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The Federal Government opens up to industry for consultation on new Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Program replacing many discontinued programs supporting Australian business. The framework for the new program has been released and a phased introduction commences 1 July 2014.

In the 2014/15 Federal Budget, Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the discontinuation of many separately administered programs supporting business including Commercialisation Australia, Enterprise Connect, Research in Business and Innovation Investment Fund as detailed in our Federal Budget Tax Brief. These were to be replaced with a new program, the Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Program, centralised under one agency, the Department of Industry.  However very little information about the structure of the program was available at the time.

The Federal government has recently announced that it will phase in the commencement of the Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Program, progressively from the 1st July 2014.  Program inclusions are not yet finalised and the government is seeking industry input on this.  You can review the discussion paper. It has been determined that eligibility and merit criteria programs to be offered will include:

  • Business Management
  • Research Connections
  • Commercialising Ideas

Business Management

The business management stream helps CEOs and managers take time out to work on their business, rather than in their business.  This stream, scheduled to commence from 1 July, 2014, will be supported by advisors drawn from the private sector who will encourage businesses to develop explicit plans for improvement and will be able to access limited funding to bring in additional specialists.  The funding offered is on a 50/50 basis and up to $20,000 will be available to engage external expertise to implement projects recommended in the business evaluation.  This stream is comparable to the Enterprise Connect program.  The government has suggested that the eligibility requirements will indicatively be:

  • The business must be operating for more than three years.
  • The business must have sufficient turnover levels (not yet announced).
  • The business must be operating in an eligible sector, which could include:
    • manufacturing;
    • resources;
    • infrastructure-related construction;
    • information technology and communications;
    • creative industries;
    • food processing;
    • medical and pharmaceutical;
    • energy and resource management;
    • professional services; and
    • freight, transport and logistics.

Research Connections

The government has indicated that this program is to assist businesses to understand the value of research and to give advice on how to engage a researcher and access appropriate research advice from institutions. The applicant must match funding up to $50,000 to support the cost of bringing the research capability into the business for projects to be conducted over the next 3-12 months.   This program is intended to be an improved larger scale version of the Research in Business program.  The government proposes to commence the Research Connections program on 1st September 2014.

Commercialising Ideas

The Commercialising Ideas program will include a range of tailored commercialised services, designed to provide entrepreneurs and innovative businesses access to advice, connections and support, to enhance their prospects of commercial success.  The activities to be funded could be undertaken over a period of up to two years and could include:

  • the development of a business or commercialisation plan
  • an intellectual property protection strategy
  • proof of concept work to establish the commercial viability of a new product or service, including prototyping

Matching funding of up to $250,000 is proposed to assist businesses to progress the commercialisation of their new idea.  To access this funding, the project must involve development of a new product, process or service with a compelling value proposition and a significant market opportunity.  This program is intended to improve upon the discontinued Commercialisation Australia program.  The government proposes to commence the Commercialising Ideas Program on 1st November 2014.

Hanrick Curran's business improvement specialists remain abreast of all government grants to ensure our clients receive the available support.  If your business would benefit from one of these new programs, please contact your usual Hanrick Curran adviser or call one of our specialists Matthew Beasley and Angela Winton on 07 3218 3900 for an eligibility assessment consultation.