There are over 600 government grants available in Australia, worth over a massive $50 billion. Every year the Australian Government announces new grants in addition to the ones that are available time and time again, and just to make matters interesting, each grant has its own unique timeline and requirements.
So, you may be asking, am I eligible for any of these grants to help fund my business’ software development?
The short answer is... maybe. But let’s get into the long answer below.
In this article, I’m going to outline some of the state and national grants that are most likely applicable to you and your business if you’re looking to build custom software in the future. By no means is this list exhaustive and I encourage you to do some further investigation if you’re interested in applying for grants to supplement your funding! We’ll look at:
- What types of grants are available?
- Where can you look to find appropriate grants?
- Queensland specific grants
- New South Wales specific grants
- Victoria specific grants
- National grants
In case you just want a quick snapshot of what grants may be available, I’ve got you covered. Here’s a graphic we did up to showcase which grants are applicable to you at each stage you may be at on your journey to software development success, and how much they might be worth to you (it’s all about those all-important $$’s).
Looks pretty compelling, right? If you're interested in knowing more, carry on reading!
First things first
Typically, there are two types of grants:
- Rebates - for things you have already done, such as Research & Development
- Competitive Grants - for things you are going to do in the future
Now, if you’ve done any other research before you ended up here, the first funding opportunity you may stumble across is the Research & Development Tax Incentive (R&DTI) – the R&DTI is technically a rebate so we've written a whole separate blog on it (as well as some other tax incentives) if you’re interested in learning more about it. For the purpose of this article, we are going to be talking about competitive grants.
The first thing to prepare yourself for is that grants can be extremely competitive. Being eligible for a grant doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to get it. Eligibility is the absolute bare minimum, and oftentimes the rest comes down to a stellar application and building a strong case. While you can always invest the time and effort into preparing your own application (the Australian Government provides comprehensive application writing tips), it is sometimes helpful to gain the insight of a professional.
There are plenty of grant specialists out there who write grant applications for a living, and not only that, they’re able to advise you if applying for a grant is the right move for you in the first place. Writing an application can take anywhere from days to months, so it’s definitely worthwhile to know if you’ve got a genuine chance of winning.
Though, of course, you gotta be in it to win it!
Where to look
Government grants are available at local, state and national levels, so keep this in mind when you’re on the lookout for possible opportunities. The most comprehensive place to find relevant information is the Grant Opportunity List on GrantConnect or the Queensland Government Grants Finder for Queensland specifically. Alternatively, you can take this quiz to get a recommendation specific to your business from Ben over at Bulletpoint (one of the professional grant writers I mentioned earlier!).
The Grant Opportunity List in particular can be a little overwhelming, so it’s a good idea to narrow your search terms. This is especially handy when you consider that it’s also possible that there may be funding that you can leverage that is industry-specific, but I’ll cover that a bit more later on.
Without further ado, here are a few grants we recommend you take a closer look at. Pay close attention to the eligibility requirements (as mentioned earlier, these are the absolute bare minimum):
Ignite Ideas grant
To quote the Queensland Government website, “Ignite Ideas funding is available to commercialise highly innovative and new products or services that are at minimum viable product stage or beyond.” Our very own friends over at Codebots were recipients of the Ignite Ideas grant back in 2017, helping to fund the initial launch of Codebots tech!
The Ignite Ideas grant has two tiers of funding:
- Tier 1 – up to $100,000 for projects up to 12 months duration
- Tier 2 – up to $200,000 for projects up to 24 months duration
To meet the eligibility requirements, applicants must be a Queensland-based business, have less than 50 full-time equivalent employees and supply a specified portion of the project funding themselves.
The Ignite Ideas grant has recently moved into a two-stage approach. The first stage accepts Expressions of Interest (EOI) before selecting shortlisted applicants to submit full applications.
At the time of writing, the Ignite Ideas grant has just closed for round 8 of funding but will reopen in the coming months for round 9. Enough time to get those wheels turning!
More information on the grant and its eligibility criteria is available here.
