9th March, 2018
Applying for a competitive government grant is, well, competitive, but there are ways to maximise your chance of success.
Every week, I receive emails from SME owners and startup founders asking if I know of any government grants that they should be applying for.
Although the answer is often an enthusiastic ‘yes!’, I do warn that a lot of grants out there are competitive. That means there’s no guarantee that their company will be granted the money.
Whether it’s the Queensland government’s Ignite Ideas Fund, the South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund or even the more federal, industry-agnostic grants like the Accelerating Commercialisation grant, SME owners are often sceptical about taking on competitive grants, simply because they’re afraid to risk resources and receive nothing in return.
I have found that if certain guidelines are followed, the chances of success can be increased. If the business follows three rules in tailoring their offering, they are more likely to be successful in winning competitive grants.
Firstly, and most importantly, your offering needs to be genuinely innovative.
The innovation space can sometimes be a double-edged sword. On one hand, we live in an era in which technology solutions evolve at a rapid pace, solving some of the world’s biggest issues in the process.
On the other hand – as a result of this rapid progression – it’s becoming more and more difficult to create something genuinely innovative.
The moment you identify a new solution to a common problem, you quickly learn that (more often than not) someone has already brought the concept to market.
Genuine innovation in today’s day and age is about finding an angle to solve a particular issue that no one else has found.
Whether the innovation manifests in the model of efficiency, scalability or technological development (always a good one!), as long as there is genuine innovation, the government is more likely to take notice of these grant applications.
Following on from the above, there are five industries that, due to their innovative nature, the Australian government is particularly interested in funding.
A good way to catch the government’s attention would be to involve as many of these industries as possible within the scope of your offering.
On the flipside, the market is saturated with concepts in social media, fintech, data analytics and IoT. While the product might be extremely innovative, the over-saturation of the startup market in these areas has made the government more reluctant to fund them.
That said, the above isn’t set in stone and I have seen select businesses receive competitive grants even without putting a focus on the five aforementioned industries. But it’s always best to cover all your bases.
Finally, if you’d like to have a decent chance of receiving a competitive grant, make sure all your paperwork is in order.
Documents like business plans, roadmaps, proper bookkeeping and all other similar files should be attached as appendices to your application.
If the government is going invest money into your business, they’ll want to see order, transparency and accountability within your business.
With all the above in mind, remember that some risks remain. While the success of grant applications often comes down to timing, quality of application, and sometimes even a drop of luck, following these three guidelines will increase your chances of standing out of the crowd and potentially be awarded a competitive grant.