Five great government grants for Australian startups

Key points at a glance

  • While innovation and R&D are risky ventures for any business – the stakes are highest for Australia’s thousands of startups and small businesses.
  • Through a range of government grants and assistance, Australian startups and entrepreneurs can apply for extra funding to keep R&D dreams alive.
  • Top grants include the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, the Export Market Development Grant and the R&D Tax Incentive.

No matter which way you slice it, innovation comes with added risks and costs. And in a business landscape studded with large incumbents and smaller upstarts, these risks are proportional – a scuttled research and development project will create a headache for any large company’s balance sheet, the same failed attempt could see a more modest outfit shut up shop.

Fortunately, help is at hand for small Australian businesses in the form of government grants and assistance. There are financial awards provided – if certain conditions are met – to a business or entrepreneur to help achieve a common goal. What’s more, such subsidies don’t need to be paid back, making a real difference to the bottom line.

We’ve compiled a shortlist of the top grants and assistance schemes that aid Australian innovation. You never know – you or your business might be eligible for one or more of these grants:

1. Entrepreneurs’ Programme

What is it?

Part of the federal government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Entrepreneurs’ Programmea is a federal government scheme aimed at helping Australian startups and entrepreneurs on a several fronts – from accelerating competitiveness and productivity to commercialising new products, services or processes.

What’s on offer?

A range of support functions are provided, including co-funded grants, business advice, collaboration opportunities and incubator support.

2. Export Market Development Grant

What is it?

Aimed at current and future Australian exporters, the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG)b reimburses marketing and promotional costs for businesses in international markets. Examples include free samples, trade fairs, or marketing visits.

What’s on offer?

Eligible export businesses can have up to 50% of their promotional expenses covered, provided the expenses are over $15,000. Grants range from $5,000 to $150,000. Each applicant is entitled for up to eight consecutive grants.

Nifty Grants can help individuals and businesses access the EMDG.

3. Public Sector Innovation fund (VIC):

What is it?

At the state level, Victoria’s State Government oversees the Public Sector Innovation fundc, which issues grants aimed at fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors; leveraging innovative new ways to solve complex problems in policy and service delivery. This could include new ways to collaborate, experiential learning, or overhauling procurement systems.

What’s on offer?

The Victorian government provides grants ranging from $50,000 to $400,000 to organisations working alongside or within Victoria’s public sector.

4. R&D Tax Incentive

What is it?

Spearheaded by AusIndustry, the R&D Tax Incentived aims to cultivate new innovations and knowledge in Australia by reimbursing portions of a small business or startup’s research and development costs. It provides a tax offset that encourages more companies to ‘have a go’ and take the plunge into new R&D initiatives.

What’s on offer?

For eligible companies with an annual turnover of less than $20 million, up to 45% of R&D expenses (this changes to 43.5% for cost incurred after 1 July 2016) can be recouped through a tax offset. Unused offsets may also be able to be carried forward to future income years.

Nifty Grants can help companies check their eligibility for the R&D Tax Incentive.

5. Instant Asset Write-Off

What is it?

It’s not technically a grant or rebate, however the Instant Asset Write-Off was a flagship part of the government’s 2015 budget agenda. Coming into effect in November 2016e, the scheme is now available for startups and small businesses around Australia and could be a lifeline for investing in much-needed new equipment.

What’s on offer?

Businesses earning up to $10 million a year can take advantage of the scheme, with assets valued up to $20,000 able to be deducted.