Every year, the Australian government sets aside billions of dollars in grants to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs), startups, and not-for-profit organisations.
The key to obtaining a government grant as a small business owner is knowing what’s available, how to apply, and when to apply.
What are Small Business Grants?
Small business and startup grants are funding programs that provide financial assistance and much-needed capital to get a business idea off the ground. The notion is that grant funding can help small businesses prosper and thus help grow the Australian economy.
There are various small business grants available from various sources.
There are government-funded national grants, grants at the state level, industry-specific grants, and private grants.
Best Government Grants
Below is a list of some of the top government grants for small businesses:
The Entrepreneur’s Program: This program helps small businesses to innovate, grow, and compete with larger competitors with funding up to $1 million. Through this program, grant recipients also gain access to a wealth of expert advice and additional incentives.
Austrade Landing Pad: This grant is specifically aimed at helping small businesses expand globally into new markets, including Shanghai and Singapore. SMEs who receive this grant benefit from global innovation hubs with expert insights on how to succeed in new markets.
Export Market Development Grant: This grant encourages small business owners to develop export markets. It provides financial support for current and new exporters. In response to the pandemic, some of the previous export performance requirements have been waived, meaning more eligible businesses can apply.
Accelerating Commercialisation: This grant provides SMEs with up to $1 million to commercialise a novel product, process, or service. This grant is therefore aimed at innovators who have a business idea but lack the expertise or support services to know how to properly commercialise it. Eligible businesses must be looking to commercialise in a state other than their state of business.
Grants by State
It can be a great option to start local and look at what grant funding is available at the state level.
New South Wales
Up to $25,000 is available via the MVP Grant. This grant offers to help early startups in the development stage of minimum viable products. Local Innovation network (LIN) commits $2.1 million to support regional entrepreneurship in seven high-potential emerging locations across NSW.
Future Industries is a source of funding in Victoria for high-growth industries like medical, new energies, and construction. Reflecting the need to digitally adapt for many businesses, there’s a $1200 rebate available to small businesses buying a digital product.
The Business Basics Grants Program provides different sources of support and funding depending on business needs. The focus of this program is to advise and increase the core skills of business owners.
Australian Capital Territory
Grants between $10,000 and $30,000 are available via the Innovation Connects Grant (ICON). This funding program focuses on helping entrepreneurs in the development stage.
The SA Venture Capital Fund (SAVCF) will provide partial funding to startups.
Emerging businesses can gain support from the New Industries Fund. There are various programs within the fund aimed at different industries.
The Business Growth Loan Scheme provides financial support to businesses with the specific aim of contributing to job growth in Tasmania.
The Business Growth Program offers financial assistance to businesses and not-for-profits in the Northern Territory. There are specific opportunities for Aboriginal enterprises available.
The Australian government is particularly interested in encouraging and supporting certain industries to help them grow and prosper.
Whether it's support for emerging transformative technologies like artificial intelligence or cybersecurity or more traditional grants for the agriculture industry, small business owners may be able to find plenty of financial help from the government, depending on their industry.
For example, Tourism Australia provides subsidies and grants to promote regional and state tourism. These grants have increased in scale in the wake of the pandemic since the tourism industry was hit especially hard.
How to Find Grants
It can be challenging for business owners to get a picture of what’s available to them from the government at a national and state level.
Thankfully, the government provides a grants and program finder to help business owners find the help they need.
The service allows business owners to use a comprehensive search function to find grants by category.
Business owners can search by location, industry, business structure, and support type, among other criteria.
The results that show up inform business owners when the deadline for application is, who the funding program is for, and what businesses can obtain through each grant.
It’s then up to each business owner to choose whether they would like to apply.
Eligibility criteria will vary from grant to grant, so business owners should read carefully before applying.
Generally speaking, eligibility criteria can include:
- An Australian Business Number (ABN)
- Be registered for goods and service tax (GST)
- Be a company or trustee incorporated in Australia
- Have your business in the state of the grant (if applying for a state grant)
- Have been in business at least X months
- Employ less than X people
- Have a turnover of less than X amount
Small Business Advice From QuickBooks
At QuickBooks, we want to help small businesses grow and prosper.
Read our small business blog for tips and advice on starting, running, and growing a business.
How can I get money to start a business?
Business owners can obtain grants and other assistance from government agencies, state organisations, and private companies.
Do grants need to be paid back?
Business owners apply for government grants that do not need to be paid back. This marks grants as different from business loans that must be paid back.
What is the benefit of receiving a grant?
A grant can provide a business with much-needed capital that may otherwise be difficult to come by. On top of this, grants do not have to be repaid, and business owners do not have to surrender any equity in their company.