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Grants for Australian startups

Capital is key in business, and there are some great grants offering free money to help Australian start-ups thrive.

No matter whether you are starting out or planning to expand, grants can provide a significant boost to your venture, by offering millions of dollars in free funding.

In Australia, there are scores of government-funded opportunities, and the online application process is often as simple as filling out a handful of forms.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, applying for the larger commercial programs typically takes more time and resources. But, with free capital on the table, it’s certainly worth the effort.

Here are some of the best government grants and initiatives on offer in Australia.

applying for grants

In Australia, there are plenty of business grants for both entrepreneurs and small businesses. Picture: Bench Accounting/Unsplash

1. Entrepreneurs

The Commonwealth’s Entrepreneurs Program is designed to help start-ups increase productivity and competitiveness.

Launched in 2014, the initiative not only provides funds to businesses, but also to incubators and other private-sector players that advise and support entrepreneurs on the path to success.

The multi-million-dollar mix of grants focuses on four main elements: business management, network building, knowledge gap identification, and commercialisation of new products and services.

Depending on which grant you apply for, the financial support offered varies dramatically – from subsidised management sessions to commercialisation grants valued up to $1 million.

Each grant has strict selection criteria and the process is competitive, so applications must be top-quality.

2. Scaling up

New South Wales’ Building Partnerships grants are perfect for profitable start-ups and SMEs who want to expand, hope to bag a big client, or are pivoting into a new field.

To be eligible for the grant, you must be an established, GST-registered business that possesses “an innovative and scalable solution that can be deployed to multiple customers and be delivered within 12 months”.

If successful, your business will receive 35% of the proposed project costs, up to a maximum of $100,000.

Increasing employment in the state is an important element of the application, and businesses must have a NSW-based ABN to apply.


NSW’s Building Partnerships Grants were designed to help startups scale up their businesses. Picture: Photo by Campaign Creators/Unsplash

3. E-commerce and digital technology

With Queensland’s economy highly reliant on small businesses, the state government has launched the Small Business Digital Grants Program, which aims to help small local operations beef up their digital presence and online capabilities.

It doesn’t matter if you are a backyard retailer or a tech disruptor, the Queensland Government will match up to $10,000 for the purchase of hardware, software, and digital services – so long as you are located in Queensland, have a turnover of $2 million or less, and have fewer than 20 employees at the time of your grant application.

So far, the state government has handed out millions of dollars and helped hundreds of businesses get online.

4. Mentoring

Having an encouraging and supporting role model is beneficial in business.

However, many people do not have access to the right thought leaders, so some states have public-funded programs to facilitate quality mentorships.

  • Victoria’s Small Business Mentoring Program offers free business clinics and subsidised one-on-one sessions, starting at $100 for 1.5 hours, for people starting a venture.
  • New South Wales provides small NSW-based businesses with access to mentors that provide expert advice and assistance on workplace health and safety, and also offers small businesses a safety rebate of $500.
  • Queensland’s Mentoring for Growth initiative connects start-ups with one of 500 approved experts, who volunteer advise on growth, pitching, export and investment.

There’s no substitute for lived experience when it comes to running a business, which is why mentoring is so important. Picture: Nik MacMillan/Unsplash

5. Research

Specifically designed for cutting-edge start-ups, the CSIRO Kick-Start grant offers up to $50,000 to small companies that plan to test or research a new product, process or idea with commercial potential.

The funding must be matched by the applicant, and can be used to cover research costs, travel accommodation, salaries of researchers, and external contractor expenses.

Successful businesses can also apply for a second round of funding – although the program has created a considerable amount of buzz, so you’ll need to fight off plenty of competition.

To be eligible, companies must be operating primarily in Australia, have a turnover of less than $1.5 million annually, and have been a registered company for less than three years.

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