Innovator? Exporter? Here's how to get free money from the Government

  • By Lior Stein
  • 13 Feb, 2017

An anomaly about government funding is that despite being such an attractive source of cash, the majority of eligible companies either don’t know it exists or don’t know how to access it.

If I were to simplify government grants I would explain them in two points:

The first being Innovation and the second being assistance for bringing foreign revenue to Australia.

The benefit involved in attaining government funding can be quite large and at times could amount to between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of funds spent in innovation or marketing to foreign markets.

INNOVATION GRANTS

Ask yourself the following question: are you doing something different that you believe your competitors aren’t doing, and that is new in the space?

If your answer’s yes, the next step would be to consider the three basic principles of innovation grants

1. New Knowledge 2. Experimentation and 3. Uncertainty

These three principles all flow into each other.

Lets explain these principles using actual case studies.

1. New knowledge begins by identifying a gap in the market.

A toy company (Copter’s Pty Ltd) that manufactures radio controlled helicopters decided to develop a new model that included a multi-lingual voice recognition system. The company wanted to integrate headset and microphone control into their helicopters. Some web searches were done and the result was that there seems to not be an off the shelf product available in the world that solves this problem.

An organic beverage manufacturer and formulator (Organics Pty Ltd) realised that the short shelf life of organic beverages is a limiting factor for exportation. Some web searches were done and the result was that there seems to not be an off the shelf product available in the world that solves this problem.

2.Experimentation

Copter’s Pty Ltd soon realised that the new additions proposed many challenges. The engineers had to trial different technologies in order to get the best result.

At this point Organics Pty Ltd started developing a solution to fill the gap that was found. The development process required experimentation and different iterations of the product. The process is an ongoing process as Organics Pty Ltd is continuing to improve their findings in this area.

3.Uncertainty

Both Copter’s Pty Ltd and Organics Pty Ltd didn’t have certainty at the outset that these new projects were going to work. They did believe that each would be a success but the final products were achieved through much trial and error.

These final products are the items that filled the initial gap and are now the new knowledge that each company has brought to the world.

The main innovation grant available in Australia is the R&D Tax Incentive and can definitely be applied to the manufacturing industry should the project be eligible. You can find more information and apply for it   here .

FOREIGN REVENUE BEING BROUGHT TO AUSTRALIA GRANTS

This avenue is simpler to explain than that of innovation grants.

There is funding available for exporters who are spending money on marketing their products to foreign markets.

Again, three basic principles, the first being an Australian product, the second being that revenue flows to Australia and the third being that marketing expenses are recognised in Australia.

1.Australian Product

The product needs to be either completely made in Australia or the majority of the product made in Australia.

If the products have an element made in a foreign country e.g.China it could still be considered an Australian product.

2.Revenue flows to Australia

The revenue gained from the Australian products being marketed abroad needs to be recognised in the Australian entity.

An entity need not have actual revenue in the first two years of applying for this grant.

3.Marketing expenditure being recognised in Australia

Expenditure spent on marketing to foreign markets needs to be recognised in the Australian entity.

These expenses could include staff and consultants employed in the foreign country, flights, conferences attended, Google and Facebook advertising, websites targeted overseas, trademarks and patents, pamphlets and flyers made and free samples being given to enter a market.

The incentive described above is known as the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG), and it can be applied for   here .

EMDG offers up to a 50 per cent grant on the expenses described above.

Statistics show that about 70 per cent of eligible Australian companies either are unaware that they are eligible, or simply don’t know how to go about accessing the funding available.

Best practice would be to consider the principles explained above, and enquire as to a possible benefit and eligibility.

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