Whether you’re thinking about applying for a Digital Development Loan or have already in the middle of applying you may have questions about the process. Check out our FAQs below and if you are still unsure please get in contact and we will be happy to help.

Do I need to supply a Business Plan?

Yes, a detailed Business Plan, including 12 months financial projections for the first year of the project (Cash Flow, Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet) is required to explain how your application meets the assessment criteria. A Business Plan template is available on the website in case you don’t have your own.

What are the assessment criteria?

In addition to the eligibility criteria, applications will be assessed on whether, and by how much the project delivers:

  • Increased capacity – for example, able to take on new and additional work
  • Increased capability – for example, faster production speed, higher quality work, faster business processes
  • Increased digital skills within the workforce

Overall, the loan is aimed at helping Scottish SMEs to improve processes and productivity through digital application.

What type of expenditure is likely to be accepted?

Probably Yes:

  • Hardware and software that increases the digital capacity and capability of the company
  • Expenditure on new digital processes that speed up production or enable the company to access new markets
  • Expenditure on training (not necessarily qualifications)
  • Costs of using a specialist/consultant to implement the system, train staff, etc

Maybe – depending on the projected outcomes

  • Upgrades, provided the resulting business development can be evidenced
  • Employee costs where it can be demonstrated that this is essential for the delivery of the project and the achievement of the outcomes

Probably No:

  • Routine replacements or upgrades such as servers, software such as CAD systems
  • Digital equipment for new employees unless this was being used to access new digital processes
  • Hardware and software considered a normal or essential part of the business activities, such as EPOS systems, electronic booking systems, e-commerce platforms, websites, security/CCTV cameras and systems

What level of detail is required in the application?

The greater the level of detail the easier and quicker is the process of assessing the application and the greater likelihood of approval. We’re looking for detailed information on how the use of the fund will improve turnover; profit; digital processes; digital skills in the workforce; employee numbers; access to international markets etc. We also need you to identify in the Application specific milestones with dates by which you expect to achieve these so that the progress of your project can be tracked.

How long does the application process take?

We hope to give you a decision within 6 weeks of receipt of your completed application. If we have to come back to you for more information that will increase that time frame. There is a two-stage assessment process – Stage 1 is the Business Appraisal (carried out on the basis of your application form and Business Plan), if you satisfy the requirements then the application is passed on to Stage 2 – the Financial Appraisal which requires more documentation and discussion with the loan providers, DSL Business Finance.

I already have a DSL loan, am I eligible?

An existing loan is not an issue in itself, the application assessment will take account of all your existing commitments.

My company is long-established – is this fund only for Start-Ups?

As long as the business has been trading for over 6 months, and can evidence this, it meets this element of the eligibility criteria.

What kind of employee costs are eligible?

Employee costs, both existing and new, are not eligible unless these are essential to the successful implementation of the project. Where the project includes bringing in freelance contractors to deliver or implement the project, and/or to train staff, this is potentially eligible.

I manage a charity – is it eligible to apply?

Yes, charities, social enterprises, community interest companies and not-for-profits are eligible provided they meet the eligibility criteria – specifically for this sector – is it legally constituted as a company, and has it been trading (making sales, not just receiving grants) for at least 6 months. To meet the eligibility criteria it is likely that the charity’s trading arm would be the applicant, rather than the charity.

I’ve already invested money in the development we are planning, can the loan repay this?

No. The loan is made to enable you to start a project, it cannot be used retrospectively for costs already incurred, nor can it be used as additional finance for a project that is already underway. No expenditure on or commitments to the project should be made before loan approval is confirmed.

I’m already engaged with Scottish Enterprise as a Growth Pipeline/High Growth/Account Managed company, am I eligible to apply?

Yes

I am receiving a grant towards the project, can I use a Digital Development Loan to complete the funding?

Yes

I have been awarded ERDF grant support for my project, can I 100% fund the project using this and a Digital Development Loan?

This would require assessment on an individual basis.

Do I have to provide three quotes for the proposed project spend?

No, it is for the individual business to satisfy themselves that their chosen contractor is providing a fair price and the required competence.