April deadlines loom for government grants in SME research and innovation

Two lucrative government incentives for innovative SMEs conducting research are about to hit deadline. Here’s what you need to know to get in at the eleventh hour.

Government funding is a great way to get your hands on some cash without having to give away equity – and if you’re a startup founder or SME owner, you’ll know how valuable that kind of cash can be.

READ: Key government grants for startups in Australia

While there are more than 300 government grants and incentives available to Australian organisations, there are two particularly lucrative opportunities that have a looming deadline: the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII), and the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive.

Since the deadline for the BRII is only five days away, let’s start with that one:


Business Research and Innovation Initiative


While most government grants are designed to assist businesses with (somewhat) of an altruistic flavour, this grant is a little different.

Essentially, the government is turning to the tech community to ask for assistance in some areas that could use a technological approach. The aim is that this will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of those areas.

The first stage of this initiative was the selection of the key areas that the government needs assistance with, and at the completion of the selection process, the Minister of Industry, Science and Technology confirmed the following five areas.

1. Fast and secure digital identity verification for people experiencing family and domestic violence

The government offers victims of domestic and family violence with emotional and financial support, but often have a hard time retrieving the victims’ information, due to lack of access that these individuals have to their personal belongings and financial information.

Therefore, the government are looking for assistance from startups who work with biometrics, identification and reg-tech who are able to come up with an innovative solution that will improve their existing identification processes.

2. Intelligent data to transform tourism service delivery

The tourism services industry is a really important part of any economy, and Australia is no different – and while we do attract many thousands of tourists to our shores every year, innovative approaches need to be taken in order to keep those numbers up.

This being the case, the government are looking for intelligent and accurate data that can help them identify what works and what doesn’t work for our tourism industry. This will give them a good indication of what measures need to be taken in order to improve tourism in Australia.

3. Uplifting government capability to help deliver world-leading digital services

The government want to make their information, methodologies and systems extremely easy to use, and are looking for assistance in creating a digital ‘learning platform’ through which they can teach people how to use their services in a high quality and innovative manner.

4. Managing the biosecurity of hitchhiking pests and contaminants on shipping containers

Australia has thousands of shipping containers docking at its ports every day, many of them arriving from all sorts of exotic countries and carrying valuable stock.

Unfortunately, the idea of unwanted pests and contaminants joining this stock for the journey is not so uncommon, and the ability to control these pests has become a significant pain point for the Australian government – so they’re looking for help in the form of a technological solution that can replace physical inspections, which have proven to be far too labour intensive and unsustainable.

5. Automating complex determinations for Australian Government information

The government is sitting on endless amounts of data and are looking for a ‘data distiller’ solution that can sift through all the information that is being recorded and separate the wheat from the chuff of government data.

Here’s what you need to do

If you believe that your business can develop a solution that strongly matches against the criteria of what the government is looking for, have the knowledge, expertise and financial resources to conduct the project, and can prove that there is a future commercial opportunity for your proposed solution, this grant might very well be suitable for your business.

To kick the project off, the government are offering $100,000 for eligible businesses to run a feasibility study on their proposed solution. Applications for this funding close on 17 April 2019.

Assuming the business successfully completes its feasibility study, it will then be invited to apply for a grant of up to $1 million in order to prove the concept of their solution.


The R&D Tax Incentive


The second deadline that is looming is for businesses who are yet to submit their AusIndustry applications for the R&D Tax Incentive for eligible activities conducted in financial year 2017-18.

READ: Thinking of getting your R&D claim in?

The government offer a 43.5 percent tax offset to SMEs (those below $20 million in annual revenue) on the costs associated with experimental and innovative activities – and if the SME is running at a loss, the tax offset is refundable, meaning that it can be paid out as cash.

In order to receive this tax offset, businesses need to register their activities with AusIndustry before 30 April 2019. The application process is quite involved, so if you want to get your claim in, you’d need to get started on this one as quickly as you can.

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