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The Best Government Grants for Small Businesses and Startups

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Being unable to access the funding necessary to realise ideas, grow and thrive is one of the common frustrations many small businesses and startups encounter.

Big ideas are great, but bringing them to life costs a lot of money. And working on special projects is exciting, but who’s got the time when you have a business to run?

Thankfully, the Australian Government recognises the need to support the smaller players in Australia’s economy.

That’s why at any one time, there are hundreds of grants available, worth billions of dollars. But finding grants, reading all the documentation and guidelines, figuring out if your business is eligible—it all takes a lot of time.

To help you out we’ve curated not one, but 22 of the best government grants for small and medium businesses (SMEs) and startups.

Federal Government grants for startups and small businesses

The Commonwealth Government offers some of the most exciting and impactful funding opportunities for SMEs, from entrepreneurs just beginning their business journey, to established businesses, and startups of all stages.

We’ve summarised the following 8 Federal grants for you.

  • New Business Assistance with NEIS
  • Industry Growth Program
  • CSIRO Kick-Start Grant
  • CSIRO Innovate to Grow Program
  • Workforce Australia Wage Subsidies Program
  • Export Market Development Grant Program
  • Australian Landing Pads Program
  • R&D Tax Incentive Program

New Business Assistance with NEIS

People interested in starting a business, or refocusing an existing micro-business can get a variety of support from the New Business Assistance program.

Support can include training, mentoring, support, and NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) allowances to support the increased viability of their business, or assist in its recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.

Learn more about the New Business Assistance program.

Industry Growth Program

The Australian Government announced a new $392.4 million Industry Growth Program for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups as part of the 2023-24 May Budget.

This new initiative will launch in late 2023. It will provide advice and matched grant funding for SMEs and startups to commercialise their ideas and grow their businesses, as well as professional advice services to assist them commercialise their ideas.

The Industry Growth Program will support early-stage businesses in their most challenging development phase and aims to create a pipeline of quality, investment-ready projects for the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) to consider.

Learn more about the Industry Growth Program.

CSIRO kick-start

Smaller organisations and SMEs can get matched funding between $10,000–$50,000 from this grant supporting research, development and testing of novel products, processes and services.

This grant can include access to the CSIRO’s SME team that can assist with project scoping and introductions to researchers.

Applicants must have an annual turnover and operating expenditure less than $1.5million, in the current and each of the two previous financial years OR have been a registered company for less than three years.

Learn more about the CSIRO kick-start grant.

CSIRO Innovate to Grow

The 12 week program provides tools and information to help sme’s better understand what’s involved with R&D and key things to consider at each step of the process. The aim of the program is to enable applicants to apply this knowledge in your workplace to advance your innovation journey.

The program is delivered through a series of virtual webinars and self-paced learning modules. It is open to any SME participants working on Advanced Manufacturing solutions in the following subsectors: 

  • Digital solutions and Smart robotics
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Advanced materials and processes
  • Quantum technology
  • Mechatronics design and engineering
  • Biomedical manufacturing
  • Energy storage and battery technology

Applicants must have an Australian registered and operating business with an ABN and ACN (sole traders and partnerships are not eligible).

Learn more about the CSIRO Innovate to Grow program.

Workforce Australia Wage Subsidies

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment offers this incentive to employers with the goal of increasing the diversity and employability of Australian workers.

Eligible businesses can get subsidies up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) when they hire eligible job seekers for ongoing roles of more than 20 hours per week. This includes people who are:

  • 15 to 29 years of age,
  • Indigenous Australians,
  • 50 years of age and over,
  • a parent, or
  • registered with an employment services provider for 12 months or more.

This grant will be administered by an employment service provider, who must be engaged to determine eligibility and negotiate the details of the wage subsidy payment schedule.

Learn more about the Workforce Australia Wage Subsidies.

Export Market Development Grant (EMDG)

Grants up to $50,000 for SMEs to promote their goods and services and develop their skills for growing and diversifying their exports in international markets.

Grants are available in 3 tiers, designed to provide different levels of support during different stages of your export journey.

Grants provide targeted assistance to support Australian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) start or expand their export business by funding promotional activities and the developments skills of SMEs and their representative organisations.

Learn more about the Export Market Development Grant program.

Australian Landing Pad

This program is for Australian technology companies seeking help to establish into new export markets . Participants receive support to validate market entry plans and make connections as you scale into global markets.

The Landing Pads are located in San Francisco, New York, Bengaluru, Shanghai, Singapore, London and Tel Aviv.

Learn more about Austrade’s Landing Pads.

R&D Tax Incentive

The R&D Tax Incentive (R&DTI) helps organisations to perform eligible research and development activities which they may otherwise not, often for reasons such as risk or uncertainty of a financial return.

If your business creates new knowledge or performs innovative R&D improving its products and services, then it might be eligible for the R&D Tax Incentive.

Learn more about the R&D Tax Incentive program.

Check out the Federal Government’s Grants and Programs Finder

State government grants for startups and small businesses

We’ve summarised 14 of the best state government grants for small to medium (sme) and startup businesses, across a variety of states and industry sectors below – choose from the list or scroll down for the summary details one by one.

