Grants, Startup Advice

Six government grants for businesses that you might not know about

Dominic Powell /

For business owners and entrepreneurs, grants and investment from the Australian government can be a godsend, and popular local grants such as the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and CSIRO’s KickStart are likely already familiar to company founders.

But beyond the five most common startup grants exists a world of grant programs, with millions on offer for companies working in narrow fields or those working on building a better future for all Australians.

While not every SME and startup founder can apply for these grants, the federal government has a significant amount of capital ready to provide to those who fit the bill, with some grants even reaching into the multiple millions. If you’re looking to start a company, knowing these grants are potentially available to you could influence how you set yourself up.

Continuing on from our popular list of the top five government grants for Australian startups, here are six grants or programs you might not have heard of.

1. The Advancing Renewables Program

As the name suggests, this grant is open to any business or startup looking to help develop renewable energy technologies, be that reducing the cost of renewables, improving commercial viability of renewables, or increasing skills and knowledge in relation to renewables.

Australian incorporated companies can receive matched funding of between $100,000 and $50 million per project through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Companies can apply for the grant here.

2. Business Development and Assistance Program

The Business Development and Assistance Program is run by the government’s Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) program and is targeted at Australian SMEs or startups owned or operated by Australians of indigenous descent.

If you are over 18 and of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent and you own at least 50% of a solvent business, or you are not of indigenous descent but at least 50% of your business is owned by people of indigenous descent, you are eligible for the program.

Through the program, the IBA provides indigenous business owners with training, advice, workshops, and finance to help them grow their businesses.

Loans from $10,000 are available to eligible businesses, and the IBA also offers a specialised Start-Up Finance Package where 30% of the loan is awarded as a grant. To be eligible for that package, your business has to have been trading for less than one year and have less than $400,000 in annual revenue.

Apply for this program here.

3. Space Concession

While not strictly a grant, the Space Concession is a moderately new program for startups and small businesses focused on bolstering the competitiveness of Australia’s space industry.

Businesses with an authorised space project that have activities with international parties, and which also complete an Australian Industry Participation Plan, can be rewarded with a duty-free tariff concession to import eligible goods.

This means businesses operating in areas such as space exploration, remote sensing, satellite navigation systems, or space medicine and biology can access a significant tax write-off for importing eligible space-related goods.

Find more information about the concession here.

4. Automotive Transformation Scheme

A long-running program, the Automotive Transformation Scheme (ATS) was designed by the federal government to encourage further investment in the Australian automotive industry in the wake of numerous manufacturers moving their plants offshore.

Businesses that operate across the spectrum of all things automotive are eligible to apply for the scheme, which is available to motor vehicle producers, component producers, automotive tool producers, or automotive service providers.

What is available to businesses under one or more of those eligibility requirements varies, but businesses can receive payments to cover up to 15% of the cost of investing in plant and equipment, and up to 50% of R&D investment. Overall assistance is capped at $1 billion from 2016 to 2020.

The majority of assistance (55%) is directed at motor vehicle producers, but check out the various eligibility requirements here.

5. Industry Capability Network

The Industry Capability Network runs across all Australian states and territories and in New Zealand, acting as a way for businesses to connect with other suppliers, project managers and business opportunities across the two countries.

While the network doesn’t provide businesses with a direct line to funding, the eligibility requirements are simple: you just need to be a business in either Australia or New Zealand.

The ICN Gateway on the organisation’s website connects businesses to projects and says it has billions of dollars in projects listed. Over $30 billion worth of contracts have been completed since the program started 30 years ago.

6. Indigenous Advancement Strategy

Finally, registered Australian businesses with a capacity to enter a project agreement with the Commonwealth can find themselves eligible for the government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS).

The funding, which was implemented in the 2015-16 budget and runs until next year, aims to encourage Australian businesses to commence projects that promote equal opportunities for indigenous Australians.

This revolves around improving the opportunities for indigenous Australians in the areas of jobs, schooling, safety, and culture.

The government has committed $4.8 billion to the IAS for the four years of its operation, which is being dished out in the form of grants to eligible businesses.

For more information, and to submit a proposal, go here.

READ MORE: How to secure a government grant for your small business or startup

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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