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Businesses will need to think more strategically about which government grants to apply for following the recent belt-tightening of the budget.
9 July 2014
The budget repair task has meant the pool of available money is smaller, the grants are more modest and business owners will need to adapt accordingly.
Chief executive of consultancy outfit Insight Business, Martin Reed, told Dynamic Business the changed circumstances meant that companies needed to be more strategic about which grants they applied for.
There are already hundreds of different grants for business, communities and different niche groups. Mr Reed suggested that business owners use the government’s “grant-finder” website to try and find the most appropriate one for them.
“Don’t employ a shot gun approach. Actually spend time and select the right grant for your business before you start,” he said. “Once you do find the right grant, write your application with the end in mind. Think of what they’re looking for.”
“I would show to the (grant) reviewer that there are strong pathways to success and the grant is just one helpful step along that pathway,” he said.
Mr Reed said it was important to include supporting documentation to underscore the performance and future goals of the business. Grants are also generally not awarded to sole traders and there are very few grants targeted at start-ups. The other option is to employ someone to assist you in the application process.
Ben Cusack, founder of bulletpoint, (another consultancy helping businesses to secure government grants), told Dynamic Business there were a number of programs and tax incentives that were worth exploring. He said the R&D tax incentive giving companies a rebate for developing new products and services was currently underutilized.
Following the budget, the R&D tax incentive gives a 43.5 per cent refundable tax offset to eligible businesses if their turnover is less than $20 million. If turnover exceeds $20 million a business-owner is entitled to a 38.5 per cent tax offset. Any unused portion of this offset cannot be refunded, although it may be carried forward into future years.
Another option is the Export Market Development Grant run by Austrade and which encourages entrepreneurs to expand their export opportunities. It allows businesses to receive a 50 per cent rebate on overseas promotional/marketing costs in excess of $5,000.
There are also a range of initiatives contained in the new $484.2 million Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Programme which is an amalgam of previous schemes. Under the programme’s “business management” stream, advisors with private sector experience can be brought in to review a business and make recommendations on its improvement. Matched funding of up to $20,000 can be provided to implement the recommendations.
Under the “commercialising ideas” stream, funding is provided to a business to help it take a product or innovation to market. Matched funding of up to $250,000 can be provided to help the business advance the commercialisation of their idea.