Business Boost grant
Earlier this year the Queensland Government announced 3 new grants packages set to deliver funding to small businesses over the course of the next 2 years. The Queensland Government states that the program “provides support to businesses to advance improvements in their efficiency and productivity.” Included in the funding package were the Business Basics grant, the Business Boost grant & the Business Growth Fund. The Business Boost grant is the most applicable out of the 3 to software development.
The best thing about this grant is that it specifically mentions the design, build and implementation of various forms of software, including Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, asset management and even complex website builds. However, it’s important to note that some activities are excluded, such as the maintenance of existing digital technologies.
The program funds aren’t just for the development of custom software though. The program delivers up to $15,000 towards projects under 3 areas, which are:
- Future planning,
- Specialised and automated software and;
- Staff management, development and planning.
To be eligible to receive the grant applicants must:
- have fewer than 20 employees at the time of applying for the grant
- have an active Australian Business Number (ABN) and registered for GST
- have a Queensland headquarters
- have a turnover of between $300,000 (minimum) and $600,000 (maximum) in the last financial year (2020–21)
- have a publicly reachable web presence to identify business operations (e.g. business website and/or social media pages)
- not be insolvent or have owners/directors that are an undischarged bankrupt.
The Business Boost grant has recently closed for applications but may reopen again in the new financial year. To find out more about the Business Boost grant you can read about it here.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the Small Business Grant schedule if you fit in that category, as there are grants reopened or new grants added regularly. You can see the grants that are specifically applicable to small businesses (marked with a star) below.
New South Wales grants
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) grant
One of the most suitable and aptly-named grants out there for our New South Wales-dwelling friends – the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) grant! If you’re unsure what an MVP is, or all you can think about is basketball players, we explain it in greater detail here.
The New South Wales Government describes the MVP grant as, “designed for pre-revenue technology startups to help them engage with a potential business customer, or channel to market, to achieve market validation and first sale”.
Essentially, what this means is that the NSW Government is allocating up to $25,000 in matched-funding to start-ups that already have their Proof of Concept, to help them progress to the next stage of software development.
To qualify for the MVP grant applicants must be able to demonstrate the following:
- Have an ABN registered in NSW and be based in NSW.
- The business entity must be at pre-revenue stage.
- Have a completed proof of concept (e.g. customer interviews, surveys, or focus groups).
- Have a potential business customer (B2B) or business channel to market (B2C).
- Have a scalable solution that can be deployed to multiple customers.
- Hold IP or the rights to commercialise.
- Demonstrate that 80% of development costs will occur in NSW.
- Demonstrate adequate matched funding has been secured for the project.
The Minimum Viable Product grant is open year-round, making the perfect time to apply right now!
Building Partnerships grant
If you’re a bit past the MVP stage, or are a Small to Medium-sized Enterprise (SME), then the Building Partnerships grant may be better suited to you. This grant offers up to 35% project funding, with a maximum of $100,000, and requires applicants to have “an innovative solution that addresses a market gap or opportunity and the collaboration of a consortium of partners”.
Eligibility requirements are as follows:
- be post revenue
- have an innovative and scalable solution that can be deployed to multiple customers and be delivered within 12 months
- demonstrate a consortium of partners who derive benefits from the proposed project
- have a NSW based ABN and be registered for GST
- hold intellectual property or rights to commercialise the product or solution
- demonstrate adequate funding (at least 65% of total project costs) has been secured for the project.
An example of an Australian start-up who leveraged the Building Partnerships grants is that of Coviu telehealth software – you might have heard of them or even used the platform yourself. Coviu were awarded the BP grant in early 2020 and their software now helps deliver up to a whopping 25,000 online medical appointments each day!
You can find more information about the Building Partnerships grant here.
Technology Adoption and Innovation Program grant
The Technology Adoption and Innovation Program was launched in April of 2021 – the new program offers up to $50,000 in funding and “aims to provide support to eligible Victorian small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) to on-board innovative technologies or develop innovative, new and commercial technology by co-contributing funding support for projects”. The funding will deliver $5 million in matched grants to eligible businesses across the state.
