Government Grants 101 – How to get started

Have you considered applying for any government grants? Here’s Mia’s how-to guide to get you started.

Government grants present another form of government opportunity worth considering for many businesses. Australia’s federal and state governments offer a large number of grants to different industry sectors for a range of different purposes.

All government grants, however, are specifically designed to help governments achieve policy objectives that deliver outcomes for the Australian public and/or support industry development. This means each grant has specific eligibility criteria that need to be met for applicants to be considered. It’s therefore highly recommended you check your eligibility before putting too much work into the application.

This post is a general guide on what to expect when applying for government grants. It covers:

  • Where to look for government grants
  • How to decide which of the many government grants is for you
  • How to differentiate your application
  • A list of some of the government grants available – Victorian, NSW and federal

Where to look for government grants

Victoria: The Victorian Government’s Grants Victoria website includes over 100 different grants and assistance packages providing financial assistance to a wide range of organisations across many different industry sectors, including:

  • Agriculture Arts
  • Culture & Heritage
  • Business
  • Community
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Infrastructure
  • Justice
  • Local Government
  • Property & Planning
  • Regional & Rural
  • Sport & Recreation
  • Transport

Federal: The Australian Government’s Business/Grants & assistance website has over 280 entries that include federal and state government grants. Assistance is provided to a wide range of activities, including, but not limited to: the arts, defence, infrastructure, business, technology, innovation, regional investment, research, science and education.

How to decide which government grant is for you

To start with, you should have a clear idea about what sort of support you are looking for. Government grants are broadly offered to help businesses:

  • fund ideas and initiatives
  • develop local and national solutions, and
  • access further information.

For your business, this may take (for example) the form of:

  • funding you need to grow your business
  • expertise/mentoring to better manage your business
  • collaboration to develop a new product, or
  • office accommodation for your start-up.

What type of support or funding is available

In each government grant description, the different forms of support are typically specified. These could, for example, include straight funding, ‘expert in residence’ support, mentoring programs or taxation exemptions. Make sure this is the kind of support your business is looking for.

Depending on the nature of the funding agreement, payment will be made as a single fixed amount or matched on a dollar for dollar basis with the business (in which case the government will provide 50% of the total funding requirement up to a specified ceiling). Payments will generally be made when the grant agreement is finalised, but in some cases payment occurs once the project/program has been completed.

Eligibility: Who can apply for the grant

As mentioned, every government grant has a set of eligibility requirements. Read these carefully to make sure you can apply for the grant. Government grant applications can be time consuming, so it’s worth spending time up-front to make sure your application will be considered.

For example, the grant may be limited to a not for profit organisation, or an ‘entity incorporated in Australia’ criteria, or local government. There will also be factors that may make you ineligible, such as whether you are an individual or a partnership, your annual turnover or number of years in business.

There will also be a range of additional specific criteria, such as minimum annual turnover, years in operation, solvency etc.

How to differentiate your application

Applications for government grants are very competitive and to be successful you must differentiate your proposal from those of the other applicants. Target your project/service carefully and show that you have a strong connection to the grant and are committed to seeing it through. Also demonstrate that you have the appropriate skills, expertise and IP to be successful.

And remember these grants are designed to help governments achieve policy objectives that deliver outcomes for the Australian public. Make sure your submission addresses this key requirement.

This process is not too different from how to differentiate your business in a bid or quote. Our recent Top Tips For Making Government Sales therefore apply almost equally as well for government grant applications. Those 10 tips represent very simple, yet powerful, strategies that can help you improve the quality – and therefore the scoring – of your grant application.


Don’t lose track of the submission deadline. If you miss the date, all that work you put in will more than likely be rejected. Lodgment details and the mechanism will be provided in the grant application. Lodgment has to be made by an authorised representative of your business.

You will be informed in writing if your government grant application is successful at which time you will enter into a grant agreement. If you are unsuccessful you will be informed in writing and in some cases given feedback to assist you in further applications.

Generally each grant will contain reference guides and fact sheets, but it’s worth doing your own research that might help give you an edge against the competition. For more information about a specific grant please contact the relevant department or agency for assistance.

A list of government grants to get you started!

Australian Government

Accelerating Commercialisation Grants offer up to 50% matching funding
Provides businesses with access to expert advice and matched funding of up to $1 million to cover eligible commercialisation costs to help them to take novel products, processes and services to market.

Federal government funding for innovation, business, and R&D
Support, funding, assistance packages and loans for your business from all levels of government.

Incubator Support
Provides new and existing business incubators with matched funding of up to $500,000, to assist Australian start-ups develop the capabilities required to succeed in international markets.

Maker Projects Stream B
Maker Projects Stream B is an element of the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Program. It offers grants to support the delivery of industry-partnered STEM events and activities to young people in their communities.

