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Funding and support for SMEs

We have a range of services and funding solutions to help small medium enterprises (SMEs) with their recruitment needs.

Attendees at the Market Intelligence: Talent in Creative workshop

We are here to support your business, so alongside our graduate funding options, we offer a diverse range of preliminary support and services. These include in-depth diagnostics to understand your business needs and analyses into your current recruitment strategies. We also provide opportunities to collaborate with our academics and our Knowledge Exchange team, access our R&D facilities, and attend free B2B workshops.


Who is eligible?

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the D2N2* area are eligible for support via our projects.

SMEs are defined as:

  • less than 250 employees and either:
    • annual turnover less than EUR 50 million or
    • annual balance sheet less than EUR 43 million

Funded Projects

At NTU we want to help support you when looking for new staff to fill skills gaps, help innovate and move your business forward.

As an SME based either within the Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire area or nationwide, we can offer funding to help you recruit our NTU graduates and talent through several support streams.

  • Productivity Through Innovation

    European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

    A bespoke package of support for SMEs which identifies and addresses potential opportunities and/or barriers to business growth and productivity. SMEs undergo a deep-dive into their business via a diagnostic process which allows them to gain new insights and provides action points to integrate into strategic planning. Stemming from this, we offer an academic collaboration project and guidance on new service or product planning and delivery, alongside a 20% graduate talent grant over a 12-month period to further drive productivity.


    Visit this page to find out more about how the PTI programme has supported local SME, Rise & Recline.

  • Big House

    European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

    A programme offering a suite of services to SMEs in D2N2’s creative and digital space. With targeted event series, SMEs expand their network via peer-learning groups, access high-quality mentoring from industry experts, fast-track their ideas, and open doors to new opportunities. In support of our SMEs’ growth ambitions, we offer a 20% talent grant towards the first 12-months of a graduate hire.

  • Grads4D2N2 - High Level Skills

    This support is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund

    European Social Fund (ESF)

    Providing SMEs in D2N2 with a complete package of free and subsidised support to help them benefit from local talent. We conduct Organisational Needs Assessments (ONA) with every SME engaged in the project, to fully understand and advise on how high-level skills could support their business. We offer six-week part-funded graduate talent grants of £1,000 to help SMEs plug skills gaps, drive innovation, and thrive within our local economy. The ESF project also is facilitating employer workshops around sustainability in relation to graduate talent.

  • Santander

    We are proud to be part of the International Santander Universities Network. We source and create part-funded internships and placement opportunities for our own undergraduates and graduates, both locally and nationwide. This year, we are offering £1,000 to help part-fund a graduate hire for a six-week period. Businesses can hire up to three graduates via this scheme.

Students on campus

Local Initiatives

We strongly encourage our Nottingham-based SME community to get involved with our local employability initiatives, such as Grads4Nottm and the Nottingham’s Digital Marketing Academy.


Employer toolkits and guidance documentation

We recognise that many SMEs are sometimes new to recruiting graduates, so we also provide supplementary toolkits and guidance documentation to take you through the process from start to finish. We provide tips and tricks on how to attract talent, things to consider during the selection process, and even appraisal tools to plug straight into your business.

To book a 1-2-1 consultation with a member of our Employer Engagement team, please contact us.

Still need help?

Employability Business Development Team
+44 (0)115 848 2189