The Australian Federal Government and the Victorian State Government have established programs to stimulate businesses growth.

Significant funds are available from these Government programs – so we decided to have a look.

Both the Federal and Victorian governments  have identified priority industries that they deem to have high-growth potential and are therefore eligible for support through their respective grant programs.

The lists are similar but different.

Future Industries Fund compared to the Entrepreneurs Program

The value of the support provided is different too.

The Entrepreneurs’ Programme requires that eligible companies undertake a Business Evaluation, which is conducted by an approved Business Advisor.  The company then implements projects to improve the business.  Companies can do these themselves with non-executive guidance from the Business Advisor; or they may obtain help from qualified external specialists, supported by a Business Growth Grant of up to $20,000.

As a grant, this money does not need to be repaid but the Federal Government requires that the funding is matched on a 50:50 basis; with the company obtaining the 50% grant contribution as a refund at the end of the project.

So, for example, two projects chosen could be a Business Strategy Project – to help decide where the future growth of the business should be directed; which is then followed by a Marketing and Sales Project to help the company define and organise itself for how the find and win the new customers.

The company would need to obtain two quotes from capable companies; select one, gain authorisation from Canberra to start; complete the projects; and then claim the 50% from the Federal Government at the end.

This method of working has been around for a good number of years and is familiar to the Business Advisors who have helped companies through the process in the past.  Some businesses leaders may also recognise the programme as a derivative of the very successful Tailored Advisory Services which ran a good number of years ago.

By contrast, the Future Industries Fund from the Victorian State Government is a new initiative.  The six high-growth priority sectors are different to the Federal list, and are based on the needs of the Victorian Government.  The purpose is to help Victorian companies situated in priority sectors to grow, create jobs and ideally generate exports.

The funding is significantly larger than the Federal pot.  Grants of up to $1 million are available on a 1 for 1 basis for companies within the priority sectors, and who have projects that will meet the Fund objectives.  So it appears that eligible projects of up to $2 million would be considered – the company pays half and the Victorian government contributes half of the total project cost.

Companies not on the priority list, it seems can still benefit.  Grants of up to $0.5   million are available on a 1 for 3 basis for those companies.  So it appears that eligible projects of up to $2 million would be considered – the company pays three quarters and the Victorian government contributes one quarter of the total project cost.

At the time of writing, the process to obtain the funds has not yet been published; but we can imagine that it will be an online process of some kind in which the applying company will be required to complete the online.

No doubt the company will also need to provide a business case – which explains to the Victorian Government why the funding is needed, how it will be used, and how Victoria will benefit from making the investment in the company.

“$1 million for projects that align with [high-growth] sector action plans … and general grants of up to $500,000 to companies engaged in manufacturing – recipients do not need to be part of the six high-growth sectors”.

 Is it worthwhile that my company puts in the effort to apply for these grants?

The answer is … maybe.

These activities can be a bit of a distraction to day to day business.  The intent of the government is to help companies move forward.  If you want to operate without the being beholden to the constraints of a government program, then it may not be a good move for your business to apply for this kind of support.

Having said that, being linked into the network has proved useful for many companies who have been able to apply selected advice, guidance and assistance onto challenging and important company projects.  New ideas and new thinking have brought changes in behaviour which in turn have driven great results.

As always, as the business leader – you and your top team are the ones who need to decide if the required effort is worth it.

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