Sponsorship Grants for Student Science Engagement and International Competitions
Sponsorship Grants for Student Science Engagement and International Competitions is an element of the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Program, that provides grants to organisations to sponsor eligible students to participate in conferences, competitions and other STEM related events.

National Science Week Grants
The National Science Week Grants is an annual open funding round that supports the delivery of science engagement activities during National Science Week. The next National Science Week will be held from 12 – 20 August 2017.

Entrepreneurs’ Program
The Entrepreneurs’ Program uses experienced Advisers and Facilitators, drawn from industry, to ensure businesses get the advice and support needed to improve their competitiveness, productivity and to seek growth opportunities. Practical support for businesses, researchers and entrepreneurs includes: advice from people with relevant private sector experience, co-funded grants to commercialise novel intellectual property in the form of new products, processes and services, funding to take advantage of growth opportunities, and connection and collaboration opportunities.

Innovation Connections
Provides small and medium sized businesses with access to expert technology advice to address technology and knowledge gaps, and collaborate with the research sector in developing new ideas with commercial potential. Support includes up to $50,000 in matched funding to work on collaborative projects.

Growth Services
Provides businesses who have a growth opportunity with access to experienced growth advisers who will work with them to develop their unique growth plan. Advisers will mentor the business through the implementation of their plan, facilitating access to knowledge and expertise, research, funding and other assistance.

Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program
The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program is a competitive, merit based grant program that supports industry-led and outcome-focused collaborative research partnerships between industry, researchers and the community.

Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Program
The Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Program supports a range of science communication and engagement activities to inspire, motivate and cultivate a scientifically engaged community across Australia.

NSW Government

Women Entrepreneurs Online Network
The NSW Government launched the Women Entrepreneurs Online Network (WON), a platform created by female industry leaders and is a one‐stop‐shop connecting aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with the resources, knowledge and people that can help them create and grow their business through their business journey.

Innovation & Research
TechVouchers: The TechVouchers program provides opportunities for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to collaborate with public sector research organisations. The program provides grants of up to A$15,000 for SMEs to access technical research infrastructure and expertise, such as testing and conducting feasibility studies.

Boosting Business Innovation Program
The program is boosting:
• a networked innovation ecosystem across NSW
• additional external funding
• small to medium enterprises (SMEs) who want to scale up and innovate
• the regional start-up sector and creating innovation clusters across the state
• access to high tech equipment and technical expertise research by SMEs and start-ups through TechVouchers

Youth and Community Building Projects
This is a program, managed by the Youth and Community Building Projects unit in the Department of Family and Community Services, which provides time-limited grants to new projects that enable young people to lead and participate in community development activities.

Training Grants
State Training Services supports the NSW vocational education and training (VET) industry by strategically funding, or contributing to the funding of vocational training, course development and professional development of trainers

Victorian Government

Business Development Plan and Business Strategic Review
The Business Development Plan provides businesses with an opportunity to undertake a comprehensive strategic plan for future growth. The Business Strategic Review helps individual businesses to identify operational goals.

Future Industries
Future Industries is about supporting investment in high-growth industries through industry excellence and development projects, including establishing collaborative networks and building supply chain readiness capabilities.

Grow Your Business
Grow Your Business is a program designed to help small businesses develop and implement strategies to become internationally competitive. A range of planning and management services are offered. Businesses can engage the services of an independent specialist to undertake either one-on-one or group programs.

Public Sector Innovation Fund
The Public Sector Innovation Fund is designed to drive new, more effective solutions to complex policy and service delivery challenges in Victoria. The Innovation Fund is open to applications from any organisation working with or within the Victorian public sector. Projects must involve a state government partner (department, agency or statutory body).

Victorian Defence Industry Supply Chain Program
The Victorian Defence Industry Supply Chain Program (VDISCP) offers up to $50,000 to help Victorian Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) compete for and win more defence and national security related work.

Regional Infrastructure Fund
The Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF) is the main infrastructure program of the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund (RJIF). It aims to harness key regional strengths to improve regional Victoria’s productivity and liveability. It invests in major infrastructure projects that create or enhance the conditions for economic growth, and build diversified and sustainable regional economies that are resilient to change.

Other funding sources

Science and Industry Endowment Fund for ECR placements (CSIRO)
Our SME research facilitators work with businesses and research organisations to establish projects and facilitate financial assistance in the form of a SIEF STEM+ Business grant of up to $105,000 per annum to support projects

Scale (Scale Investors)

TechConnect Funding for SMEs (UNSW)
For small and medium-sized businesses ready to launch their vision on a global scale. An incubator program that supports NSW businesses and startup entrepreneurs. An environment designed for innovators to scale an idea or business through facilitated programs, access to UNSW analytical and experimental facilities and co-working spaces.

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