How to Find Grants Available for Software Development

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

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

TL;DR

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).

A graph showing the different grants available and how much money is available

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):

Queensland Grants

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:

  1. Future plan­ning,
  2. Specialised and au­to­mated soft­ware and;
  3. 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.

A roadmap showing what grants are avialable at which stage of the software development lifecycle

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!

a screengrab of the coviu website showing their software offerings

You can find more in­for­ma­tion about the Building Partnerships grant here.

Victoria Grants

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.

National Grants

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.

A screenshot of the Accurait website showing their software offerings.

Phew!

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.

Please note:

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.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Hudson

Digital cre­ative and hater of gluten

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