International Delegate Growth

Helping grow the international attendance and profile of recurring business events held in the UK

Funding applications for 2019/20 are now closed

Funding applications for the 2019/20 Business Events Growth Programme will close on 31 January 2020. Applications for activity taking place in 2020/2021 will open in spring (date to be announced).


The International Delegate Growth strand of the programme offers two types of support for UK business events – financial support or Government Advocacy.

Financial support

Financial support is available to recurring business events that are held in the UK, up to the value of £20,000 gross per event. Funds would be to support the growth in international attendees at the event, growing its economic benefit through additional international visitor spend, and also through encouraging greater international trade and investment potential for the UK. Exceptional proposals requiring more than £20,000 per bid, backed by a strong business case may be considered on a case by case basis (subject to available funds). In exceptional circumstances we may consider proposals requiring less than £5,000.

Funds could be used to support the following, indicative activities:

  • International delegate marketing campaign through digital channels
  • International delegate marketing through trade media channels

These serve as examples and VisitBritain welcomes suggestions from applicants on further ideas to attract international delegates.

Criteria 2019-20 for International Delegate Growth

All applications will be assessed against the following criteria.  If the answer is ‘yes’ to all of the questions, then the event is eligible to apply but there is no guarantee that all events or activity suggested will be deemed appropriate or offered grant funding. However, the event may still benefit from Government Advocacy if the following criteria is met.

  • Will all grant funded activity occur in this financial year? Expenditure must be spent and claimed in arrears within this financial year which ends on 31 March 2020. No pre-payments for future financial years are permitted, but the event can itself be taking place in future years.

If the answer is 'No' for this question but the event activity will occur between April 2020 and 31 March 2021, please complete this enquiry form (Word, 48KB) to register interest for potential future event support grant funds. Please note, there is no guarantee of future funding.

  • Is it a ‘business event’ for a professional, trade, B2B or academic audience? This includes tradeshows/exhibitions and conferences/congresses.

Consumer/ B2C events, festivals, sport and other events are NOT eligible to apply.

  • Will the business event only be held in Great Britain or Northern Ireland?
  • Is the event recurring? Only recurring events qualify.
  • Funding will be considered if the event is being held in the UK, but held outside of the UK on other years (e.g. UK won International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) event).
  • Do more than 250 delegates currently attend the event? VisitBritain will consider events of a smaller size if the event is clearly for a very senior audience, i.e. CEO-level or equivalent.
  • Does the funding proposal seek to grow the international profile and attendance of your domestic event? To be eligible for support an increase of 20% delegate attendance should be achieved form an international audience (VisitBritain considers an 'international’ event as one where at least 50% of total delegates/visitors are international (non-UK) visitors). Events that currently do not meet this benchmark must demonstrate how they intend to reach it through activity supported by the funds. Events that already meet this benchmark must indicate how this can be exceeded, and to what extent. 
  • Does the event have the potential to further internationalise its profile and grow the international attendance through targeted activity? 
  • Does the proposal seek to grow international visitor/ delegate and/or press audiences? This includes visitors/trade visitors, international buyer delegations / ‘hosted’ buyers, conference delegates and international press. Proposals that seek to grow exhibitors or sponsors will not be considered.
  • Does the event have large UK trade and investment potential; both during the event (international delegates attending) and also the potential for future trade and investment post-event?
  • Does the event clearly align with one of the following priority sectors for UK industry?
    • Advanced Manufacturing
    • Aerospace
    • Automotive
    • BioEconomy
    • Consumer
    • Creative
    • Education
    • Energy
    • Engineering
    • Financial Services
    • Food & Drink
    • Health & Life Sciences
    • Infrastructure
    • Marine
    • Space
    • Sport
    • Smart Cities
    • Technology
  • Does this funding application support new, additional activities to grow international delegates at your event? The following does not qualify for support from the fund, activity already confirmed to take place, ‘business as usual’ costs, such as, but not limited to, help with running costs (e.g. rent, overheads, etc.), salaries for existing or new positions within your organisation and capital expenditure/replacing equipment or in retrospect of expenditure already made.
  • If successful, will event marketing activity incorporate approved GREAT Britain campaign branding? Any marketing activity funded by this programme will require the inclusion of approved GREAT Britain Campaign branding. The Campaign showcases the best of what the nation has to offer, to inspire the world and encourage people to visit, do business, invest and study in the UK. It is the Government’s most ambitious international promotional campaign ever, uniting the efforts of the public and private sector to generate jobs and growth for Britain. You will be given access to the brand guidelines assets and contacts to approve the brand’s use. Any activities that could bring the Campaign into disrepute do not qualify for support from the Programme.
  • If successful, will you be able to supply an evaluation plan that measures the success of funded activity? If your application is conditionally approved, you will need to provide and agree evaluation plan that includes robust methodology that measures tangible outputs and outcomes from all funded support. Reporting is not restricted to the funding period, and could take place in future financial year.
  • If successful, will you be able to provide the following, necessary information? Completed grant claims to draw down funding, which must include copies of invoices and receipts as evidence of payment. A project monitoring report alongside each grant claim highlighting all GREAT branding utilised e.g. marketing materials and good quality images from event activity including the GREAT brand.
  • Has your organisation received less than €200,000 in de minimis State Aid within the past 3 financial years? If your answer is NO to this question, you cannot proceed with an application. This grant fund is awarded under the European Commission’s State Aid Regulations which allows up to a maximum value of €200,000 of de minimis state aid to an organisation over a rolling 3 year financial period. This value can be a combination of grants over the given period. State Aid is any advantage granted by public authorities through state resources on a selective basis to any organisations that could potentially distort competition and trade in the European Union (EU). Please note, if your application is successful, both a State Aid Declaration from the organisation applying for support and a letter from a solicitor or legal opinion, confirming compliance with State Aid rules will be required before a grant can be awarded. In particular, such confirmation must specify that the organisation and the applicable project is state aid compliant

