Accessing funding and support for your business

Identifying and accessing government funding and assistance programs is a challenge for many companies. At Ai Group, we frequently field calls from businesses unsure where or how to start the process of tracking down what support is available.

Given the range of Federal, State and Territory Government programs on offer, some confusion is understandable. But it needn’t be difficult or costly to track this information down. There are a number of freely available and easily searchable sources of information. The Federal Government’s website features a grant finder in addition to a broad range of very pertinent business information. Ai Group’s own website has a link to a free searchable listing of government programs that enables users to easily undertake a tailored search of the programs on offer.

The support and funding on offer takes many forms and can include:

  • Access to expert advice and mentoring from experienced professionals
  • Wage support for certain categories of workers
  • Tax or duty concessions
  • Subsidies for skills development and training
  • Connections to researchers and technology

Of course it is important when considering government funding and support that a business understands how the target program will assist in achievement of its priorities. If substantial change to a project or activity is required in order to fit program criteria, then it is probably not the right fit for the business.

Another consideration is whether the program is a competitive program or can be accessed by any applicant who meets the eligibility criteria. A competitive program will reward only the best applications so it is important to assess up front whether your business has the time and resources to develop an application to the detail required by the funding agency, realising that there is no guarantee of success. Each government program varies in its reporting and substantiation requirements and these should be weighed up against the support on offer.

It can be well worth the time and effort for a business to review how support available from government programs can aid achievement of business objectives.

The Federal Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme offers services tailored to participating businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity, solve a research problem, or find the right commercialisation solution for a novel product, process or service. Case studies on participating businesses attest to the transformational impact that the programme is having.

Allied Grain Systems, which designs, manufactures and installs grain storage and grain handling systems has accessed expert advice and Business Growth Grants worth $20,000 which offset 50 per cent of the costs associated with some key business development projects.

Ai Group’s Business Facilitator worked with Tassie manufacturer of heavy equipment drive-lines for mining and agricultural vehicles, Jayben, which was hit hard by the news that its main customer, Caterpillar, was moving its manufacturing plant to Thailand. Jayben accessed tailored guidance on how it could improve its supply chain relationships, maximise networking opportunities and better communicate its value proposition to potential customers.

The Entrepreneurs’ Programme has assisted a number of companies in Queensland to improve their operations as part of the Volvo Group Australia supply chain.

Karen Sheldon catering, a catering and Indigenous employment business located in Darwin, was helped by the Innovation Connections element of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme to link with researchers at the University of Queensland to investigate how the Kakadu plum could increase the lifespan of its existing pre-order meals.

MedAdvisor, an IT company that has developed a medication management app that links the patient with the pharmacy, was helped to develop systems and processes to help the business scale up its business growth.

Specialist industrial design consultancy, TILT Industrial design, accessed the Entrepreneurs Programme to develop strategies to grow the business.

The Entrepreneurs’ Programme offers tailored advice and assistance to businesses to improve capability, productivity and competitiveness, using independent and skilled Business Advisers with private sector experience. To identify your nearest Ai Group Entrepreneurs’ Programme Business Adviser or Facilitator see our website.

For further details, watch Ai Group’s recent online event: Accessing Funding and Support Programs.

Has your business ever considered investigating available government support programs, but not known where to start? Share your experiences and start a conversation by leaving a comment below.

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Vivienne Filling is Ai Group’s National Manager – Business Advisory Services. She heads up Ai Group’s team of 26 Business Advisers and Facilitators delivering the Australian Government funded Entrepreneurs’ Programme. Vivienne has more than 25 years’ experience in the coordination and delivery of practical services to industry designed to boost productivity and competitiveness.

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