Federal government grants to help your small business: 2016 – StartupSmart

Winning a government grant can give a small business a much-needed helping hand overcoming one of its biggest challenges: cashflow.

But finding out which grants are available to your business, and navigating the application process, can be a minefield.

Here’s SmartCompany’s list of the some of the best federal government grants to help you on your way.

Some of the grants programs on this list have been around for a number of years, such as the Export Market Development Grant, while others, including the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, are relatively new initiatives.

We haven’t covered all the grants available to Australian businesses, but this list should set you on the right path.

Export Market Development Grant

An oldie but a goodie, the Export Market Development Grant scheme is available to small businesses that export their goods and services.

The scheme, which is administered by Austrade, operates more like an incentive for exporters, as opposed to a straight up cash payment. Recipients are required to spend their own funds first before applying for reimbursement from the government.

SMEs can be reimbursed up to 50% of eligible promotion expenses above a threshold of $5000, provided that their total expenses amount to more than $15,000.

Eligible applicants can receive up to eight grants, although the maximum amount a business can receive in its initial payment is $60,000.

Applications for the 2015-16 grant year are currently open. If an approved consultant is lodging an application on behalf of your business, the cut-off date is February 28, 2017.

However, if you are lodging the application yourself, or through a consultant that is not approved under the government’s quality incentive program, you have until November 30 to do so.

More information is available here.

Entrepreneurs’ Programme

Now part of the Federal Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Entrepreneur’s Programme replaced Commercialisation Australia and the Innovation and Investment Fund in 2014.

The program is available all year and is broken down into three different streams.

Accelerating Commercialisation

Pitched as a way to help SMEs, entrepreneurs and researchers commercialise their business ideas, this stream offers both cash grants and guidance from experts.

Accelerating Commercialisation Grants offer businesses payments worth up to 50% of their expenditure on a given project, which is capped at $250,000 for commercialisation offices and eligible partner entities, and $1 million for other applicants.

Businesses can also apply for Commercialisation Guidance from an expert adviser, who can offer strategic advice, feedback on applying for an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant, and help accessing a range of portfolio services.

To access this stream, businesses must first apply for Commercialisation Guidance online here.

Business Management

Under the Business Management stream, eligible businesses can apply for Business Growth Grants, which reimburse a business for up to half the costs of working with external consultants to improve the business, capped at $20,000 (excluding GST).

To qualify, businesses must first complete a Business Valuation, the applications for which are available here.

Innovation Connections

Previously known as the Research Connections stream, this part of the Entreprenuers’ Programme aims to help businesses identify areas that are preventing them from growing.

The program gives businesses access to facilitators, who provide a report about knowledge gaps in a business and opportunities for the business to work with research organisations to test and develop ideas to fill these gaps.

If a business chooses to adopt the suggestions in the report, they can apply for an Innovation Connections Grant of up to $50,000 to reimburse 50% of the total costs of the project.

More information about how to apply for the grants is available here.

Research and Development Tax Incentive

Businesses of all sizes can access the Commonwealth’s Research and Development Tax Incentive, although the offsets available differ depending on the business’s revenue.

Businesses with annual turnover under $20 million can claim a 45% refundable tax offset against R&D expenditure of up to $100 million.

All other eligible companies can claim a 40% non-refundable tax offset against up to $100 million in R&D expenditure. Non-refundable amounts that are not used in a given income year can be carried forward into future income years.

To claim the R&D Tax Incentive, businesses must first complete the application form to register for R&D activities.

Businesses have until 10 months after the end of the income year in which the R&D activities occurred to apply for the tax break, and they must register for every income year in which they plan to claim the offset.

More information is available here.

Automotive Transformation Scheme

Businesses in the automotive industry may be eligible for financial assistance under the Automotive Transformation Scheme, which will run until December 31, 2020.

The scheme aims to alleviate some of the pressure on businesses in this sector by providing grants to car manufacturers, component makers and service providers.

Under the scheme, businesses can apply for financial assistance for up to 50% of their investment in research and development, as well as 15% of the value of their investment in price and earnings (P&E).

Applications for the 2017 scheme are due by December 31. For information about eligibility requirements, click here.

Automotive Diversification Program

Grants of between $50,000 and $1 million are also available to businesses in the automotive supply chain that are investing in new capital equipment to diversify their operations.

Grants under the Automotive Diversification Program are capped at $1.5 million per recipient.

The scheme is not currently open to new applicants, but interested businesses can contact AusIndustry for more information here.

Certain Inputs to Manufacture

While not strictly a grants scheme, the government’s Certain Inputs to Manufacture program can provide savings to businesses that import raw materials or intermediate goods.

For eligible businesses, the scheme essentially eliminates import duties for materials and goods needed by Australian companies.

To qualify, the goods must be of superior quality to goods already available in Australia and shown to benefit Australian competitiveness. Examples of eligible goods include chemicals, plastics, paper goods, metal materials and goods used in food packaging.

Interested businesses can apply for the scheme online here.

Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Programme

Businesses that employ apprentices may be eligible for one-off payments under the federal government’s Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Programme.

Applications are open year-round for the program, which provides payments between $750 and $4000 based on the certificate level the apprentice has completed. Financial assistance is also offered to businesses that employ mature-aged apprentices and apprentices with disabilities.

Information about the various payments and eligibility criteria is available here.

Business Development and Assistance Program

This federal government program provides support, including concessional loans and asset leasing, to Indigenous people who are looking to start or grow a small or medium business.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 and over can apply for assistance under the program, which is designed to help prospective and existing business owners access appropriate training and government services to help them either start a business or grow their existing business.

More information is available here.

Venture Capital Limited Partnerships

The Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (VCLP) scheme is for fund managers who are investing in Australian companies, particularly high-risk startups.

Funds must register as a VCLP in order to access the benefit, which is the form of flow-through taxation treatment.

The partnerships also provide investors with exemptions from capital gains tax on their share of profits made by the partnership.

There are several conditions attached to the program, including requirements that the investments are “high risk” and held for a minimum of 12 months. The project cannot have more than $250 million in assets and at least half of the project and employees must be based in Australia.

Applications for the assistance are currently open and more information is available here.

For more information about all federal government grants and financial assistance, click here.

This article was first published on SmartCompany.

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