How to choose a grant writer – part II

September 4, 2021

In my last how to choose a grant writer blog I took a closer look at the various fee options available to organisations seeking to engage a professional grant writer.

It is fair to say that there are more factors to consider when choosing which grant writing company or freelance grant writer you want to work with. In this article we’ll take a closer look at how you can differentiate between grant writing services on more than just fees. 

An experienced grant writer is critical to success (and efficiency).

There are many R&D grant funding opportunities out there – at any one time there are 10+ live R&D grant calls from Innovate UK and 200+ open Horizon Europe grants. The grant writer you choose to work with should have experience of writing successful applications to the grant you are targeting.

This means that you need to know which R&D grant you are targeting, which will involve some research and reading – but it will be worth it.

Try asking your potential grant writers the following questions:

  1. Have you written applications to this fund before? Did you submit any for the last round? Are you working on applications for this round?
  2. How do you make sure you keep your success rates as high as possible? 
  3. How much time and input will you need from me during the drafting process? How do you manage the process?
  4. Which grant writers will be assigned to my project? Are they the most experienced in your team? (when engaging a firm).

My final thought is on experience – don’t be afraid to use different grant writers for different grant funding bodies – writing an Innovate UK grant application is very different from writing an EIC Accelerator grant application. 

Get the right expertise.

Take a look at your own team – are you mainly technical/scientific or commercially minded? Perhaps you have the skills to draft detailed technical content, but lack the market research / business modelling experience, or visa-versa. Make sure to find a grant writer that fills the gaps in your team. Remember that a successful R&D grant application must balance technical innovation and commercial potential. 

The human factor.

Have a video call or face-2-face meeting with the potential grant writers – do you like them? This might sound a bit glib, but it matters. Did you get a good impression? Did they seem excited about your technology? Did they ask intelligent questions or make helpful suggestions during the meeting? Fundamentally, did you have the feeling after the meeting that you would make a good team? Make sure to ask if the person you had the meeting with is the grant writer – perhaps it was the business development person?

Remember – the grant writer is also choosing you.

The best grant writers are busy, in demand from their existing clients and being approached with new opportunities. They are grateful for your business of course and it is very likely they are keen to work with you – but they also have a choice.

From a grant writer’s perspective, it is impressive to see a 1-2 page project summary, a company pitch deck or a market research report – it also helps in the drafting process to align quickly with your company. My advice – give a little to get a lot.

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Alex has over 15 years of experience in founding and running businesses, the most recent company having raised over £50m in funding for businesses based across the globe. He has a thorough knowledge of business funding options and can draw on many successful consultancy engagements to bring impetus to venturing. Alex has now set his focus on working with entrepreneurial teams looking to make a positive impact on the climate crisis and the broader UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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