Grants for Clean Technology Guidebook
When is the best time to apply for a clean tech grant?

When should you apply for a grant for your clean tech business? Ideally, not when you’re desperate for cash to support a new project or hire.

Executive Summary

  • The best time to apply for a grant is when you don’t really need it.
  • Plan ahead to identify funding opportunities that align with your business goals. 
  • Stay informed by subscribing to funder newsletters so that you aren’t caught off by changes to program deadlines or rules.

When should you apply for a grant for your clean tech business? Ideally, not when you’re desperate for cash to support a new project or hire. 

Grant funding can help you take your small business to new heights, but the best time to apply for grants is when you don’t really need them. Plan ahead, and identify projects that you would undertake or accelerate if you had access to additional funding. Then you can keep an eye out for funding opportunities that align with your project ideas. 

If you’re hiring new staff, consider whether or not you need a grant to support the hire. The answer to this question will influence your hiring process, as some roles (and some candidates) are more grantable than others. Whenever possible, develop roles that align with your business’s needs and with available funding opportunities–and if a role is grant-reliant, make sure to communicate that to candidates. 

We don’t recommend overspending on a business initiative because you’re hoping for reimbursement from a grant that hasn’t been approved yet. Remember, nothing is guaranteed until the funding agreement has been signed, and the approval might take longer than you think! To get a better grasp on how timing plays into grant strategy, let’s tackle some common misconceptions about small business grants.

Misconception 1: Grants are available all the time.

You can approach your bank at any time to apply for a loan, but grants don’t work in quite the same way. While there are many grants out there, the specific grant you need to support a project or hire probably isn’t available year-round. Most grants have application deadlines, and we’ve learned from experience that these deadlines change. It’s not uncommon for a program to exhaust all funding before the application deadline, and sometimes, programs receive additional funding that allows them to extend their application window. Stay informed by subscribing to funder newsletters, and checking program websites regularly for updates.  

Misconception 2: Grants do not change.

Business owners are often surprised to find out that the rules for a program they applied to in the past have changed, but believe us, it happens all the time. Programs are constantly adjusting their targets, processes, and evaluation criteria, and this can mean new rules for each new intake. This is why you never want to dive into a grant application without reviewing the program documents. You don’t want to waste time building an application around a project that turns out to be ineligible, and what was eligible last time might not be eligible this time!

Misconception 3: It takes a long time to get grant funding.

If you’re submitting a major R&D or market expansion grant, it could take months to find out if you’ll get the money, but not all grants have such lengthy turnaround times. Some hiring grants can be processed in just a few days, as long as you’ve filled in the application form correctly and provided the necessary documents. Be prepared for some post-approval paperwork (ie: expense claims), but know that in some cases, the funds could start flowing relatively quickly. 

Ultimately, the “best time” to apply for clean tech grants will depend on funding availability and your own business goals. To maximize your success with grants, you need a long-term business plan that helps you identify relevant opportunities when they arise. 

Next Chapter – Where can I get a list of grants?

What does your grant search strategy look like? We have compiled some starting points to start your list of grants.

Calculate your potential grant funding

Curious about how much grant funding your company can get?