Internationalising Growth Events in Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Recognising the importance of business events, VisitBritain has created a new strand of the Event Support Programme that supports annual events already held in the UK, to help grow their international attendance and profile.

Funding applications are currently closed

We wish to advise that funding applications are closed for activity taking place in the 2017/18 financial year (to 31 March 2018). Applications for government advocacy / ‘soft support’ are welcome now and beyond the financial year. 

Please complete this enquiry form (Word, 54KB) to register interest in any future Business Support funds and return it to In the subject line please use reference “Enquiry / <Event name>”. 

Please note: There is no guarantee that funding for next financial year will be available, or according to the same criteria as the previous funding rounds. Further information will be stated on this page in due course.


For Internationalising Growth Events, support can take two forms – financial support or advocacy/ ‘soft’ support:

Financial Support

Financial support is available to a limited number of annual events held in Britain, of up to approximately £20,000 gross per event. Funds would be to support the growth in international attendees, growing its economic benefit to Britain through additional international visit spend, and also through encouraging greater international trade and investment for Britain.

Granted funds could be used to support the following, indicative activities: international delegate marketing through digital or trade channels, attracting high profile speakers that will be a draw card to international visitors, targeted international trade delegations.

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. The campaign has already secured confirmed economic returns of £2.7bn for the UK.

Advocacy/ 'Soft' Support
VisitBritain and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) also offers an ongoing programme of brokering 'soft' support/ government advocacy to support Britain's Business Events sector by working with cross-government partners. Requests to the appropriate department in HM Government (where feasible) to add to your event profile or content, to attract greater international attendees. Support could include invitation letters from Ministerial or Senior Government officials, keynote speech, or release of relevant research/white paper. VisitBritain are working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Department of International Trade (DIT) on making requests and identifying and realising opportunities. 

Criteria 2017-18 for Internationalising Growth Events

All applications will be assessed against the following initial criteria.  If the answer is ‘yes’ to all 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 Advocacy Support 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 31st March 2018. 

If the answer is NO for this question but the event activity will occur between April 2018 and 31st March 2019, please complete this enquiry form (Word, 54KB) 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 and other events are NOT eligible)
  • Is the event confirmed to be held in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and will it continue to be for the foreseeable future?
  • Is the event held annually and are there more than 250 delegates currently attending? VisitBritain will consider events of a smaller size if the event is clearly for a very senior audience, i.e. CEO-level or equivalent.
  • Is this application to augment wholly new activity intended to boost your event's international profile and attendance? Rather than fund activity already confirmed to take place, or what could ordinarily be constituted as ‘business as usual costs’ which do not qualify.
  • Does the event have the potential to further internationalise its profile and grow the international attendance through targeted activity? 

VisitBritain considers an ‘international’ event as one where at least 20% 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 available. Events that already meet this benchmark must indicate how this can be exceeded, and to what extent.

  • Does the event seek to grow international visitor/ delegate/ 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 clearly align with one of the following priority sectors for UK industry?

- Life Sciences, bio-economy, healthcare
- Technology
- Advanced Engineering
- Infrastructure
- Energy
- Business & Professional Services

  • Will you be able to supply a clear outline the proposal for any grant funded activities, and for each activity the ability to state the anticipated benefits, costs, timelines, and expected outcome e.g. uplift of international visitors from X% to Y%, as a result of activity XX
  • Can a post-event evaluation measuring the success of the funded activities, against agreed KPIs be provided?  Applications must provide proposals on how funded activities will be evaluated.
  • 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?

Please note

  • Applicants are advised that any marketing activity funded from this programme will require the integration of approved GREAT Britain Campaign branding.

How to Apply

Financial Support

We wish to advise that funding applications are closed for activity taking place in the 2017/18 financial year (to 31 March 2018).

Advocacy/ 'Soft' Support
If you meet the criteria above and would like to apply for Advocacy Support, please complete this application form (Word, 53KB)

Applications for advocacy/ ‘soft’ support can be received on an ongoing basis. If you are also applying for financial support for this event you will only need to complete Section 1 of the Advocacy Support form. We recommend applying as soon as possible to get the best possible assistance. However, Advocacy Support cannot be guaranteed and is subject to availability.

VisitBritain, supported by members of the Events Industry Board will convene an Event Support Fund Awards Panel to determine awards. If additional information is required in advance during the application process, applicants will be notified.

The assessment process can take up to one month after application as Panel assessments take place once per month as required.

Please note

Any activities that could bring the GREAT Britain Campaign into disrepute, do not qualify for support from this programme.

We welcome applications from various types of organisations, including but not limited to; event organisers, 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.

As a condition of grant funding Applicants will need to ensure that they comply with State Aid rules if the Award Panel approve the application. For further detail refer to the BIS state aid manual which includes details of GBER and De Minimis Regulations. You will need to demonstrate clearly in a letter that receipt of grant funding for your activities is within State Aid limits or that it is exempt, for example, under one or more of the relevant General Block Exemption Regulations prior to being offered a grant.