If you’re a small business owner in need of extra cash, good news, you may just be “in the right place, at the right time”. With Prime Minister Turnbull’s National Innovation and Science Agenda pumping $1.1 billion into the economy via 24 initiatives over four years, and with Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk regularly announcing new Advance Queensland funding initiatives for our “Startup State”, there is plenty to get excited about.
To inspire your thinking, here are seven government grants your small-to-medium enterprise might want to tap into:
Accelerating Commercialisation Grant
AudIndustry’s Accelerating Commercialisation Grant aims to provide guidance and grants to help Australian businesses commercialise their novel products, processes and services. You can apply for guidance only or guidance combined with real, hard cash. The application process is lengthy and requires a comprehensive Expression of Interest (EOI) step first. But if successful, this really is the big kahuna because your business could benefit from project funding of up to $1 million.
Business Development Fund
This fund was launched last year to the applause of investors in the Queensland startup scene. What they love about it is that if an application is successful, the Queensland government will match their investment to the tune of $125,000 to $2,500,000 per business – effectively doubling the injection of funds into a business that an external investor has already judged worthy. The cherry on the cake is that the government is offering to exit the investment down the track at very favourable terms to the investor, which only enhances the investment appeal for Queensland businesses, if you can convince an investor to get on board.
Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Program
This little program doesn’t get much press, but it’s definitely worth considering if you can convince a university to partner with you. Advance Queensland is offering up to $50,000 per project for businesses to take on an Honours, Masters or PhD university graduate, for an innovative and strategic project. Businesses are asked to co-contribute one-third of the project costs, which seems pretty reasonable when you consider that you might score an information technology graduate to build a new I.T. platform for only $25,000, when the estimate project cost is closer to $75,000. The only catch is that new businesses like ours, Social Care Foundation Australia (an online meeting place for the community services sector), do however have to wait two years to be eligible.
Digital Grants Program
Two million dollars per year over three years has been allocated by the Queensland Government for this new program, which will provide grants of up to $10,000 to be matched by participants. The money can apparently be spent on the purchase of hardware, software and services such as digital coaching, but not much else is known yet, as the program is only due to open at the end of this year. The program is part of the Palaszczuk Government’s Advancing Small Business Queensland Strategy and will be implemented by the new Office of Small Business.
Export Market Development Grant (EMDG)
Administered by Austrade, the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) is no new kid on the block. The first EMDG payment made forty-one years ago, in 1975. But the scheme has been so successful that it lives on, year after year, government budget after government budget, which is great to see. To claim up to 50% reimbursement of eligible export promotion expenses above $5,000, Australian small and medium enterprises must: have incurred at least $15,000 of eligible export expenses; not have income of more than $50 million in the grant year; and have principal status for the export business. In addition, they must have promoted one of the following: the export of goods and most services; inbound tourism; the export of intellectual property and know-how; or conferences and events held in Australia.
Ignite Ideas Fund
Promising up to $100,000 (tier one) and $250,000 (tier two), this program raised the hopes of many Queensland SMEs and startups when it opened earlier this year. Unfortunately, the government was inundated with applications and given that it is a competitive process, a lot of rejection letters were sent to round one applicants. However, try not to let this deter your business if you have an “innovative, unique or new product, process or service with the potential to achieve high growth”, because there is money in the bucket if you have what it takes to get it.
Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive
Jointly administered by the ATO and AusIndustry (on behalf of Innovation Australia), the R&D Tax Incentive is a brilliant, national scheme which rewards your business for investing in research and development. It offers a 45% refundable tax offset for certain eligible entities whose aggregated turnover is less than $20 million (provided they are not controlled by income tax exempt entities) and a 40% non-refundable tax offset for all other eligible entities. When you think of all of the businesses who likely went bankrupt over the years due to lack of money in the development stage, this Incentive is a godsend for Australian SMEs.
So, if you’re tired of propping up your business yourself, it might be time to check out some of the government grants that could enable your business to thrive, not just survive, in 2017 and beyond!
This was a guest post written by Andrea Martins, the Chief Operating Officer of Social Care Foundation Australia, based on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. All information is for inspiration only and potential grant applicants should consult the appropriate government departments for full details.