- Government grants help businesses get off the ground.
- Exporters and international businesses have special grants available.
- A good business plan is an essential element of any grant application.
Starting a business is a challenging process, even if you have a good idea. Businesses take time and money to set up, and it’s not always easy to find the funds to get started or to scale your operations beyond that initial start-up phase. Grant funding can help you build up your business, giving you access to the resources you need during that crucial growth phase. Having access to money and someone who believes in your idea is invaluable.
Many grants also include mentorship and support or offer other practical assistance, such as media attention, that can be just as useful as the funding for an early-stage business. Read on for a list of some of the grants currently available for Australian entrepreneurs.
Grants for Australian Entrepreneurs
Many government grants are available for business owners in Australia. These government grants are essentially free money for businesses that are working toward objectives supported by the local government.
Some grants require a business to contribute a portion of the cost of the business idea, either through additional grants or using its own money. However, grants aren’t loans, and as long as the business complies with the grant’s terms, it doesn’t need to pay back the funds. Fortunately, new funding rounds open on a regular basis, so resourceful business owners are likely to find something they’re eligible for.
1. Export Assistance Grant NSW
The Export Assistance Grant is aimed at businesses that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, drought, or bushfires and who had previously been exporting goods. The grant is open to NSW businesses and provides up to $10,000 to help them get back into the international marketplace.
Funds may be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Producing marketing materials
- Website translations for international markets
- Performing market research
- Attending trade shows
- E-commerce development
- Achieving compliance for export
- Localising products
You can read more about the grant application process and check your business’s eligibility online.1
2. Healthier, Safer and Productive Workplaces Grant – TAS
This grant offers up to $50,000 for businesses to help them improve their work environments and prevent injuries. It’s designed to reduce the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among employees and facilitate a return to the workplace for those who have had occupational health-related injuries. Those who are researching workplace injuries may be eligible for a grant of up to $100,000.
To apply, a business must operate in Tasmania and have an Australian business number. Researchers must have a formal sponsor. The application process is quite simple, and a detailed guide to how to apply is available on the WorkSafe website.2
3. Innovation Connect ACT
Innovation Connect is open to Canberra-based businesses that have an innovative idea for a product or service and are looking for help to commercialise it. The grant is matched funding based and offers between $10,000 and $30,000 to help businesses:
- Create a prototype
- Develop software
- Get IP or patent advice
- Perform market research
- Market their ideas
To apply, your business must submit an expression of interest, including a short video pitch of your idea. You also have the option of booking a meeting for initial advice.3
4. Accelerating Trading Grant – TAS
The Accelerating Trading Grant Program is open to Tasmanian businesses. The aim of the program is to help business owners undertake new activities and find new trading partners, including ones in off-island markets.
This tiered program offers grants of up to $10,000 for smaller businesses and up to $20,000 for businesses with a turnover of between $300,000 and $20 million. The business must already be financially viable. The grant is to expand an existing, sound business to reach new audiences rather than launch a new but unproven idea.4
5. Lead, Educate, Assist, Promote Grants – SA
LEAP is a program to help businesses undertake projects that lead, educate, assist, and promote sustainable business practices. An eligible business can receive up to $100,000 over the duration of its project, with contributions capped at $50,000 per fiscal year.
LEAP is aimed at coordinated business groups rather than individual businesses. However, groups don’t need to be incorporated to apply, so a collective of small businesses with an idea for increasing the sustainability of their operations in their South Australian community are welcome to apply.5
6. Investment-Ready Fast Track Fund – VIC
The Investment-Ready Fast Track Fund is aimed at projects that can drive regional or rural recovery and increase the economic diversity of the area. Funding of up to $500,000 is available for investment-ready ideas and applications from Aboriginal organisations.
The fund offers in-kind contributions, and the government contribution is capped at 25 percent of the cost of the project. The funding pot is $10 million, spread over two financial years, and the application process is expected to be competitive. Your business can apply online to request support.6
7. Business Growth Program – NT
This program is open to businesses in the Northern Territories and helps them access professional advice and the support they need to take their businesses to the next level. The program is open to small businesses, not-for-profits, and Aboriginal enterprises. It offers access to mentoring, coaching and financial strategies.
A business may be eligible if it has been operating in the Northern Territories for at least six months and has between one and 20 full-time employees and a turnover of at least $75,000. Further information about the application process is available on the NT.gov.au website.7
8. Small Business Pivot Grant – NT
The Small Business Pivot Grant provides matched funding for small businesses to help them access new markets and increase their revenue. Grants of up to $10,000 are available, and the funding can be used to access training, increase the business’ digital capabilities, or improve existing infrastructure.
To be eligible, a business must operate in the Northern Territories and have a turnover of at least $75,000 but no more than $10 million. The business must have at least one full-time employee. Applications must be made through a registered provider on the GrantsNT website.8
9. Apprenticeship and Traineeship Re-Engagement – WA
This program provides financial support to businesses that employ a trainee or apprentice whose previous contract was terminated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers payments of $6,000 for re-engaging an apprentice or $3,000 for re-engaging a trainee.
Any WA business that has an active contract with the Department of Training and Workforce Development’s Apprenticeship Office for taking on trainees or apprentices may be eligible for this incentive payment. Other payments and subsidies are also available, including the Commonwealth Wage subsidy. See the government Jobs and Skills website for more information.9
10. Grant for Projects Supporting Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship
The Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship grant aims to increase gender equality by raising awareness of opportunities for women in these fields. The grant offers between $500,000 and $1 million for projects supporting women and girls by reducing barriers in participation, increasing awareness, and providing training for women.
This grant isn’t aimed at individual women but rather at organisations working to increase the presence of women and girls in STEM fields or encourage female entrepreneurship. Projects must submit a plan and impact assessment as well as demonstrate how their work matches the grant’s objectives.10
How to Make an Effective Grant Application
Grant programs are competitive. When you’re applying for a grant, it’s important to put effort into the application. Make sure you cover the following key points:
- Provide a detailed business plan
- Include a clear cash flow forecast
- Explain why your business is interesting and has a competitive edge
- Explain your business objectives
- Give details of what you plan to use the grant for and how it’s likely to improve the business
Only apply for grants that are a good match for your organisation. Don’t waste your time, or the funder’s time, chasing money your business doesn’t actually qualify for.