Show me the money unlocking government grants By William Buck on 01/01/12 - Mins to read: 4 minutes Australia’s Federal and State Governments offer more than 1000 grants and funding programs with a combined value of approximately $50 billion to help small business owners to start, expand or improve their business. While obtaining a grant or funding can be difficult, the potential benefits to your business can be very rewarding. In this article we outline some of the most valuable government grants and funding arrangements available and provide tips for maximising the success of your application. Grants to Accelerate Growth Developing and maintaining an effective growth strategy can be an expensive exercise for many businesses. Whether you’re bringing new products to the market, expanding overseas or simply need to fund extra inventory, it is likely that there is a grant that suits you. The table below outlines three of the more popular federal grants available. Grant Who should apply? What does it offer ? Commercialisation Australia Any business with a turnover of less than $10 million per year. * Businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million may apply for the for the Early Stage Commercialisation option. A range of funding options to eligible applicants for different purposes: Skills and Knowledge – up to $50,000 to access specialist advice and services Experienced Executives – up to $350,000 to engage a CEO or other senior executive Proof of Concept – $50,000 to $250,000 to prove the commercial viability of new Intellectual Property Early Stage Commercialisation – $50,000 to $2 million to take a new product, service or process to market. Export Market Development Aspiring and current exporters of any size. 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 seven grants. Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive Any business undertaking Research & Development activities. The R&D Tax incentive is made up of two core components: A 45% refundable tax offset (equivalent to a 150 per cent deduction) to eligible entities with an aggregated turnover of less than $20 million per annum. A non-refundable 40% tax offset (equivalent to 133 per cent deduction) to all other eligible entities. A range of industry specific grants including those for the automotive industry, textiles and clothing, and tourism are available from both the Federal and State Governments. Additionally, each of Australia’s State and Territory governments has a range of grants available, aimed specifically at small to medium businesses. These grants range from programs to assist start-ups to payroll tax rebates to grants for specific regional areas. It is worth looking at your state government website or contacting your local William Buck advisor to find out more about grants that may be applicable to you. Government Funding While a grant is the ideal source of funding, they can be difficult to secure. Another option is to apply for a loan through the government. Australia has a number of programs offering loans to different industries and specific groups such as entrepreneurs, indigenous business people and women. These loans range from $1,500 – $10 million. Some of the more common loans include: Low interest or no interest loans. Conditionally Repayable Contribution programs – typically under these programs the business need only repay the loan (all or in part) if the venture is successful and certain conditions are met. Non-repayable start-up loans – these loans are essentially another form of grant for new businesses as they do not need to be repaid. Employer Grants The Federal Government offers numerous grants and incentives to encourage the employment of a diverse and strong workforce. The grants include: Australian Apprenticeships incentives Mature aged worker incentives Disability subsidies and incentives Indigenous Wage Subsidies Grants to provide a better work/life balance for employees Maximising the success of your application The eligibility criteria placed on each grant is as diverse as the range available. The type of grant applied for and the intensity of the competition will usually affect the amount of information you need to supply. Regardless of the grant, however, there are some steps you can take to maximise the success of your application: Submit a comprehensive Business Plan – A grant is an investment in the future of your business. Assessors will want to see a comprehensive plan for how you will use the grant and grow the business. Ensure that you understand the objectives of the grant program – Each grant program has a clear set of objectives such as; increasing workplace diversity, boosting the economy or driving cleaner technologies. Displaying an understanding of the governing body’s objectives and how your business can help further these objectives will increase your chance of success. Get your financials in order – Ensure that your record keeping is robust and your financial statements are up to date and accurate. Determine other funding sources – Many grants require the business to match the funding provided. Ensure that your application outlines your ability to provide the funding required. Ensure that you have enough time – Finding the most appropriate grant and completing the necessary documentation often takes longer than anticipated. Most grants have strict deadlines attached, be aware of cut-off dates. Seek professional advice – Applying for government grants can be exceptionally complex. A professional advisor can assist in assessing the eligibility criteria, completing the necessary documentation and meeting with government officials. Some grant programs allow applicants to apply only once, so get the best advice to get it right the first time. For assistance with grant applications please contact your local William Buck advisor.