As all start-ups know, having a great idea is important, but it's not enough to ensure your idea gets off the ground – and stays there! The sad reality is that the vast majority of start-ups are destined for failure: for every Facebook, Uber and Airbnb, there are many more whose names you've never heard and whose ideas (great as they might have been) will never see the light of day.
As Thomas Edison said over a century ago, genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration, and the old adage still rings true for start-ups today. So, once you've had that lightbulb moment, how can you take your inspiration and transform it into a viable business enterprise or successful commercial product? A government grant or access to private funding could make all the difference in providing the opportunity for you to commercialise your IP and take your idea to the next level.
In December 2015, the Australian Government launched the National Innovation and Science Agenda, which comprises 24 initiatives worth $1.1 billion over four years. This demonstrates the Government's commitment to promoting innovation in our economy, and supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs who might be sitting on the next great Aussie invention. After all, this is the country that can claim credit for life-changing inventions including the Hills Hoist, the black box flight recorder, plastic banknotes, the bionic ear, Wi-Fi technology and the humble goon bag.
As part of this Agenda and other Government initiatives, there are a wide variety of grants and funding programs available to assist Australian start-ups and businesses who are eager to develop and commercialise their potentially valuable IP. Below are just a handful of the initiatives you may be eligible to take advantage of:
- For entrepreneurs: You may be eligible to qualify for the Entrepreneurs' Programme, through which you can apply for an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant or a Business Growth Grant, and get free expert advice on your venture.
- For research and development entities: You can claim a tax offset against eligible research and development expenditure in your business during the previous tax year.
- For Aussie start-ups making the leap overseas: The Austrade Landing Pad initiative could help you enter the global market, through a 90 day immersion in an innovation hub in Singapore, Berlin, Shanghai, Tel Aviv or San Francisco.
- For deep tech founders: Main Sequence Ventures (which runs the CSIRO's Innovation Fund) invests in companies translating research generated in the publicly funded research sector, to take them global. As well as access to government funding and additional private sector investment, you will also have access to the expert knowledge of CSIRO scientists in a wide range of fields.
- For businesses keen to develop new ideas: Get connected with an expert Innovation Facilitator, who will help you identify new technology, knowledge and expertise to help your business. You can then apply for an Innovation Connections Grant to work with a research organisation to develop new ideas.
- For biomedical businesses: The Biomedical Translation Fund comprises $500 million, half provided by government funding which has been matched by private sector investors, to invest in commercialising promising medical discoveries.
- For exporters: Exporters out of Australia can claim a reimbursement of part of your export promotion expenses.
- For incubators: The Incubator Support Initiative provides support for incubators and accelerators helping start-ups enter global markets.
- For investors: Venture Capital Limited Partnerships offer tax exemptions for those investing at the early stages of a start-up.
Eligibility and suitability for these and other grants and initiatives will depend on your unique situation, and the array of options, each with their own requirements and considerations, can seem daunting, even overwhelming at times.
As part of our new IP Essentials package for start-ups, we can help you navigate these options to determine which ones you might be able to use to advantage. We provide a comprehensive list of available grants and advice on how to access them, including eligibility requirements, application dates and other considerations.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.