Grants for start ups and innovators

Innovation grants update

The first step regarding grants and incentives is to ascertain what aspects of innovation or growth a company may be seeking assistance for.

The premise of mainstream government assistance available for SMEs, broadly, is to support start-up and growth around innovation, commercialisation and export marketing.

Depending upon the program and assistance mechanism, support is provided either via reimbursement of relevant, eligible company expenditure upon completion of activity, or through a competitive application to secure funding prior to project commencement.


1. Innovation Support:


Research & Development (R&D) Tax Incentive

The R&D Tax Incentive is obtained via annual application followed by a company’s tax return submission.  The incentive assists Product or Process or Service Innovation and Development and is retrospective to the previous financial year.  The incentive supports New Knowledge Investigation and associated eligible activity and inputs.

The R&D Tax Incentive has two core components, a 45% refundable tax offset to eligible entities with turnover less than $20 million per annum and a 40% non-refundable tax offset to all other eligible entities.  Claims are made relevant to the completed, previous financial year (currently 2014-15). Eligible R&D activities are defined as either ‘Core’ or ‘Supporting’ R&D.  Core activities are conducted for the purpose of generating new knowledge (in the form of new or improved materials, products, devices, processes or services).  Supporting activities are activities directly related to core R&D activities.

All companies incorporated in Australia and undertaking eligible R&D activities are entitled to apply for registration (minimum spend $20k, unless engaging a registered research provider). Project activities need to be performed in a systematic way, involving investigation and experimentation. The organisation claiming must be undertaking projects on their own behalf. The application period is 10 months from financial year end, in mosts cases 1 July – 30 April.

Further information on the R&D Tax Incentive can be found at:


2. Business Growth Support:


Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Program

The Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Program is the Australian Government’s flagship initiative for business competitiveness and productivity at the firm level, offering support to businesses through three elements:

  • Business Management – providing support for business improvement and growth;
  • Research Connections – helping small and medium businesses collaborate with the research sector to develop new ideas with commercial potential; and
  • Accelerating Commercialisation – helping entrepreneurs, researchers, start-ups and businesses address key challenges in the commercialisation pathway of bringing novel products, processes and service to the market.

The program uses quality facilitators and advisers, drawn from industry, to ensure businesses get the advice and support they need to improve competiveness and productivity.  The primary focus is on providing access to the best advice and networks to solve their problems rather than focusing on financial assistance. Practical support for businesses includes: advice from people with relevant private sector experience; co-funded grants to commercialise new products, processes and services to take advantage of growth and connection and collaboration opportunities.

Business Management

Business Evaluations – an assessment conducted at a business’ premises, resulting in a detailed report and recommendations for the business to make improvements.

Supply Chain Facilitation – offers businesses a practical approach to assist in interacting with and supplying into new and existing markets.

Business Growth Services – offers eligible high growth potential businesses access to specialist advisers, services and connections to accelerate growth over a period of up to two years.

Business Growth Grants – small, co-funded grants to engage external expertise to assist businesses with implementing improvements recommended by their Business Evaluation.

Research Connections

Research Connections is a facilitated service to:

  • dentify critical and strategic research needs and opportunities for the business
  • support the business to connect with sources of expertise, technology and advice
  • provide pathways to engage and collaborate with the research sector


Further information on the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Program can be found at:


3. Commercialisation Support:


Accelerating Commercialisation Grant

The Federal Government’s Accelerating Commercialisation Grant (AC Grant) matches company project funding 50-50.  Matching funds need to be in place at the time of the commercialisation project proceeding.  Applications are assessed via ongoing rounds throughout the year. The AC grant application is a competitive process, requiring clarity around the following key points:

  • Definition of a novel product/process/system that requires commercialisation assistance
  • Aspects of commercialisation an entity is seeking funding support for
  • How much funding an entity may wish to apply for and is that support able to be matched
  • The inability to obtain full project funding from other sources
  • IP usage, ownership and benefit thereof



  • Non, tax-exempt company incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001  that is registered for GST
  • Combined annual turnover of the applicant and of each related body corporate (if any) for each of the three years prior to lodgement of the application is less than $20 million
  • You have a novel product, process or service you wish to commercialise and trade to customers external to the state or territory of your place of business
  • You have ownership, access to, or the beneficial use of, any intellectual property that is the subject of, or is necessary to carry out the eligible project


Eligible projects aim to achieve at least one of the following:

  • Engage external professionals, for example to confirm the market opportunity, develop the business model, identify potential partners, develop an IP strategy, raise capital, or prepare an Information Memorandum
  • Complete development of a novel product, process or service
  • Prove commercial viability of a novel product, process or service to a customer, investor or strategic partner
  • Make the first sales of the novel product, process or service in Australia or overseas
  • Engage a senior experienced executive to fill a key gap in the management team, which is essential to achievement of your commercialisation outcomes


Further information on the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Program can be found at:


Queensland Business Development Fund

The Queensland Business Development Fund is a part of the Advance Queensland suite of programs.  It matches investor input into a company for eligible commercialisation purposes.  The Fund is designed to help Queensland businesses commercialise research or innovative ideas, products or services. Application is via ongoing rounds, focusing on early stage and follow-on investments.  The Fund will invest between $125,000 and $2.5 million in a Queensland based business.

