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Top 6 Australian small business grants

By Samuel Williamson

4 min read

Raising startup capital or capital for business development can be one of the greatest challenges for business owners. A source of funds often overlooked is the government, in the form of small business grants and loans.

The Australian federal government offers hundreds of grants each year, worth billions of dollars in total, to support small businesses. With grants ranging from $500 to $2 million and available to businesses in various industries and development stages, it’s worth finding out what you’re eligible for. Here are the top 6 federal government grants for small business; also check with your state government to see what’s available locally.

1. Entrepreneurs’ Programme

Are you an entrepreneur with a pioneering idea in the early stages of the development? Then the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, offering a suite of facilitation services and grants, could help get your venture off the ground. Aimed to enrich Australian economic growth and innovation, the programme provides expert advice, support, and financial aid.

If you’re a startup on the cusp of launching an innovative product or service, you could apply for matched funding of up to $1 million under the Accelerating Commercialisation grant. A Business Growth Grant will reimburse you up to 50% of the cost, to a maximum of $20,000, of hiring an expert to implement strategies recommended through evaluation, growth, supply chain facilitation, or tourism partnership programmes. Entrepreneurs can also apply for the Innovation Connections grant, which offers free expert advice on ventures where research is required. It even provides pathways to collaborate with the research and development (R&D) sector, and offers up to $50,000 in funding for collaborative projects.

2. Export Market Development Grant (EMDG)

Administered by Austrade, the EMDG scheme reimburses expenses incurred for export promotional activities to existing and aspiring Australian exporters. Businesses that have spent $15,000 or more on export promotional activities can apply for reimbursement for 50% of the costs, to a maximum of $150,000. Promotional expenditure can include overseas marketing representatives, consultants, or buyers, marketing travel, related registration or insurances, free samples, trade events, or paid advertising, and can be for the export of goods or services, intellectual property, or to promote an Australian event or conference.

3. R&D Tax Incentive

The R&D Tax Incentive encourages business innovation benefiting Australia by offering a tax offset for eligible R&D activities. Companies with an annual turnover of less than $20 million can claim a 43.5% refundable tax offset against R&D expenditure, up to $100 million. A non-refundable tax offset of 38.5% is available to all other eligible companies, which can be carried forward if not used in that income year. Eligible R&D activities are grouped into core activities – those conducted for the purpose of creating new knowledge or improved materials, products, devices, processes, or services – and supporting activities, which are directly related to core activities.

If you are eligible to claim the incentive, register your R&D activities with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science prior to lodging your company income tax return.

4. Certain Inputs to Manufacture (CIM) programme

Designed to support Australian manufacturers, the CIM programme offers import duty concessions to businesses that buy raw materials from offshore vendors. To be eligible for the concession, the imported product must be of superior quality to products found in Australia, or demonstrate a performance advantage in the end product’s overall design. Eligible goods include chemicals, plastics and paper goods, or metal materials and goods used in food packaging.

5. Australian Apprenticeships Incentive Programme

If you’re considering hiring an apprentice, you’ll be glad to hear that the federal government provides financial incentives to assist Australian employers. Under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentive Programme, businesses that employ an apprentice are eligible for a one-off payment between $750 and $4,000, depending on the certificate level completed. Financial support is also offered to businesses that take on mature-aged apprentices and those with disabilities.

6. Business Development and Assistance Program

The Business Development and Assistance Program provides support and funding – including concessional loans and asset leasing – to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people looking to start a small business or grow their existing business. Financial aid is offered for startup or working capital, or to purchase existing businesses, plant and equipment, or other commercial assets.

The application process

Securing a government grant could give your small business a much-needed financial boost. But navigating the application process can be minefield if you’re not prepared. Get ready to complete all the necessary paperwork, showing up-to-date financials or projections of income, expenses, and capital expenditure. Accounting software such as QuickBooks Online makes it easy to produce accurate financial reports, like your profit and loss statement, in just a few clicks.

The time frame for approval once you’ve submitted an application varies from 3 to 12 weeks, and you can expect a thorough follow-up if you’re shortlisted. If you are issued a grant or any financial aid, you will likely be required to submit regular performance reports to keep receiving the grant.

To learn more about starting a new business, check out these resources.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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