The grant is comprised of two streams which are outlined below:
Stream 1 – SME technology and digital adoption
- Grants of up to $50,000 for Victorian SMEs to adopt technology or digital solutions to improve their processes and productivity and support their future growth.
Stream 2 – Innovative, commercial technology development
- Grants of up to $50,000 for Victorian technology companies to implement defined projects to develop commercial technology or digital products.
Eligible SMEs must meet the following criteria to be eligible for assistance under the program:
- operate a business located within Victoria
- hold an Australian Business Number (ABN)
- be registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- employ at least 5 FTE (full-time equivalent) staff and no more than 200 staff
- can contribute a minimum of $20,000 (GST exclusive) towards eligible project expenditure and match any grant funding on a 1:1 fund basis
- have met all industrial relations obligations as an employer in accordance with the National Employment Standards
You can find more information about the Technology Adoption and Innovation Program here.
Accelerating Commercialisation grant
If you’ve already got a novel product, process or service (say, some innovative software you have developed, for instance!) and you’re an SME, entrepreneur or researcher, then the Accelerating Commercialisation grant may be for you. You could receive up to $500,000 or $1,000,000 of matched funding, depending on your circumstances.
This grant is set out a little bit differently to some of the others we’ve talked about in this article – it first requires the applicant to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to receive expert advice and guidance from “an AusIndustry Customer Service Manager or an Accelerating Commercialisation Facilitator”. If the product, process or service is deemed appropriate for the grant the applicant can then apply for funding. You must receive this guidance before you can apply for the grant.
Other eligibility requirements are as follows:
- be non-tax exempt
- be registered for GST
- be one of the following entities:
- a company incorporated in Australia and a trading corporation, where your trading activities:
- form a sufficiently significant proportion of the corporation’s overall activities as to merit it being described as a trading corporation
- are a substantial and not merely peripheral activity of the corporation
- a Research Commercialisation Entity or Eligible Partner Entity as defined in the grant opportunity guidelines
- be undertaking an eligible project
- have the ownership, access or beneficial use of any intellectual property you need to undertake the commercialisation project
- provide evidence of your ability to fund at least 50 per cent of eligible project expenditure, such as funding strategy and a bank statement or loan agreement. You must also provide an Accountant Declaration that confirms your ability to fund the project
- meet the turnover test (you must have a combined annual turnover of less than $20 million for each of the previous 3 financial years)
The Accelerating Commercialisation grant is currently open and you can even apply through their online portal. We love it when people make things easy!
CSIRO Kick-Start grant
It’s important to keep in mind that the most useful grant available to you may not be what you expect.
For example, if your idea or service includes research that the CSIRO may be able to deliver (such as agriculture, food or health) the Kick-Start grant is available. The Kick-Start grant delivers dollar-matched funding between $10,000-$50,000 to eligible Australian businesses.
To be eligible to access the funding applicants must be able to demonstrate that they:
- Have an annual turnover and operating expenditure <$1.5million, in the current and each of the two previous financial years OR have been a registered company for less than three years
- Have an ACN and be registered for GST
- Be able to demonstrate they can fully support their proportion of the project funding
So, how can this be utilised for software development? One notable success story to come out of the Kick-Start grant is that of Accurait®. The Accurait® software utilises Artificial Intelligence (AI), developed using the CSIRO’s Data61 technology.
Didn’t know the CSIRO were into AI? You can check out all the different areas of speciality within the CSIRO on their website – you might be surprised.
If you made it all the way to the end of this article – well done. You now have (by my estimation) one million per cent more information about eligible grants for software development than your competitors.
That can only mean one thing – you're ready to book a free product strategy session with us to get the ball rolling on your awesome software idea! Or, if you still need some inspiration, you can check out some of our cracking success stories.
This article should not be construed as legal or financial advice. This should give you an introductory understanding of some of the grants available before you seek further professional advice.