Business grants and awards can be a great booster for innovative companies with R&D programs. When you’re running a start-up or scale-up, more often than not, money is tight. So, costly marketing campaigns are out of the question. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. There are government grants aplenty to choose from — both federal and state or territory-based. These and other incentives can help you take your business forward faster. Then there are business awards. Some accolades come with cash prizes or other in-kind benefits. But they all invariably provide you with the opportunity to raise your company’s profile with investors, consumers and other stakeholders. With a new year just beginning, we’ve pulled together our top picks of the grants, incentives and awards that could help your innovation business get on the front foot in 2023.
Business grants and incentives
There’s no shortage of grants or incentives designed to give start-ups and scale-ups a leg up. Here are our top five for Australian innovators. These are available across a wide range of sectors, wherever your business is in Australia, and are open to applications at any time.
1. The Federal Government R&D Tax Incentive (R&DTI)
The Federal Government’s R&D Tax Incentive refund (R&DTI) tops our list for a whole bunch of reasons. Yes, our Radium Advance gives innovators early access to their expected R&DTI refund, cutting the wait time for this capital from 12-18 months to just a few business days. But what makes this incentive special is its impact and flexibility. The R&DTI refund will reimburse your business with up to 43.5 cents for every dollar you spend on eligible R&D. So it can be an invaluable source of capital from most, if not all, of your start-up and scale-up journey until your aggregated annual turnover edges past $20 million. At that point, you’ll no longer qualify for the R&DTI refund or Radium Advances to access it early. But you might be eligible for the R&D tax offset instead.
The amount of offset you can receive hinges on the company tax rate you pay and your R&D intensity. Your R&D intensity is your R&D spend as a percentage of your venture’s total annual expenses. Companies that have an R&D intensity of 0-2% have an intensity premium of 8.5 percentage points above their company tax rate. Those that have an R&D intensity metric of 2% or more have an intensity premium of 16.5 percentage points over the rate of company tax they pay. For example, if your company has an aggregated annual turnover of $30 million and an R&D intensity rate under 2 %, your company tax rate will be 25% and your intensity premium 8.5%. So your R&D tax offset on your R&D investment will work out at 33.5%.
Interested to learn more about R&DTI eligibility? Read our article, Company v. research project: are you eligible for the RDTI?
2. The Federal Government Accelerating Commercialisation programme
Is it time for your innovation to move into the fast lane? The Federal Government Accelerating Commercialisation program could be just the ticket. Part of the Federal Government Entrepreneurs’ Programme, Accelerating Commercialisation helps small and medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers get their novel products, processes or services to market. Configured into two key stages, Accelerating Commercialisation first connects you with an expert facilitator who will develop recommendations and a commercialisation plan for your business. After you’ve completed the guidance stage, you can apply for an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant of up to $1 million in matched funding for your innovation project. For all the details and how to apply, head here.
3. Innovation Connections
Innovation Connections is another service delivered through the Federal Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme. It’s designed for early-stage start-ups and provides both advice and financial assistance to get their innovative R&D projects off the ground. During the advisory phase of Innovation Connections, you’ll be paired with an independent facilitator. Their job is to connect you with research institutions, help you apply for grant funding to pay for your researchers and make recommendations that you can apply to your research project. Next up is the grant stage. During this phase you can apply for up to three separate grants to action your facilitator’s recommendations and get your project moving. The grants can fund up to 50% of your researcher costs. Find out more about the program here.
4. Growth Services
Growth Services also falls under the umbrella of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme. It’s a collection of three different Federal Government programmes and services: Growth Roadmap, High Growth Accelerator, SMART Projects and Supply Chains. And just like the Accelerating Commercialisation and Innovation Connections programs, Growth Services and its three components are structured into the two key stages of facilitator advice and grant funding. As part of the grant funding stage, you can apply for a Growth Grant to apply the suggestions you received during the facilitation stage. Grants from $2,500 to $20,000 are available to provide matched funding of up to 50% of the costs associated with rolling out the actions from the facilitation stage. Growth Services are an attractive option if your business is looking to grow and increase its competitiveness in global markets. To view the eligibility criteria, head here.
