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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.

We work with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to help you attract, select and keep students and graduates through funding, consultancy services and workshops.

ESF logo
Graduate employee

European Social Fund (ESF)

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.

  • Funding for SMEs based in the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Region

    Productivity Through Innovation

    Productivity Through Innovation (PTI) enables businesses to access a broad range of funding, services and support activities to improve their productivity and their market competitiveness.

    Developed in partnership with the University of Nottingham and University of Derby, the programme centres on improving the performance of the businesses involved. This programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

    Eligible businesses will be permitted to commit to a collaborative project with the University, who will provide a tailored support package that will pledge to improve productivity processes and quality, alongside enabling investment in new technologies.

    The collaboration will be designed to have maximum positive impact on your business. Benchmark productivity data will be gathered before and after this process to evaluate the impact and results of the support.

    This will be based on a detailed, two stage diagnostic, that focuses on 5 key productivity drivers:

    * Skills and Talent

    *Management and Leadership

    * Research and Development

    * Investment

    * International Trade

    Subject to eligibility, all support is part funded by the University and the European Regional Development Fund. The only cost is you is your time and commitment to improve, innovate and grow your business.

    For further information, please visit our Productivity Through Innovation page.

    Would you like to access higher level skills for your business?

    Our Grads4D2N2 programme in partnership with Derby college, Nottingham College, the University of Derby and Vision West Nottinghamshire College offers eligible SMEs in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire a complete package of free and subsidised support to help you benefit from NTU Talent and access higher-level skills.

    We can offer a £1000 grant to recruit a graduate to part-fund their salary for a 6 week period. For more information please contact and click to find out more about the Grads4D2N2 programme.

    Is your company growing at a rapid rate?

    If your company is growing at pace, the Upscaler programme could provide the support you need.

    UpScaler is focused on established successful businesses that are scaling up; have the potential to Scale-Up; or are ambitious to grow and Scale-Up. Through the UpScaler Project, eligible businesses will have access to a heavily subsidised and co-ordinated range of proven business support tools, practical support and a training programme, a proportion of which will be free with the remainder part-funded through a grant scheme.

    This covers graduate recruitment to fill the skills gaps which are holding your business back.  20% of the first 12 month’s salary for the graduate role (available for candidates up to 5 years post graduation) will be funded via the UpScaler project.

    UpScaler is supported by the European Regional Development Fund to support eligible SMEs in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.(D2N2 Area). For further information, please contact

  • Funding for SMEs- Nationwide

    Are you a UK-based SME looking for additional support for your business?

    The Santander scheme could be perfect for you.

    Santander is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs through various initiatives and awards. NTU have been working with Santander on their part-funded SME Internship programme. This is a nationwide initiative for eligible SMEs which allows access to a £1000 grant when recruiting an NTU graduate to part-fund their salary for a 6 week period. For more information and to find out how you can access the Talent at NTU please contact

Nottingham Trent University offers employers the opportunity to engage with our graduates who will bring fresh ideas, a new perspective and the latest skills and knowledge to help grow your business.

This is a perfect platform for you to take on a Nottingham Trent University’s graduate talent with funding support.

To find out more about funding opportunities and to see if you meet the eligibility criteria, contact us.

You can also visit Support for SMEs to see our full range of services and support to help your business grow.

2 boys and a girl looking at paper

Grads4D2N2 - Higher Level Skills

Our Grads4D2N2 programme offers eligible SMEs in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire a complete package of free and subsidised support to help you benefit from NTU Talent and access higher-level skills.

For eligible SME’s we will complete an Organisational Needs Analysis with you to really get to know you, your business and how we as a University can work with you. This will be through sign posting and referring to teams within the Grads4D2N2 project, but also to the wider team to work in partnership with each business individually.

Through the project this support can cover working with our Degree Apprenticeship team, being involved in tailored skills and development courses, workshops and webinars, involvement in events and job fairs, and linking in with a range of talent through undergraduate, graduate and post graduate support.

For companies recruiting a graduate into a graduate level role we can offer a £1000 grant to part-fund their salary for a 6 week period. For more information please contact

Big House Logo

The Big House Project

The Big House project aims to support creative and digital SMEs within the D2N2 area. The project offers a wide range of free events and workshops specifically designed to meet the needs of creative and digital businesses.

Alongside this tailored business support, the Big House offers a 20% salary contribution over the first 12 months of a graduate hire.

Who is eligible?

Small and medium-sized enterprises are eligible for support.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (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

Still need help?

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