Government grants for small business are plentiful, but to get a cash injection, applicants need a solid idea, proof of plans and they must be prepared to tackle mountains of good old-fashioned paperwork.
For Peak3, a Queensland-based company that develops solutions for hazardous confined-space diesel emissions and particulate reduction, the effort has more than paid off.
In conjunction with investor OneVentures, of which Peak3 is in its portfolio, the company put its case to the federal government for a Clean Technology Innovation Program (CTIP) grant.
Peak3 wanted to fund an extended trial of its Remote Emissions Monitoring system. The trial looks into the sustainable reduction of carbon emissions and fuel efficiency in heavy diesel vehicles.
The government agreed the trial was a winner – and granted Peak3 a very handy $876,740 to help make it happen.
But what did Peak3 have to do to demonstrate they were worthy of the grant?
OneVentures general partner Anne-Marie Birkill was involved in the application process, and offers this advice for replicating Peak3’s success.
1. Be prepared for the long haul
Birkill says Peak3 began to apply for the CTIP grant back in December 2012 and it took over six months to write, process and have it approved.
She says the application forms took hours of work, due to the detailed evidence required. Some written answers to questions reached around 4000 words.
“We had a team of three working on it, checking over our answers to every question,” she says.
2. Make sure you fit the criteria
Birkill says to scrutinise the grant criteria to ensure that it aligns with the intended purpose, otherwise months could be lost on an application that won’t succeed.
Birkill was confident Peak3’s project was the right fit for the CTIP grant, but was still intent on providing accurate detail.
“We wrote our application to meet the criteria as best as we could,” she says.
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3. Get expert assistance
To further Peak3’s chance of success, Birkill says the company consulted their Ausindustry case manager who guided them through the process.
“They helped us to ensure that our application met the eligibility and merit criteria and the intent of the grant program,” she says.
4. Rally support
Demonstrating to the government the benefit of a proposed project or research to industry partners can enhance an application, Birkill says.
She says Peak3’s industry partners wrote statements of support for the proposed research, which were included in the application for added support.
5. Budget to the last cent
A key part of the grant application process is revealing your budget. Birkill says the detail required is rather arduous and involves a “complicated template” that takes patience to complete.
“The government will give you half of your budget … and you are measured against meeting those findings,” she says.
6. It doesn’t stop when the cash is in the bank
If a grant application is successful, it is not the end of the road when it comes to the government’s involvement. Birkill says quarterly reports are required to give evidence that the money is being used as advised.
“It is fantastic money, but it takes work – though it is worth it,” she says.