Grants come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and are typically awarded to projects that are involved in matters of public interest. Most grants are awarded to nonprofit and community oriented organizations.
There are three types of grants:
- Federal government grants
- State government grants
- Local grants
Of these, state governments and local agencies are the most likely to award grants to small businesses. Government grants are rarely given to small businesses, except where they serve scientific and economic development interests.
Government grants can be substantial, and ought not be disregarded during your search for funding. Small businesses that are seeking funding for an app will have a tough time acquiring a government grant, unless their app deals with one of the larger issues listed here.
Please note that typically, government grants are intended to fund highly specific interests, such as education, disaster prevention, and scientific research. They are not given with the intention of starting or expanding a business, but rather as a stimulus for businesses involved in the enrichment of the economy or scientific research.
You can visit the SBA Loans & Grants Portal to learn more about federal and state grants, however you will have to contact local officials for information on local grants. The Access Financing portal is also available to help you search for relevant grants.
Federal Government Grants
Federal grants are among the most difficult to obtain as a small business, as most federal grants are awarded to research and educational institutions. There are a number of government agencies that offer grants for different purposes.
Small businesses involved in scientific R&D may qualify for either the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) or programs. STTR and SBIR are competitive programs that award small businesses a percentage of the federal R&D funding budget for involvement in Federal research and/or development.
State Government Grants
Unlike federal grants, information on state government grants is much scarcer. The best option for learning more about state grant opportunities for small businesses is to get in contact with government officials and congressional offices directly.
State governments are more likely to award grants to small businesses than the federal government, as they are closer to the resultant effects. State grants may be awarded to small businesses in order to stimulate growth in areas that will help the local economy, for example.
Where federal and state governments are more likely to award grants to educational and research institutions than to small businesses, municipal governments and local agencies will give small business applicants a fighting chance.
For example, in Chicago, the Small Business Improvement Fund aims to give new and expanding businesses in select neighborhoods access to funding in order to help improve the quality of their properties and, in turn, their neighborhoods.
In order for small businesses to receive local grant funding for an app, there are a number of things that they can do:
- Choose a service or community oriented direction with the app
- Consider serving a vulnerable population, such as an impoverished community
- Create an app that attempts to improve the health of the local (or national) population
- Consider taking your app in a direction that promotes environmental development + education
There are thousands of grants offered through municipal governments and local agencies across the United States.
This article is part of a series. Read more here: