Home Articles How to secure a government grant (questions answered)

How to secure a government grant (questions answered)

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Australian Anthill Magazine
Dec 2008/Jan 2009

As part of the Magazine 2.0 Experiment, we asked our readers to pose questions via our blog concerning the government grant process. Then, our grant guru, Adrian Spencer, did his best to answer them. Here are the results.

Question from Carli Johnston:

I want to start a business in the Niche fashion design area.

It is regarding a directional youth-culture-driven plus-size label.

I intend on manufacturing locally due to minimums, then creating a following and expand internationally for sales and production.

Do you have any suggestions?

Adrian’s response:

Often the hardest problem is knowing where to start. I always start by thinking about the relevant categories. In your case, this could include start-up grants, fashion grants, small business grants, export grants and jobs support. It sounds like a lot, but under these categories there aren’t many grants. I’d suggest you try the following:

1. Textile, Clothing and Footwear Small Business Program. This is a great program run by AusIndustry and Round 3 is now open. Grants up to $50,000 are available. Closing date is 11 December. Check out the AusIndustry website (www.ausindustry.gov.au)

2. If you need a business plan, market research or professional services to help in the start-up stage of your business, your State Government may be able to help. They often run programs that provide rebates or training to get started.

3. When considering export, we suggest you chat to Austrade (www.austrade.gov.au). They have a great program, EMDG, that will reimburse some of you marketing costs to overseas buyers. This might be useful down the track. You might also want to consider training programs that State and Local Government provide. There are also training programs for Women in business. Look up: www.business.gov.au. However,most people usually find that cash is best!

Also remember not to just rely on grants. Government looks for strong cash-flow and a good commercialisation plan. Generally, grants help achieve growth for a project or a specific part of your business.

Question from Paul Bailey:

We have a full patent on a skin cancer paste, which not only detects but eliminates all forms. Now the feds have excluded us from the AusIndustry dollar-for-dollar grant deal, as we are not in the “green” category. It has halted our entry into clinical trials. We are a private Australian company looking for direction.

Adrian’s response:

The loss of the Commercial Ready program came as a surprise and a blow, especially to many IT and Biotech companies. Your options at the moment are fairly restricted. Significant amounts of grant funding are provided to biotech and pharmaceutical research through the NHMRC and ARC Linkage grants. While these are great sources of funding, there are limitations and IP use/ownership can become a sticking point in the collaborative agreements with universities or research agencies. Some states have useful programs, such as Queensland, which has just announced a new round of the QLD Smart Futures Fund (closing very soon). Victoria will announce funding details early next year. The current green paper, released under the National Innovation Review, has recommended more support for your area, and there may be new programs coming, but I suspect that waiting and hoping for the right grant will not help at the moment. I hope you are able to find the support you need.

Question from William Buttersworth:

Let’s say your organisation has secured a government grant and the first instalment of money has come through. What sort of guidance/mentoring is available regarding how to best use the funds? Are these services provided as part of the grant package or do you have to go to a third party if you require this sort of direction?

Adrian’s response:

Before you receive the first payment, you will have signed a contract agreeing how to spend your grant funds. In the grant application, applicants must spell out the proposed activities and group them into milestones, along with a budget. These milestones will then be written into your grant contract. Note that some milestone payments are made before you commence each milestone and some are made on successful completion of each milestone. This varies for different programs.

The following rules normally apply:

1. You must complete each milestone before your next amount of funding is awarded.

2. Most government departments will allow for a small amount of slippage in time or costs.

3. If you need to change your milestones, try and do this before you sign the grant contract.

In relation to seeking help from a consultant, the applicant is usually best placed to determine the type of activities that should be undertaken, the timeframes and the budget. Happy grant hunting.


Adrian Spencer
is a dedicated grants specialist. He has accessed over $40 Million for organisations through State and Federal Government grants, rebates and concessions. Adrian is the Founder and CEO of GrantReady www.grantready.com.au

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