With over 3 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs), SMEs act as a backbone to Australia’s economy. A small business is an active trading business with 0 to 19 employees while a medium-sized business is an active trading business with 20 to 199 employees. And if your business falls in the Small-Medium category there are various government and private grants, programmes, funding opportunities, tax incentives and assistance available to help you boost your business. These are provided by the Australian government, private entities and state & local governments.
Let us discuss in detail some of these grants and programmes which will help you to improve and grow your business. The list is in no particular order of significance:
- Research & Development Tax Incentive Under this scheme, if your business is incorporated and pays tax in Australia and it conducts at least one activity that meets the definition of a core R&D activity with over $20,000 expenditure on the R&D activity, then your business is eligible for a tax benefit to offset some of the cost of your eligible R&D activities. This incentive encourages the small and medium enterprises in innovation and to engage in R&D even if on a small scale.
- Certain Inputs to Manufacture (CIM) Programme Does your business require you to import chemical, plastics, paper goods, metal materials and goods used in food packaging? If so, the CIM programme is going to be beneficial in boosting your business growth. With this programme, you will get import duty concessions helping in reduction of manufacturing cost. Two conditions you need to consider is that you should be able to demonstrate that imported materials perform better for the end product than using locally-sourced alternative and you have to submit an application prior to importing the goods
- Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) Are you an exporter? Then this is the scheme for you! According to this grant, you get promotional expenses for exporting reimbursed. This is to help your business boost international sales. You will get 50% off promotional expenses reimbursed to a maximum of $150,000. Some of the eligibility criteria are – your business has to have a total income of less than $50 million in the grant year, also your business should either export intellectual property and know-how or else help promote Australia in the country they export to.
Let us now focus on some programmes which are focused on new and existing SME startups:
- Entrepreneurs’ Programme This programme assists you in not just funding and incentives, but in accessing expert advice to help boost your business. Started in the year 2014 this programme provides a network of business advisers that will help your business to grow by commercialising your product thus attracting investors. This is made possible with the help of four elements – Accelerating Commercialisation, Business Management, Incubator Support and Innovation Connections
- Accelerating Commercialisation Grants, It is a part of Accelerating Commercialisations along with Guidance and Portfolio Services. You have to receive Commercialisation Guidance before you apply for the Grant. You will get 50% of expenditure on a project funded and it is capped at $250,000. This is for commercialisation offices and eligible partner entities and for other applicants it is $1 million.
- CSIRO Kick-Start Launched in 2017, this is a scheme offering $10,000 to $50,000 funding for local startups which is to be used to cover the costs of undertaking the project such as salaries for researchers or travel and accommodation. Your business will be able to utilise CSIRO expertise to undertake research activities. This will enable you to research new ideas with commercial potential and then further develop a novel or improved product or process and then finally test a novel product or material. To avail, this grant company must be registered for GST with an annual turnover of less than $1.5 million in the current and previous 2 financial years. Some more remarkable schemes related to startups are Austrade Landing Pad and the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS).
Private entities are not far behind in helping the small and medium enterprise. Here are some private schemes that might benefit you.
- iAwards:- This award is given to businesses with cutting edge technological innovation. While this is not exactly a scheme, it does help your business to be an award-winning business and get some publicity and media coverage while earning $10,000 as a prize.
- Tech23:- Similar to iAwards there is a Tech23 program that features 23 of Australia’s most innovative young tech companies. It serves as a platform for you to present your business model to a panel of industry leaders, along with an audience which consists of a sizable number of potential investors and customers.
The list is by no means exhaustive, there are long lists of grants and programmes by the federal government and agencies. And on top of that, there are state & local government grants. In the month of March, the Victorian Government has also Announced $1.7 Billion Relief Package to Small Businesses