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Australian Federal and State Governments offer more than 1,000 grants and funding programs each year targeting different sectors and different types of activities from ‘cleaner tech’ to ‘accelerating commercialisation’.
While grants can be a game-changer for your business the application process is often difficult and time-consuming (to say the least). In this article, we’ll discuss some government grants that might be of interest to you and outline six essential tips to help you succeed with your application in 2020.
Common federal grants
Accelerating Commercialisation Grant (AC Grant)
Who it’s for: Australian businesses with a turnover of less than 20 million per year who have a novel product, process or service they want to commercialise.
What you get: Up to $250,000 matched project funding for Commercialisation Offices and Eligible Partner Entities; or up to $1 million for other applicants.
Export Marketing Development Grant (EMDG)
Who it’s for: Aspiring and current exporter businesses of small to medium size.
What you get: Reimbursement of up to 50% of eligible export promotion expenses above $10,000 provided that the total expenses are at least $20,000. Eligible applicants may apply for up to eight grants.
Manufacturing Modernisation Fund (MMF)
Who it’s for: Small to medium manufacturing enterprises that are investing in new manufacturing technologies and processes. The program supports technology and efficiency improvements as well as investment in more transformative technologies.
What you get: Co-funding grants of between $50,000 and $1 million.
Six steps to grant funding
Congratulations, you’ve researched and narrowed down your selections. Now follow these six steps to maximise the success of your application.
1. Identify a grant program that matches your objectives
Every grant program has objectives that are tailored to a desired policy outcome. Once you’ve determined that your company or project meets the basic eligibility criteria, the next step is to ensure your project aligns with the program’s objectives.
- The strategic objectives of the department offering the grant e.g. the MMF grant is sector-specific and falls under the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC). The AMGC’s Sector Competitiveness Plan outlines the government’s strategic priorities for the sector – does your project align with these?
- Program statistics and previous grant recipients – research publicly available data on the number of grants awarded per round, average grant size, grants per sector and more. This will give you a practical guide to the types of projects the program intends to fund and its competitiveness.
This research will allow you to define the project in a way that is most sympathetic to the program’s objectives. Successful applicants in any program must demonstrate that they offer best value for money for the taxpayer’s dollar – push to show how your business will create jobs, improve Australia’s competitiveness or upskill workers.
You can discover the projects successfully funded under the AC Grant here.
2. Map out the cut off dates
Grants often have strict deadlines and long assessment processes. There may also be multiple stages to the application process.
Map out the cut-off dates as best as possible before starting the application process to understand a birds eye approach to the progression required. The timeframes must be carefully managed with your business needs, as in most cases, project costs incurred prior to the grant agreement or contract being signed will not be funded.
3. Get financials and records in order
On a similar note, review the mandatory attachments to the application such as a business plan, detailed budget, financial statements and market research report. Feedback on applications will generally only be provided where the application is complete and all attachments are included, at least in draft form.
If you are successful, keep in mind you will also need to report on project progress against agreed milestones as per the funding agreement.
4. Examine the merit criteria and understand the relative weighting/score
Using the AC grant as an example, businesses will need to demonstrate ‘need for funding’ before other criteria will be assessed. It’s a fine balancing act to demonstrate this need for funding and at the same time showcase that your business has funding planned from other sources to meet its contribution.
5. Create a comprehensive business plan
Expect to spend time meeting with program delegates and revising your application based on their feedback. Have in place good business governance processes such as a comprehensive business plan, strong financial reports and detailed budgets. This will give your case managers confidence in your business. Use your business plan to show how you will implement the grant successfully in the future of your business.
6. Seek professional advice
Applying for a government grant is a complex, time consuming and highly competitive process. Seek out a professional advisor for help in assessing eligibility criteria and to ensure you put forward the strongest application possible.
Excited to explore your future business goals? For professional assistance, contact the Noah Connect team.