5. CSIRO Kick-Start
CSIRO Kick-Start offers small to medium enterprises and start-ups matched funding of $10,000-$50,000, plus the opportunity to tap into CSIRO’s research expertise to grow your business. You can leverage this programme if you’re looking to research a new idea with commercial potential, develop a cutting-edge or improved product or process, or test an innovative product or material. Your business can use the matched grant funding available from Kick-Start for your R&D project-related costs such as researcher salaries, administration and overheads, as well as travel and accommodation if it’s required. For further information head here.
State-based and sector-specific grants and incentives
There is also a plethora of sector-based and state and territory-level grants or incentives that could be a great fit for your venture. So don’t overlook them. Take the Minimum Viable Product grant in New South Wales for example. It offers matched funding of between $25,000 to $200,000 for the state’s pre-revenue tech start-ups. AusIndustry has a grant and program finder tool which can help you identify suitable grants, incentives and programs in a matter of minutes. When we last checked there were an impressive 572 grants and incentives on the table. Head here to access this handy tool. You can search by location, industry, support type and business stage among other filters. Grants, funding and support programs open and close across the year. So it pays to check regularly and make a note of relevant closing dates.
Applying for and placing as a finalist or even winning a prestigious award can be an efficient way to garner some media coverage for your business and raise your profile with potential customers and investors. Here are the business awards we think are the most rewarding in a holistic sense for innovation businesses.
1. The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Awards
Arguably one of the most prestigious awards programmes in Australia, Deloitte’s Tech Fast 50 recognises the nation’s forward-thinking and innovative technology businesses. If you’re seeking top-flight recognition for your business, then the Fast 50 could be for you. Now in its 23rd year in Australia, the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranks fast-growing technology companies, public or private, based on their percentage revenue growth over three years. There are different categories you can nominate your business for each year. Radium Capital client, Monarc Global, made history when it became the first company ever to win two Fast 50 honours. It took out the top accolade of Australia’s fastest-growing tech firm in 2021, and the award for female leadership for Monarc’s co-founder, Monica Zagrodny. Could your business be a winner waiting in the wings? Nominations usually close in September each year. Find out more about Deloitte’s Tech Fast 50 here.
2. InnovationAus Awards
If you’re seeking additional opportunities to network in the Australian innovation ecosystem, the annual InnovationAus Awards for Excellence could be a great choice. With awards up for grabs across 13 different categories which include software innovation, energy and renewables, and food and agritech to name just three, the assessment criteria focus heavily on translational research. The judging panel looks for applications with commercial success, translation of intellectual property and impact, as well as, non-R&D innovations and applied technologies. Entries for the InnovationAus Awards usually close in June each year. Learn more about the InnovationAus Awards here.
3. Smart50 Awards
The brainchild of SmartCompany, the Smart50 Awards began in 2007 and provide national recognition for Australia’s fastest-growing businesses. With awards offered across nine separate categories, the Smart50 Innovator Award and Rising Star Award for high-growth start-ups could be worth exploring for your business in 2023. Nominations usually close in October each year. For more information about the Smart50 Awards head here.
Sector-specific and state and territory awards
There are a host of other awards that are national, for example, the AFR BOSS Innovative Companies; or sector or industry-specific ones such as the Finnie Awards. Then there are a whole bunch of state or territory-based gongs you could go after in your own backyard, for example, the Pinnacle Awards in Western Australia or the Melbourne Business Network Awards. The key takeaway is that if you do decide to throw your hat in the ring for some business awards this year, be strategic. Choose awards that align with your business vision and that will elevate your brand among the audiences you want and need to reach.
See your business benefit in 2023
Business grants and awards, as well as other prizes and incentives, can be a great way to get money through the door. And they often provide attractive public relations opportunities for your burgeoning venture. In a nutshell, grants and awards can be a great avenue to explore for any business. If your company is low on budget and high on enthusiasm, the cost-benefit can be particularly appealing. That said, applying for grants and awards can take time and effort, so you’ll need to divert some of your business-as-usual resources to the task. And in many instances, especially for business awards, there is no guarantee of success.
For that reason, depending on the cost, you could consider engaging a specialist to help you apply for grants or awards that are more complex. When it comes to quick wins, applying for a Radium Advance should definitely be high on your list. The eligibility criterion is simple: if you’re eligible for the R&DTI refund you’re eligible to apply for a Radium Advance. Once you have your documentation together, our expert team can help you complete your application in just 15 minutes. So why not contact them today and get started?