How To Apply

Applications for Cohort 5 are now closed.

If you would like to express an interest and find out more about the next cohort please, contact the team at or 0121 204 3225


Application Guidance


Under ERDF guidelines, businesses in the agricultural, retail and charity sectors are not eligible for this programme. Please contact 0121 204 3225 to find out what other programmes Aston University offers.


What is State Aid?

State aid is any advantage granted by public authorities through state resources on a selective basis to any organisations that could potentially distort competition and trade in the European Union (EU).

The definition of state aid is very broad because ‘an advantage’ can take many forms. It is anything which an undertaking (an organisation engaged in economic activity) could not get on the open market.

A company is allowed to receive up to €200,000 of De Minimis aid over a three fiscal year period for most sectors. (Transport sector is restricted to €100,000).

As this programme is operating under the De Minimis State Aid regulation, in order for your business to be accepted on to the programme, you are required to declare all State Aid you have received over the last 36 months.  Information and guidelines on how to calculate this are below.

To complete section 6 of the application form you must declare the full amount of aid, from any public source, and in any format, you have already received over the last 36 months. You must declare all aid received, whether it was De Minimis aid or exempted aid. Please be explicit in your explanation of what the aid you received has been used for.

The following is not a comprehensive list of the possible forms of aid, however, it should give an indication of the most common forms of aid, which you may have received over the past three years. Potentially, any assistance from a public body might be an aid. Should you have any doubts on this matter, please contact the body from which the assistance was received:

  • Grants from public bodies.
  • Loans from public bodies at favourable rates.
  • Loan guarantees from public bodies.
  • Differential tax benefits.
  • Grants from an investment trust (including charities) which may themselves have received the funds from a public body.
  • Investment from a part publicly funded venture capital fund.
  • Publicly administered funds, even if the funds were originally not public such as the national lottery.
  • Landfill tax.
  • Waiving or deferral of fees or interest normally due to a public body such as the waiving or deferral of rent or waiver of interest normally due on late payment of taxation or other costs to a public body.
  • Monopoly licences or guarantees of market share.
  • Advertising via a public channel such as a tourist board or state-owned television.
  • Consultancy advice provided either free or at a reduced rate.
  • Training provided either free or at a reduced rate.
  • Aid for investment in environmental projects.
  • Provision of a free or reduced rate feasibility study for research and development or other assistance with research and development.
  • Purchase of public land or property at a less than market rate
  • Benefiting from the provision of infrastructure where your organisation was pre-identified as a beneficiary.

These types of aid may have been provided under De Minimis (as De Minimis aid) or under another State Aid regulation. If you are in any doubt whether aid received was De Minimis aid or about its value, check with the organisation, which provided it. If they are unable to say or there is any uncertainty, assume that it was De Minimis aid unless its value exceeded €200,000 in which case it cannot have been.

Any De Minimis aid awarded to you under this project will have to be declared if you apply, or have applied, for any other public funding. Therefore, if successful, you must retain all correspondence referring to De Minimis State Aid, to enable you to produce it on any request by a UK public authority or when applying for other funding/support. Please note you may need to keep correspondence for longer than 10 years.


This programme is dedicated to supporting SMEs achieve growth and create job roles within the Midlands.

SME definition:

An SME is an enterprise which employs less than 250 persons and has an annual turnover that does not exceed 50 million Euros, and/or an annual balance sheet total that does not exceed 43 million Euros.

All participants on the programme must be an SME and therefore all applications must complete section 7 – SME declaration of the application form.


The Aston Early Stage Business Growth Programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).