(Criteria last updated: May 2019)

Please note

  • Grants will be paid in arrears on the basis of the actual reimbursement of eligible project costs. If successful, you will need to provide completed grant claims to draw down funding, which must include copies of invoices and receipts as evidence of payment, and a project monitoring report alongside each grant claim. 
  • Applicants are advised that any marketing activity funded from this programme will require the integration of approved GREAT Britain Campaign branding. The GREAT Britain campaign brand should be utilised in marketing collateral. The GREAT Britain campaign showcases the best of what our whole nation has to offer to inspire the world and encourage people to visit, do business, invest and study in the UK. It is the Government’s most ambitious international promotional campaign ever, uniting the efforts of the public and private sector to generate jobs and growth for Britain. 
  • Any activities that could bring the GREAT Britain Campaign into disrepute, do not qualify for support from this programme.
  • This grant funding opportunity is being operated by VisitBritain as a de minimis scheme. If successful, you will need to declare all other sources of de minimis aid which your organisation has received over the past three calendar years. At the point a conditional grant offer is made, applicants will need to provide both a State Aid Declaration and a letter from a solicitor or legal opinion, confirming compliance with State Aid rules. In particular, such confirmation must specify that the organisation and the and the applicable project is state aid complaint. For further detail, please refer to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) state aid manual, which includes details of de minimis Regulations. Please note any funds awarded must be within State Aid limits, as this fund is provided under de minimis aid. If the total funding from State sources exceeds €200,000 de minimis aid over a rolling three year period (at applicable exchange rate), then we are unable to award the grant.  
  • If successful, we will conduct a credit check on your organisation and other necessary due diligence checks. You will also need to provide confirmation of your VAT recovery status.

Who can apply

We welcome applications from various types of organisations, including but not limited to; event organisers, convention bureau/ destination management organisations, universities or associations. If you are delivering the event in partnership, please make this clear in your application.

Preference will be given to grant applications from SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), those organisations who have less ability to access financing to support such growth activities or events which have potential for a high economic impact and increase in visitors.  Government and the European Commission’s definition of an SME, which defines it as an entity engaged in economic activity that employs fewer than 250 people, and has turnover less than or equal to 50 million Euro; or has a balance sheet total of less than or equal to 43 million Euro.

How to apply

Financial support 

If you fulfil all of the above criteria, please continue and complete the International Delegate Growth application form (PDF, 309KB) and return to, with the following reference in the subject line: IDG/Event name.

If the answer is 'No' to any of the above questions, please do not apply as your application will not be progressed.
Applications will be considered by a Panel of industry experts, to determine successful applicants. Applicants will be contacted if additional information is required to make a decision. Please note, the assessment process can take up to one month after application. Please bear this in mind when considering your activity.

If you are applying for financial support, the above application form includes a section for government advocacy.

VisitBritain and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) can also provide Government Advocacy/soft power to support the UK's Business Events sector, by working with Cross-Government partners. Advocacy support can take many forms including, but not limited to: Letters of support from Ministerial or Senior Government figures, Attendance at an international event bid by a Government Minister or influencer (e.g. meeting a bid committee), Hosting a reception for event organisers in the UK to promote the UK offer, Utilising the ambassador networks, Inbound Missions, and diplomatic missions overseas, through the Department for International Trade's sector teams. For further information, please visit the Government Advocacy page