EU Funding



European Structural & Investment Funds

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are the European Union’s main funding programmes for supporting growth and jobs across the EU. They form a small but significant part of the UK Government’s overall growth activity.

EU Member States can use the Funds to support development in a wide-ranging way by investing in businesses, research, development, infrastructure, employment, training, and agriculture development.

In the UK, the ESIF are made up of the:

The ERDF aims to improve economic and social cohesion in the European Union by focusing its investments on areas such as innovation, research, and support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The European Social Fund aims to increase employment opportunities in the EU by helping people to get better skills and better job prospects,

EAFRD helps the rural areas of the EU to meet the wide range of economic, environmental and social challenges of the 21st century.

These three funds together form a single Growth programme (known as ESIF) with individual operational programmes aligned to maximise support for jobs and growth.

ESIF & Dorset LEP

The £6 billion funds within the Growth Programme have been allocated England's 39 LEP areas, where they can be used to support employment, skills and research, amongst other areas.

LEPs are responsible for setting local ESIF strategies and encouraging local business to utilise the opportunities brought on by EU funding to improve their business and the local area.

Dorset LEP, in line with national policy, wrote the 2014-2020 ESIF Strategy for Dorset. This strategy supports the Strategic Economic Vision for Dorset and delivery of the Dorset Growth Deal.

Dorset’s ESIF allocation currently stands at £47.1m.

Click here to download a copy of the Dorset LEP’s ESIF strategy for 2014-2020.

Click here to download a copy of Dorset ERDF outputs. 

Dorset ESIF Committee

Dorset ESIF Committee, formed in line with EU guidance, provides advice to central government (the managing authority) on the strategic fit of projects proposed to deliver within Dorset

To view the full list of Dorset ESIF committee members, please click here.

Calls for Projects

A call for Projects is an open invitation (tender) for applicants to submit proposals against a published call specification.

When a call is open, there is funding available within the programme to support a range of projects with specific outcomes. In order for the project to be successful in receiving specific funding, it must be aligned with the agreed ESIF programme objectives within that particular funding stream.

For more information about the ESIF Growth programme, including who can apply and how to apply for funding, click here.

To view recent or open Dorset calls, please visit the ESIF calls website.

Other EU funding opportunities

Big Lottery Fund – Building Better Opportunities

Big Lottery Fund is matching funds from the Dorset European Social Fund (ESF) pot to invest in local projects promoting social inclusion and driving local jobs and growth. For more information please about Building Better Opportunities visit Big Lottery Fund’s website.

The Dorset ESIF Committee has advised opting into Big Lottery Fund’s Building Better Opportunities programme. Dorset ESIF Committee has advised allocating £4.4 million to Big Lottery Fund who are matching it to create a funding programme of £8.8 million for delivery within Dorset between now and December 2019.

Central Government and the Big Lottery Fund have agreed the following three grant programmes:

  • Supporting Young People (aged 15-24) furthest from the labour market. A single grant of about £2.8m* covering the whole LEP area to engage with at least 700 young people. Stated priority groups, although not exclusive, are: young carers, those with mental health / health issues and those in rural areas.

  • Supporting enterprise as an alternative route to employment and social inclusion. A single grant of about £600,000* covering the whole LEP area benefitting at least 150 people. Activities may include support to start and grow a business, including increasing awareness of enterprise and social enterprise opportunities and providing support needed to launch and manage an organisation, promoting self-employment as a route out of worklessness and supporting people to take the steps forward to achieve this.

  • Supporting Disadvantaged groups facing barriers to work and inclusion. A single grant of about £5.44m* covering the whole LEP area working with at least 1,360 participants. The detail, geographic or thematic split still to be agreed with ESIF. Locally set priorities are working with those with poor physical and mental health, people in rural areas and long term unemployed.

For more information about this initiative, please visit the Building Better Opportunities Dorset website.


A European Territorial Cooperation Programme is an economic development programme that funds various projects which take place across multiple countries and regions. These projects aim to find common solutions to common problems which exist in multiple countries.

The France (Channel) England Programme is a “Cross Border” programme under the European Territorial Cooperation Goal, meaning it aims to support the development of the Border region between France and England.

For further information please contact:

Christelle Pereira

Email :

Tel : +44 (0)7887 542 495

You can also find information on their website.

Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)

EEN brings together 600 Network partner organisations, in more than 60 countries to help business and organisations.  EEN is funded by the European Commission and Innovate UK and provides a fully funded advice and support programme. EEN is a platform to form links to potential European and International stakeholders, partners and/or collaborators whether that be for funding, technology, knowledge transfer or to explore commercial and/or reciprocal opportunities. 

There is support available to organisations seeking advice on the competitive funding opportunities and assistance in identifying Research and Development (R&D) grants that businesses may be eligible for, in addition to providing  critique and feedback on funding applications prior to submission. When seeking  project partners for collaborative R&D funding bids, there is also assistance via EEN and this sometimes involves the UK's National Contact Points for specialist insight.

Programmes supported include Innovate UK and collaborative European opportunities such as Horizon 2020, including SME Instrument and Eurostars.  

For further information contact:





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