The government support offered to startups across Australia is the envy of many entrepreneurs around the world, but these grants can be a tough nut to crack.
The lengthy applications, process times and chance of rejection are enough to put most off, but for those who win, it can be a game changer for their venture.
Here are five grants for the startup sector that may be well worth your time.
1. Entrepreneurs’ Programme
The Entrepreneurs’ Programme, which replaced Commercialisation Australia and the Innovation and Investment Fund in 2014, aims to help businesses increase productivity and competitiveness with funding and access to a national network of private-sector advisers and facilitators.
The programme offers entrepreneurs grants through the Accelerating Commercialisation fund.
Accelerating Commercialisation Grants offer ventures up to 50% of expenditure on a project, which is capped at $250,000 for commercialisation offices and eligible partner entities, and $1 million for other applicants.
Entrepreneurs can also apply to get free expert advice on their ventures to address knowledge gaps and accelerate growth. Additionally, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme offers funding support for incubators helping startups enter global markets.
New and existing incubators can apply for $13,000 to $250,000 of funding for up to 2 years. Funding covers eligible project value of up to 65% in regional areas or up to 50% in major cities.
2. CSIRO Kick-Start
Startups and SMEs keen to partner with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in research activities can get up to $50,000 in matched funding to help them further develop and grow their business.
Kick-Start started in early 2017. It aims to further drive Australia’s innovation output by supporting local startups “on their way to becoming Australian success stories”. Aimed at the research and testing stage of companies, the grant is for companies researching a new idea, or testing or developing a “novel” product or service.
To be eligible, companies have to be registered in Australia for GST, have an annual turnover of $1.5 million or less in the current and past two previous financial years, and have been registered as a company for less than three years.
If you meet those eligibility criteria, you could receive between $10,000 and $50,000 in matched funding. The funding can then be used to cover the costs of undertaking the project — such as salaries for researchers or travel and accommodation — but it may not be used for capital works, expenditure, or infrastructure costs.
3. Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF)
The Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF) was established by the federal government as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda in December 2016, and was fuelled with $250 million of Commonwealth capital and an additional $250 million of private sector capital. Currently, the fund is managed by three fund managers, including one from startup VC fund OneVentures.
So far, 10 investments have been made through the BTF, including a $7.5 million investment in medtech startup Global Kinetics in 2018.
To be eligible, your company must be “developing and commercialising biomedical discoveries” and have the majority of your employees and assets in Australia, along with a revenue of less than $25 million over the past two financial years.
‘Biomedical discoveries’ are classified as “therapeutic, medical or pharmaceutical products, processes, services (including digital health services), technologies or procedures that represent the application and commercialisation of the outcomes of research that serve to improve health and wellbeing”.
Alternative, traditional, or complementary medicine developments are not supported. Startups are also not guaranteed an investment just for meeting the criteria, with the investments made at the discretion of the fund managers.
4. Export Market Development Grant (EMDG)
The EMDG has been set up for aspiring and current exporters across a wide range of industries and products to help drive new outbound markets from Australia and encourage inbound tourism.
For businesses that have spent $15,000 or more on export promotion, they can be reimbursed up to 50% of costs exceeding $5000.
To be eligible, businesses must have promoted either the export of goods and services, inbound tourism, export of IP and “know-how” or Australian events and conferences.
Eligible businesses will have an income of under $50 million in the grant year.
Applications lodged by approved consultants are open between July 1, and midnight (AEDT) November 30, 2020.
5. Research and Development Tax Incentive
The R&D tax incentive aims to help all businesses stay ahead of the curve through a tax offset that encourages innovation in even the smallest ventures.
From July 1 2016, companies with an annual turnover under $20 million can claim a 43.5% refundable tax offset against R&D expenditure that amounts to $100 million or less.
All other eligible companies can claim a 38.5% non-refundable tax offset.
Non-refundable offset amounts that go unused can be carried on to future income years.
For R&D expenditure under $20,000, companies can only make a claim if it was undertaken with a research service provider or co-operative research centre.
Applications are ongoing but companies must register for R&D activities within 10 months of their income year first.
Another program to help your startup grow …
Austrade Landing Pad
This initiative aims to give Australian startups a leg-up in the global market by immersing them in one of five world-class innovation hubs.
Startups accepted into Landing Pads in Singapore, Berlin, Shanghai, Tel Aviv or San Francisco benefit from on-the-ground presence in these markets plus access to their networks, talent, mentors and investors.
To be eligible, startups must demonstrate strong vision, scalability, traction and differentiation, and explain how 90 days in a Landing Pad could help their venture.
Austrade provides workspace in an accelerator and free services but participants must fund their own travel, accommodation, living costs, visas and insurance.
Austrade does provide funding for global startups in Australia through the Export Market Development Grant.
Have you seen any other exciting government grants or support programs for our startup community? Tell us in the comments.
This post was originally published on July 3, 2018. The information has been updated to display current grants that are available for small businesses across Australia.