The best state government grants for small business

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When most businesses think of government grants, they tend to opt for the big end of town – but that’s a mistake.

State governments are an untouched treasure trove of free money for small business. With grants providing money for innovation and commercialisation in industries from manufacturing to biotechnology, there is plenty of money to go around.

Adrian Spencer, the head of grant consultancy firm GrantReady, says companies can tend to overlook the states, “which have some interesting things going on all the time”.

Last week, we looked at some of the best grants for small business at the federal level. This week we’ve taken a snapshot of some of the better state-based grants:

New South Wales

Tech Vouchers

This particular grant works a little differently than most others. The program works by hooking up small businesses with public sector research organisations, including universities, and providing them with a research agreement.

Essentially, it eliminates risk. Instead of giving grants to a company for research and development (R &D), the vouchers are used to buy the results of R&D.

There are conditions, including that businesses need to have been incorporated in New South Wales, with turnover less than $30 million and have been operating for at least a year.

Companies also need to demonstrate the ability to match the applicable voucher in cash. But the benefits of these vouchers can provide excellent guidance for SMEs – and they’re well worth checking out. More information is available here.

Innovate NSW

This program, which was announced earlier this year, provides a total funding pool of $6.7 million over four years to businesses in tech-based areas including services, education, manufacturing, transport and logistics.

The money is specifically designed for SMEs with a “high growth potential to collaborate with industry and research partners”.

The initiative focuses particularly on supporting innovative solutions which use enabling technologies – including mobile, cloud, analytics, sensors, advanced materials and biosciences,” the government said in a statement earlier this year.

Applications are open now – more information is available here.

Victoria

Geelong Advancement Fund

Given the downfall of the automotive sector, the Geelong economy is in for a rough few years. The Geelong Advancement Fund is designed to soften some of that pain.

The $11 million program is designed to help projects and initiatives that will “contribute to the advancement of Geelong”. Projects will be supported which generate jobs, provide new facilities or revitalise the Geelong district.

As for funding, applicants are required to make a financial contribution, or source third-party funding. More information is available here.

City of Melbourne Small Business Grants

The City of Melbourne grants are designed for small businesses located in, or intending to move to the City of Melbourne.

There are four separate categories of grants, including start-up, business expansion, export entry and business support services.

Although funding has already closed for August 2013, the next round opens February 2014. More information is available here.

Technology Trade and Partnering Program

These grants actually provide money for businesses to attend trade shows in other countries, where businesses can show off their products and gain new contacts.

The grants are provided in tiers, anywhere from $2500 to $10,000. Businesses can even access the program up to three separate times in a financial year.

Some of the requirements are more stringent than usual – businesses need to already be in a commercial state with fewer than 200 employees, and they can’t be a subsidiary of a foreign company.

Applications need to be submitted at least 14 days prior to the start of the event, but apart from that, can be accepted at any time. More information is available on the Victoria Business site here.

Tasmania

Tasmania Innovation and Investment Fund

The Tasmanian Investment Fund is designed to prevent the state’s economy from relying on forestry, to embrace a wider range of businesses and technology, especially in regional areas.

Grants are provided on a one-off basis worth $250,000 to eligible applicants, for the purpose of improved competitiveness, import replacement and demonstrated innovation.

The grants are available to all businesses, but especially those in regional areas. More information is available here.

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