The best funding applications are based on projects that are genuinely important and reflect real need. Strong and competitive applications should demonstrate firm commitment and be enthusiastically supported, both from within and outside the organisation. This should be clear in the application.
Too many organisations become blinkered or enamoured with their project. Be careful not to grow so close to the project, its benefits and its needs, that you forget to be objective in the application process. Remember, it’s not about you – it’s about them!
So, it is important before commencing an application to clearly define your project. You will find the grant application process much easier if you prepare well in the beginning. Time spent in the early stages to scope your project will save time and effort later on.
THE FIRST THING
Invest your time wisely. Grants are often referred to as free money, because you don’t have to repay the money. However, the application process still takes considerable time and effort so there is an opportunity cost and impact on your business.
DEFINING THE PROJECT
In planning your project, your organisation will need to come to an agreed position on the scope, purpose and outcomes for the project. Everyone involved should have a common understanding of what you are trying to achieve and should agree and be able to present the same idea.
Use the following questions to help translate your concept into tangible (and hopefully achievable) aims. In the simplest case, you should be able to show at least the following information:
- What you want to do
- Why it’s a good idea
- What the cost will be
- Who will benefit from the project
- How you will make it work
- How you will evaluate and monitor to show it has been a success
Beware the Showstopper!
Before you proceed any further with your project you should consider what other people are doing and any support you may need. You may want to find out if there is likely to be a situation that would prevent your project from proceeding. Is your project unique? Are others trying to achieve the same goal? Would they like to support you?
Program administrators can find it frustrating if they receive multiple applications for funding from similar groups that do not coordinate or collaborate on their activities, especially when the project will serve the same demographic.
Your supporters may contribute with cash, in-kind or letters of recommendation and support. These contributions may take considerable time to document, especially if agreements are required to be drawn-up or if they require internal sign-off. Therefore, you may wish to gauge as early as possible their willingness to participate and provide the supporting documentation required.
Do You Have the Right Resources?
Do you have the right people available to write a successful grant application?
Do you have the time to organise and write a successful grant application?
Do you have the expertise to make your proposed project work?
R&D Tax Offset – in the News
This program has gained considerable press recently. Should you be worried? Well, yes and no!
If you have incurred expenditure on R&D in the last financial year, you may be entitled to a cash rebate through the R&D Tax Offset. In the 2005-06 financial year over 1,300 companies applied for the R&D Tax Offset receiving an average cash rebate of $110,000.
Now, the ATO is cracking down on companies that claimed expenditure (such as salary) that has not been paid, and probably will not be paid. So be sure to check your eligibility for the program and the expenditure you wish to claim.
Since the program can provide a cash rebate, it is very attractive to small companies. But to save worry during an audit, it is often best to seek professional assistance with this program. If your accountant or consultant offers to assist, ask about their experience and track record.
TIP: When submitting an R&D Tax Offset claim you must include your AusIndustry registration number in your income tax return. Don’t use last year’s number. To obtain your AusIndustry registration number, you will need to complete your R&D claim and lodge with AusIndustry. If your company’s financial period is from 1 July to 30 June, you have until 30 April 2008 to lodge your 2006/07 claim.
Commercial Ready Plus – now available for grants less than $250,000
Horticulture Australia R&D Industry Grants – open from 6 October to 19 November 2007
Food Innovation Grant (FIG) – Round 2 preliminary applications must be lodged by 8 November 2007
Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) – closes 30 November, 2007
Around the nation
NSW – BioBusiness Proof of Concept Grant, close 31 October 2007
VIC – Grow Your Business Grant (including Business Planning), DIIRD – now open
QLD – Partnerships Alliances Facilitation Program – now open
SA – BioInnovation SA Grants – now open
TAS – Tasmanian Innovations Program –26 October 2007
WA – Innovation to Market Rebate (SBDC) – now open
Adrian Spencer is a dedicated grants specialist at GrantReady. He has been exclusively assisting organisations across Australia to access State and Federal Government grants, rebates and concessions. www.grantready.com.au