to apply for funds and introduced automation with our centralised digital grants management platform called GrantIS™. We digitally manage everything from application to payment, which has reduced administration costs and made it easier for SMEs to apply.
Simplifying the application process
Most ERDF support to SMEs for international trade was previously delivered in a variety of different ways. Data on the progress of fund disbursements was collected from multiple sources and in different formats.
We worked in partnership with DIT, to build on the GrantIS platform to provide a single centralised digital solution, including the conversion of complex EU regulations into simpler, coherent eligibility criteria. This has improved consistency and made it easier for SMEs to apply for the grants. They can access all the information they need and apply online. SMEs are supported in the first instance by DIT’s International Trade Advisors (ITAs) and subsequently by Capita as the IFA in real-time, via online email and telephone assistance, as the business completes their application, and, eventually, submits a claim.
We’re now distributing funds with an average value of £7,600 disbursed to each SME. Around 200 SMEs apply each month, of which 90% of applications are approved immediately.
Few people have unresolved queries, meaning the volume of follow-up calls to DIT is lower than comparable grant funded schemes. This reduces the end cost of scheme.
The DIT policy team receives access to real-time data through GrantIS, allowing them to make timely decisions and check the performance of the funds. This agile approach is helping DIT to make better-informed decisions and shape its future grant strategy.
GrantIS provides a clear audit-trail on all activities. It has considerable fraud-detection capabilities, leveraging the Cabinet Office’s Spotlight tool, allowing the team to rapidly spot irregularities and take appropriate action. Built on Salesforce’s Lightning Platform, the solution is highly flexible and can be easily adapted to accommodate for changes in Government policy.
We are continuing to work with DIT to ensure that funds are getting to the SMEs who need it most and helping them to grow. We are conducting analytics on the information captured and collecting data from DIT’s ITAs and grant recipients to track outcomes and create a series of reports to identify trends.
The ERDF Internationalisation Fund provides a great new opportunity for us to help 7,600 high growth potential SMEs in England. The combination of expert advice from our ITAs and the new digital solution using GrantIS™ is improving access to funding, which means we can support more SMEs to build business capability to sell overseas.
Duncan Adams, Deputy Director, ERDF Internationalisation Fund - Department for International Trade