Queensland

  • Made In Queensland
  • Ignite Ideas Fund

South Australia

  • Global Expansion Program
  • First Nations Export Mentoring Program
  • Agribusiness Growth Program
  • Seed-Start Program

Western Australia

  • Agrifood and Beverage Voucher
  • Access Asia Business Grants Program

Victoria

  • Digital Jobs Business Host Program
  • Digital Jobs For Manufacturing Program
  • Small-Scale and Craft Program
  • Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund
  • Business Competitiveness Program

New South Wales

  • MVP Ventures Program

Made in Queensland (Queensland)

This grant is of interest to smaller manufacturers located in Queensland. Your business must employ between 5–200 FTE employees to be eligible for a grant of between $50,000 and $2.5 million. Now in its fifth year of operation, this grant supports Queensland’s 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan.

Grants in the most recently closed Round 4 were provided as cash on a dollar-for-dollar basis, and support increased productivity and international competitiveness, adoption of innovative processes, and creation of high-skilled manufacturing jobs.

Learn more about the Made In Queensland grant program.

Ignite Ideas Fund (Queensland)

Queensland’s Ignite Ideas Fund supports businesses with high growth potential as they undertake projects to further commercialise innovative products and services. Small-to-medium businesses (less than 50 FTE employees) may be eligible for funding, which is available in two tiers.

  1. Tier 1 provides funding up to $100,000 (excl. GST) for projects up to 12 months’ duration
  2. Tier 2 funding is between $100,000–$200,000 and is for projects up to 24 months’ duration

Learn more about the Ignite Ideas Fund.

Global Expansion Program (South Australia)

The Global Expansion Program supports export-ready South Australian businesses in growing their capacities and capabilities through grants of up to $50,000.

This grant does not require co-contributions, instead it is provided to organisations who are actively investing in their export expansion capabilities. The program is to be delivered over four years to 30 June 2024.

Organisations must operate in one of the following priority sectors as defined by the SA government:

  • Creative industries
  • Defence industries
  • Energy and mining
  • Food, wine and agribusiness
  • Health and medical industries
  • Hi-tech
  • International education
  • Space industries
  • Tourism

Learn more about the Global Expansion Program.

First Nations Export Mentoring (South Australia)

The First Nations Export Mentoring program connects Aboriginal businesses with experienced Department for Trade and Investment (DTI) mentors providing a series of one-on-one sessions for up to 12 months.

The objective is to help First Nations businesses grow through export or investment. Applicants can be at any stage of their export journey. The mentoring sessions provide tailored advice to the individual needs of the business on how to overcome short-term challenges or to achieve specific goals.

Learn more about the First Nations Export Mentoring program.

Agribusiness Growth Program (South Australia)

Food and beverage manufacturers in South Australia can build a more sustainable, growth-ready business with funding from the Business Growth Program.

The program provides tailored coaching and assistance to develop skills and capabilities across product assessment, financial management, and market development.

Applicants need to be able to demonstrate evidence of pre-existing plans, be a South Australian registered food or beverage manufacturer, or agricultural value-adding business, and be willing to work collaboratively with Food South Australia.

Learn more about the Business Growth Program.

Seed-Start Program (South Australia)    

South Australian early-stage start-ups and innovators with high growth potential can express their interest in accessing grant funding to commercialise an innovative product or service.

Those seeking funding must ensure their product or service offering is unique, with good potential for an ongoing competitive advantage either domestically or internationally.

Two types of funding are available, depending on the development stage of your business:

  • Seed grants of between $50,000–$100,000 are available on a $2 government : $1 applicant basis for a maximum period of two years
  • Start grants of between $100,001–$500,000 are available on a $1 government : $1 applicant basis for a maximum period of three years.

Learn more about the Seed-Start Grant program.

GrantHelper Pro Tip
Some other good resources for South Australian sme’s and startup are Connectplus and Export from SA and the South Australia Food and Beverage Export Hub.

Agrifood and Beverage Voucher Program (Western Australia)

WA-based food and beverage manufacturers and processing businesses may be eligible for a voucher of up to $15,000 to engage a consultant to assist with growing their business.

Consultants can be engaged across five different categories of expertise:

  • Business planning
  • Manufacturing for business growth
  • Sales and marketing
  • Financial health
  • Environmental sustainability and social responsibility

Learn more about the Agrifood and Beverage Voucher Program.

Asia Access Business Grants Program (Western Australia)

Grants up to $27,500 to support Western Australia’s SMEs and organisations advance their export and trade activities in Asian markets and increase WA’s economic diversity.

Grants will support WA’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and organisations to advance their export and trade activities and build their competitiveness in new Asian markets, particularly China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.

Learn more about the Asia Access Business Grants Program.

Digital Jobs Business Host (Victoria)

Businesses receive a $5,000 wage subsidy for each 12-week work placement or entry level job offered to a program participant and have the option to retain the participant as an ongoing employee.

Hosting a Digital Jobs program participant is a great way to fast-track recruitment for digital roles and increase diversity in your digital team.

Learn more about the Digital Jobs Business Host program.

