Fund title: EU funding for rural businesses

Focus of fund/fund aims:

Funding for small rural businesses for capital investment in food processing, rural tourism infrastructure and business development. Deadline extended to 31 May 2018.


Application deadline:

31 May 2018

Fund description:

There are opportunities for rural businesses to access EU funding to help them to grow and innovate: grants are available through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for food processing, rural tourism infrastructure and business development.

The funding is intended for projects that create jobs and help businesses to grow, innovate and reach new markets. The grants are for capital projects and can cover up to 40% of eligible costs – the remainder needs to be private-sector ‘match funding’ eg. savings, bank loan. The minimum grant is £35,000. (For rural tourism infrastructure there are 100% grants available for projects which do not generate income, see below)

The details have been published at national level with a prospectus for each of the three themes but there are ringfenced allocations for each participating Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and some local priorities for the funding. Applicants should read the relevant prospectus carefully for full details of the national and local priorities.

Food processing: £7,540,000 across the Heart of the South West (HotSW) LEP area for food and drink businesses processing agricultural and horticultural products. For the HotSW LEP, particular consideration will be given to projects relating to recognised food clusters/assets in the area eg. Bath & West Showground, Holsworthy agri-business centre.

Rural tourism infrastructure: £2,088,555 in the HotSW area for capital investments in new or enhanced rural tourism assets and infrastructure to encourage tourist spend in the rural economy. If the project is commercial and intended to make a profit, only small businesses and farmers who want to diversify can apply. If the project is not expected to make a profit, a wide range of organisations can apply, including businesses, farmers, groups representing rural communities, charities and public bodies: for non-profit projects, grants can cover up to 100% of costs.

In the Heart of the South West LEP area, the aim is to expand the tourism offer based on food and drink tourism, culture and heritage, and the distinctive natural landscape of the LEP area, including Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.

Business development: £2,784,740 in the HotSW area to support the development of small rural businesses (including social enterprises) and farmers diversifying into non-agricultural activities. The focus is on increasing business productivity, creating higher-skilled jobs, innovating and reaching new markets, particularly export markets.

Contact the Rural Payments Agency if you would like to discuss your project or would like advice: Helpline 03000 200 301  or

The deadline for Expressions of Interest has been extended to 31 May 2018. The final date by which all projects must be finished, paid for and complete grant claims submitted, is 31 December 2020.

Further information: