What's the truth behind grants? Why are they there? Can I really get one? These are the questions we hear all the time from small business owners when they start investigating grants. So let's debunk some common myths and get to the bottom of things.
What are they?
Government grants and incentives are programs being delivered on the ground by federal agencies and state bodies. This means that grants are designed to achieve something for the organisation which is offering them. They might be handing out free money, but there's often a very specific goal which this is facilitating.
The next thing you need to understand is that not all grants are grants! Some 'grants' are tax-offsets for a company, like in the case of the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive.
Others like the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) offer reimbursement for marketing expenses which your business has incurred, but this particular grant contains aged legislation, is very complicated and is unsuitable for most start-ups.
The Accelerating Commercialisation does offer an actual cash incentive by matching your spend dollar for dollar. Beware, this grant is prohibitively slow to make a turn-around and often leaves start-up business applicants back where they started if they don't meet the requirements.
Why are they there?
Grants are a way which enables an organisation to achieve something by offering an incentive. Maybe the federal government wants to advance Australia's technological growth and create state-of-the-art assets. They could use their existing agencies to provide this, however they cost a great deal of money to fund and are often tied up by red tape. So instead they offer tax breaks for innovative companies which might have some great ideas, but don't have the resources to really get them off the ground. Give it a few years, and maybe that company is making enough money which the government can tax and inject back into society.
The big thing to note with grants is that they often aren't about you, or your business. They are bigger than that, and if you don't fit the criteria for a grant it isn't personal, it's just that whatever it is you are doing doesn't quite align with the goals of that particular grant. Once you accept this fact you'll be living with a lot less stress, and can really free yourself in any application you write.
How can I get one?
So you know what a grant is, why they're there, and now you want one! The first thing you'll see when you start a government grant application is the mountains of text which are guidelines for these programs. These exist to narrow down the selection criteria for every applicant in every contingency, until only the ideal candidates are left.
It can be really hard trying to decipher bureaucratic government jargon and the language which many agencies use in advertising their grants are notorious for making it seem like anyone can get them! In reality, grants chew up way more time and money, then they are worth if it turns out you aren't eligible.
If you do have loads of time, by all means start wading through the terms and conditions of any grant you can find and think you might be eligible for. If, however, you don't exactly feel like fumbling in the dark then there are plenty of tools and resources available to help you.
What we highly recommend is getting an expert to lend a hand. For instance, here at IGNITE Innovation we have a team of veteran grant-getters with decades of experience working within the government and an incredible wealth of knowledge of all things grant. They can help look at your current situation and see what you'd be a good fit for, and then help you write, submit and claim your grant. How good is that!
If you were interested in talking with us further about other grants, how about leaving us a message so we can discuss your options to help out your business? The team will help you determine if you're able to receive either an R&D or EMDG grant.