Digital Jobs For Manufacturing (Victoria)

The Digital Jobs for Manufacturing Program offers grants of up to $5000 to assist Victorian manufacturing businesses adapt to a digital operating environment.

The Digital Jobs for Manufacturing Program provides funding to enrol a nominated employee in a 12-week online, part-time industry endorsed digital skills course.

Learn more about the Digital Jobs For Manufacturing program.

Small-Scale and Craft Program (Victoria)

Victoria’s artisanal food producers and smaller businesses in the craft agribusiness space may be eligible to access funding of between $25,000 to $100,000. Organisations will need to provide a co-contribution of a minimum 25% of the total cost of their project.

Projects should support the primary objective of creating cohesive visitor experiences that showcase and support Victoria’s artisanal producers.

Learn more about the Small-Scale and Craft Program.

Regional Jobs & Infrastructure Fund (Victoria)

The long-running Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund supports regional Victoria’s prosperity and economic growth through a set of grant streams covering jobs, infrastructure, and development of investment-ready projects.

  • The Regional Jobs Fund provides funding to organisations that are expanding their operations in Victoria. Most funding under this grant is not disclosed (being classified as Commercial or Cabinet in Confidence), though project funding up to and exceeding $1 million has previously been disclosed.
  • The Regional Infrastructure Fund supports and protects rural Victoria’s economy through the creation and retention of jobs, increased access and usability of rural towns and centres, and investment in public-enabling infrastructure. Cities, large rural councils, and small councils and collective organisations of various kinds may be eligible for funding between $20,000–$3 million.

Learn more about the Regional Jobs & Infrastructure Fund.

Business Competitiveness Program (Victoria)

Victoria’s Business Competitiveness Program helps emerging and established manufacturers to strengthen supply chains, create jobs, and increase their overall competitiveness.

Funding between $50,000–$500,000 is available to eligible manufacturing businesses on a ratio of $2 applicant : $1 VIC Government. The maximum funding is 33% of all eligible project costs.

Applicants need to employ at least 20 FTE employees, or have a turnover greater than $1.5 million.

Learn more about the Business Competitiveness program.

MVP Ventures Grants (New South Wales)

Early stage (pre-revenue) tech start-ups in New South Wales may be eligible for funding up to $250,000, to develop scalable products and services, and validate their MVP.

Organisations must hold the necessary IP, or rights to commercialise, and be able to demonstrate the 80% of development costs will be incurred in NSW, among other eligibility criteria.

Learn more about the the MVP Ventures grant program.

How do you know when your are grant ready?

We have outlined 8 key activities for developing grant readiness here. If you’ve read through the readiness activities and can confidently say you have them all in hand, congratulations, you are likely in a strong position to apply for a grant. And if you’re still unsure, you shouldn’t feel discouraged — some uncertainty is natural and it is very rare to feel 100% confident with grant applications — even if your preparation has been outstanding, it’s a competition with an uncertain outcome.

Want to check your grant readiness?

Use our free Grant Readiness Quiz

This carefully crafted questionnaire lets you self-asses your organisation’s suitability for a grant and better understand what it means to be grant-ready — this could save you hours of wasted time on unsuitable applications. Try it now and ensure you are abreast of all the critical details and activities you’ll need to coordinate, plan for, and gather as part of creating a successful grant submission.

Take the GrantHelper Grant Readiness Quiz – it’s FREE!

Resources and help to get a grant

There are many more grants available—check out our finding grants article if you want to get better at discovering grants.

Our Insights showcase some of the grant-winning methods we employ at GrantHelper, and they will help you create a stronger grant application. But no matter how well prepared you are, winning grants takes time—something we know many business owners and directors just don’t have. And that’s why we’re here to help.

GrantHelper can assist with your organisation’s next grant application, no matter what stage of the funding journey you’re at.

I need help applying for grants

Check out our How to Prepare Before You Apply insight to help you reduce the stress levels when you apply for a grant.

Check out our How to write a successful grant application to learn some time-saving tips to make the grant writing process easier.

Our in-depth eBook is the single most valuable resource you will find that helps organisations to truly understand how to win government grants.

A person holding a tablet device displaying the GrantHelper Guide to Winning Grants eBook on its screen.

Download our eBook to discover grant-winning secrets

Our free eBook features 10 chapters of expert advice, professional tips and more to help you do better with grants, whether you’re new to the process or you’ve applied before.

Get your copy of the Guide to Winning Grants now.

Is your business eligible for this government grant? Or perhaps you’re not sure and want to know more?

GrantHelper offers a range of government grant services, helping businesses of all sizes to discover, apply for, and win the best grant opportunities. We can help you with anything from finding the right grants, to writing your application, formulating an ongoing grant strategy, and more.

Get started now by filling in the form below, or tap the ‘Book a Discovery Call’ button to schedule a no-obligation virtual meeting with an experienced government grants consultant.

Check out some of the clients we’ve helped and what they had to say about us.

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Hi, I’m Steve Dowling – founder of GrantHelper. I’m a former champion of marketing and export business development turned business builder.

I do a lot of thinking and reading around grants, strategy, and funding. I send a monthly newsletter with what’s on my mind on this stuff.

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