I know that there has been some mention of this on the SBS Facebook page but I recently applied, and although not successful, found the process really beneficial, so thought that I would share. The application process is fairly easy and can be accessed online here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-growth-vouchers. Once you have applied you are sent a confirmation and an appointment is made with one of the advisors to discuss how, as a business, you would use the £2000. There are five areas where support money can be spent – finance; staff development/recruitment; improving leadership/management; harnessing digital technology; marketing/attracting customers. The main focus is for strategic development rather than something operational, so consultancy or mentorship in a particular area. The meeting with the advisor is for 1 hour and it was really helpful to sit and reflect on different business priorities with someone who was not trying to sell me something and who I could therefore be more open and less guarded. As part of the process you with the advisor develop a short key action plan based on how the funds would be spent and then how this will be taken forward afterwards. The funding is coming from the quantitive easing programme set up by the government. The choice of successful applicants is apparently completely random and about 75% of applicants are successful, unfortunately we were not, but it was still a positive experience. The other interesting thing that I learned is that the vouchers must be spent with approved businesses however any business can apply to be approved and more information should be available here https://marketplace.enterprisenation.com/login.
Overall I would say that any small business has nothing to loss and everything to gain from applying even if you are not successful the time reflecting on the business ideas is useful.