Up to $400,000 is available to help councils in sustaining their communities and maintaining local services.
The Innovation Fund is a $4 million grants program, established under the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future reforms, to help rural councils with populations of less than 10,000 explore new ways of working.
The NSW Government is pleased to make available an Innovation Fund to promote new solutions for small rural communities. Small regional and rural communities in NSW face unique issues and challenges. The Innovation Fund recognises that one size does not fit all NSW councils.
It will provide one-off grants to help them develop new ways of working and improve their performance to benefit their local communities. The new ways of working might include developing more efficient processes, different ways of delivering services, sharing resources with other councils, or using technology to help overcome the challenge of distance.
Up to $2 million is available in each round and one-off grants can be applied for:
- Up to $150,000 for individual councils
- Up to $400,000 for projects involving more than one council (at least one of which must have a population of <10,000).
For each grant, a co-contribution of at least 30% is required from the council or council group. This co-contribution can be either cash or in-kind contributions, such as labour, equipment, facilities, land/property or other resources.
The grants are mainly for implementation costs, but up to 20% can be allowed for project planning and administration. Multiple council projects may be funded providing these do not exceed the funding limits
The program aims to improve the long-term sustainability of small councils and ensure that their communities continue to receive quality services.
Applications are invited for projects that focus on:
- Improved governance
- Systems improvement
- Service delivery
- Innovative infrastructure
- Creative use of technology
- Performance improvement
- Capacity building and sharing innovation
Examples of projects that may be suitable for funding include:
- Resource sharing between councils
- Shared administration
- Improved financial or governance systems
- Alternative service delivery models
- Service review projects
- Specialty service models
- Projects using new technologies to overcome the challenges of remote/rural communities
- Projects using innovative infrastructure building or maintenance techniques that are suited to rural/remote applications
- Projects aimed at capacity building within the organisation/s
- Projects that aim to share learning, skills or innovation across multiple councils
- Projects identified in your Council’s Fit for the Future Action Plan that explore a new way of working
- Projects that build on existing innovations that are working well and/or can be extended to other councils. These will be considered on a case-bycase basis.
- Local councils in regional NSW that have a population of less than 10,000
- Councils in the Far West region of NSW with a population less than 10,000
- Councils can apply individually, or as a group. When applying as a group, the grouping may include a larger council as a mentor, sponsor or partner. It is important that the primary beneficiary of the project is the eligible small council and its community.
- Eligible councils that are unsuccessful in round one may reapply in round two.
- Councils that are part of a merger proposal process are not eligible to apply for a grant. However, at the conclusion of the merger process these councils may apply in the second round of funding (if they meet the eligibility criteria in these guidelines).
Applications for round one close 1 April 2016. Details of Round 2 will be announced later in 2016.