Quick guide to R&D funding in Australia

5 min read
Claudia Bouma

Are you a science or tech entrepreneur looking for R&D funding in Australia? You may have struggled to find research and development support, as it can be difficult to access these types of financial resources in our own backyard.

But there’s good news.

Our nation has put innovation and technology squarely on the national agenda through the Global Innovation Strategy. Initiatives to make R&D funding more easily accessible are on the rise, creating exciting new opportunities for researchers and small business owners in the science or tech space.

4 sources of R&D support

So, what options are available for Australian small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs? Where do you start and where do you access more detailed information? Read on.

  1. Global Connections Fund.
  2. Landing Pads.
  3. Regional Collaborations Programme.
  4. R&D Tax Incentive.

The Australian Government has prioritised funding on a number of levels, with a specific focus to encourage international collaboration in innovation and science. Below we discuss four funding programs.

1. Global Connections Fund

The Australian Government has established the Global Connections Fund, a $4.9 million program aimed at helping small to medium enterprises start collaborations with international researchers.

Breakthroughs funded by the GCF includes a device for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease and renewable fertiliser.

R&D Scientist Holding a Fluorescent VialThe fund consists of two types of grants, which are administered by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering on behalf of the Australian Government:

  • $7,000 Priming Grants to facilitate meetings between international researchers and the businesses that can help commercialize their ideas
  • Bridging Grants of up to $50,000 intended to help scale viable projects and allow commercial testing

Check the Global Connections Fund website to see when the next round of grants will be called.

2. Landing Pads

This government program is designed especially for startups and provides them with a 90-day landing pad or coworking space in one of the following innovation hotspots:

  • Tel Aviv
  • Singapore
  • Shanghai
  • Berlin
  • San Francisco

Each of these locations has a reputation for innovation and startup success. Since networking is a huge part of early traction, placing Australian startups in these spots increases their chances of connecting with global power brokers.

Successful applicants receive:

  • A 90-day residency in a coworking space, plus introductions to investors, mentors and potential partners
  • Business services and in-market learnings from local and international experts
  • Professional assistance from an Austrade Landing Pad Manager with proven experience in scaling startups and branching out into international markets.

Visit the Landing Pads website for application deadlines and details.

3. Regional Collaborations Programme

R&D Person Building Computer
This program aims to tackle regionals issues through science and tech partnerships.

This $3.2 million initiative focuses on promoting and building beneficial connections in the Asia-Pacific region. Managed by the Australian Academy of Science on behalf of the Australian Government, this program provides funds for collaborations in the areas of science, research and innovation to tackle regional challenges.

Past projects funded by the programme range from agricultural and environmental sciences, transport and construction to health, manufacturing and material sciences.

4. Research and Development Tax Incentive

The R&D Tax Incentive is a company tax benefit designed to cover a portion of the expenses of conducting eligible research and development activities.

The R&D Tax Incentive reduces a company's income tax liability.

The application process requires registration with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, while the R&D Tax Incentive is jointly managed with the Australian Taxation Office. Accurate recordkeeping is essential to prove eligibility.

A fully self-assessed initiative, businesses carry the responsibility to determine whether they are eligible for this particular tax incentive.

Check the Australian government’s grants information system to learn about other sources of research funding.

A word about the Global Innovation Strategy

Put simply, this government strategy seeks to place Australia centre stage in the areas of international innovation and science. Australia has already played a significant role in world-leading research, enriching the international community with some of the globe’s best innovations.

International collaboration plays a leading role in the Global Innovation Strategy, as it supports the development and transfer of research and knowledge. New and existing links with leading world economies are essential to improved research and business performance.

R&D Batch of Metal Parts

Poised for success

Australia is well positioned as a result of its geographical proximity to Asia, unquestionably the world’s fastest-growing region. Long trading experience with Asian nations places our country in a favourable situation to continue strengthening its economy through innovation and technology.

Partnerships with international researchers can result in:

  • Access to professional input and groundbreaking technology
  • Development of breakthrough ideas, products and cures
  • Opportunities to work with highly skilled researchers
  • Lower costs across the entire product cycle
  • Recognition in new markets

Thanks to the support provided by the Global Innovation Strategy, the potential for Australian researchers and startups in science and tech is virtually unlimited.

R&D funding summary

Although small business owners and entrepreneurs in the science and tech space have struggled to find R&D funding in Australia, that trend is set to change. The Australian Government has developed the Global Innovation Strategy to put innovation and technology in the limelight.

Much is to be gained by accessing R&D funding, as it opens up new opportunities to work with highly skilled researchers from around the world and commercialize cutting-edge ideas, products and services.

The information contained in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an endorsement or advice from GoDaddy on any subject matter.