The Fund is seeking to encourage new investors to Queensland. A business must be supported by a co-investor who has committed to at least match the investment sought from the Fund.  It is the coinvestor who applies for fund investment and they will need to provide ongoing support and mentorship to the business.


Further information on the Business Development Fund can be found at:


Ignite Ideas Fund

The Ignite Ideas Fund supports businesses to commercialise their innovative idea, product, process or service.  Funding is available to help businesses by supporting activities that prove your idea will work or to assist with identifying a market or investor for your product, process or service.  This fund aims to support the development of new or improved products, processes or services to secure investment, launch into global markets and grow business.

  • Tier One—applicants can apply for up to $100,000 (ex GST) per project [60 to 100 per cent funded, of total eligible project costs, depending on the size of your organisation i.e. within the range 0-199 FTE]
  • Tier Two—applicants can apply for up to $250,000 (ex GST) per project [50 percent funded]
  • Quarterly application rounds
  • Applications must be received at least 6 weeks before the commencement date of project


  • A Queensland based business with less than 200 full time equivalent staff – a company incorporated in Queensland, or will be incorporated as a company in Queensland at the time of the award;
  • Can demonstrate a clear road to market that will deliver jobs and create new markets for Queensland
  • Have a product, process or service which is at, or beyond, minimum viable product/working prototype/defined target stage
  • Have the potential to achieve high growth
  • Have an identified customer, industry partner or investor.


Further information on the Ignite Ideas Fund can be found at:


4. Export Marketing Support:


Export Market Development Grant

The Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) reimburses 50% of those expenses above a $5,000 threshold (minimum) up to a limit of $150,000.  The EMDG provides up to eight (8) grants to each eligible applicant.  Eligible applicants are Australian-based businesses, individuals, partnerships, companies, statutory corporations, co-ops and trusts that have:

  • Carried on an export business in Australia during the grant year
  • Annual income not more than $50m
  • Exported or promoted export eligible goods, most services, intellectual property or know how, or promoted events held in Australia
  • Spent at least $15,000 on eligible export promotion activities over the last financial year (or the last two financial years for the first grant)

Eligible Expense Categories:

  • Overseas representation – maintaining an overseas representative on a long-term basis in a foreign country
  • Marketing consultants – engagement of a consultant, either in or outside Australia, to undertake market research or marketing activities for the applicant
  • Marketing visits – any marketing visit made in or outside Australia by the applicant or applicant’s agent for the purposes of export promotion
  • Communications – any communication by the applicant or its agent with a potential buyer or a distributor, representative or consultant
  • Free samples – free samples of product provided outside Australia
  • Trade fairs, seminars and in-store promotions – participation by the applicant or its agent in a trade fair, seminar or in-store promotion
  • Promotional Literature and Advertising – media advertising including internet
  • Overseas Buyers – visits by existing or potential overseas buyers to Australia to view your product
  • Registration and/or insurance of eligible intellectual property – payments made to third parties that are attributable to the registration or extension of the period of the registration of intellectual property for countries other than Australia or New Zealand

Once applicable categories are identified relevant to company activity, specific requirements for each can be considered.  Applications are accepted 1st July for previous year expenditure and the deadline is 30 November.


Further information on the EMDG can be found at:


5. Business Mentoring Support:


Mentoring for Growth

Mentoring for Growth (M4G) offers eligible businesses a free panel mentoring experience. If eligible, a business could benefit from the combined expertise of a panel of volunteer business mentors. M4G is in place to assist businesses with challenges relating to business growth and innovation. It is not recommended for startups or early stage businesses.

If selected for M4G, the Queensland Government will match panel members’ expertise and experience to your business needs. Mentor panel members are drawn from a Queensland-wide pool of registered mentors. All mentors have expertise and experience in coaching and developing businesses. Panels are held in all major centres in Queensland or by videoconference with Brisbane mentors if experienced mentors are not available near your business. Specialised panels can be convened to assist businesses with investment readiness, export readiness, and disaster recovery.


Further information on the Mentoring for Growth can be found at:

Further help:

If you’d like to discuss accessing grants for your business, please contact our business improvement advisors on 07 3023 4800 or at

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