It would be an understatement to say that FY22 was a challenging and uncertain year. As a nation we achieved a lot, while experiencing a range of hardships. The Australian vaccination roll out was completed while the country experienced multiple extreme weather events, and Melbourne endured the longest lock-down in the world. We had earthquakes, protests, and political change.
Despite these challenges, the Grant Thornton Government Grants team worked with industry clients across the country to identify best fit government funding opportunities, achieve high success rates, and generate beneficial results for our clients and the broader economy. We had an 85% success rate on applications that we supported and secured $150 million in funding for our clients.
With the recent federal election, FY23 is set to be a transitional year across the grant funding landscape. As such it could be difficult for you to assess what funding opportunities are available to your business. Read on for our thoughts on what we could expect and how to best prepare your business to unlock government funding.
Industries of Focus
The grants landscape in FY22 was incredibly strong for certain industries as State and Federal governments promoted economic recovery. In FY22 we supported clients across eight priority industries – many of particular importance to State and Federal economic recovery – from Food & Beverage, Agriculture and Automotive to Construction, Energy, Health, Critical Minerals and Resources.
What we expect in FY23
With the new Federal Government, we expect funding focus to remain on many of the same sectors as the previous year. We are already seeing a spotlight on key innovation sectors such as energy (clean and renewable energy, recycling, and decarbonisation of the mining sector), advanced manufacturing, medical technologies, cybersecurity, space and defence.
Bracing for a bumpy period of increasing cost pressures and skill shortages, State and Federal governments look set to continue focus on industries that create jobs, prioritise digitisation and strengthen our sovereign supply chain capabilities while being globally competitive.
In FY22 we secured $150m in funding for our clients, from a mix of Federal and State based grant programs. Some of these included the Recycling Victoria Business Support Fund, the Victorian Business Competitiveness Program, the Queensland Strategic Investment Scheme, the NSW Jobs Plus Grant Program as well as major Federal programs such as the Modern Manufacturing Fund, and the Modern Manufacturing Initiative.
What we expect in FY23
At the Federal level, it is difficult to know in advance what grant programs will be available for industry until the interim Budget is released in October. With current attention on the review of recent manufacturing grant programs, only the most meritorious programs will get funding. It’s likely that major programs will open in the second half of this financial year.
Under the Government’s $15bn National Reconstruction Fund, we’re likely to see major grant programs related to clean energy, medical manufacturing, value adding to resources, advanced manufacturing and agriculture and F&B export development. However, initial communications suggest some of these programs may be loan arrangements or equity schemes rather than a direct cash investment.
Other federal grants that are currently open or anticipated to open include:
- Accelerating Commercialisation grants, for applicants looking to scale up and commercialise a novel product, process or service.
- Defence grants, such as the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grant for SMEs building industrial capabilities.
- Renewable and clean energy programs administered by ARENA, including the Future Fuels Program for businesses seeking to demonstrate and deploy zero-emissions vehicle technologies.
- MTPConnect’s Clinical Translation and Commercialisation Medtech (CTCM) Round 2 – EOI open 9 September and closes 7 October. Funding available of between $250,000 to $1.5 million for the development of medtech devices.
At the state level, grant programs will vary depending on the priority sectors of that state. Many states are expected to release new grant programs in the coming months, while others will soon enter an uncertain grant funding landscape due to looming state elections. State programs to consider include:
- Victoria is expected to open at least one advanced manufacturing grant program in August, before its state election in November.
- Queensland recently released its $142.4m Advance Queensland roadmap, which sets aside $100m over three years for new and existing innovation initiatives, including continuing the Ignite Ideas program for Queensland startups and innovators. Another open opportunity is the Industry Partnership Program, for projects that grow and create jobs in a number of priority industry sectors.
- New South Wales’s recently released state budget outline a number of exciting grant opportunities in clean and renewable energy. Watch out for more in this space. We anticipate at least two or three programs will open before the state election in March 2023.
- Western Australia has committed a further $80m towards its Investment Attraction Fund, which we anticipate a new round will open in the second or third quarter of the financial year.
How to prepare for grant opportunities
Grant programs are often announced without much warning and are typically open for short periods of around four weeks. Without a crystal ball, it can be difficult for a business to respond quickly and effectively to hard-to-come-by funding opportunities.
In FY22, we observed the importance of being ‘grant ready’ and taking a strategic approach to grant funding. We found that clients taking a strategic approach were able to access 28% more funding than the average amount awarded to those who did not.
Our suggestions for FY23:
Take the time to assess your readiness to respond to grants. Invest the time now to elevate your chances of grant funding success, so that government can invest in you.
- Develop your Grant Funding Strategy: Understand how grant funding aligns with your corporate strategy and upcoming project pipeline, and develop a go/no-go decision-making process to enable the strategic pursuit of grant funding with the best chance for success.
- Assess your Grant Readiness and prepare in advance: Assess your information – are you ready to respond to a grant program when it opens? Prepare and maintain a project information/ application text library. Prepare templates to model key project data and outcomes such as project budgets, financial models, and job creation.
- Monitor the Grant Landscape closely: Actively monitor government funding opportunities and shifting policy landscape for future grant program and initiatives. With an overwhelming number of grant programs at both State and Federal level, it can be easy to miss out on the right opportunity.
- Respond to Grant Opportunities as they arise: Once you’ve assessed a grant opportunity is right for you, don’t wait until the last week before the applications are due. Grant applications can involve a lot of time – gathering the right information, cross-checking facts, and developing application text. Review the guidelines thoroughly!
If you are thinking about grant funding this financial year, speak to us today to see how we can support you navigate through this complex funding landscape.