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Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Programme

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In our last post on the 2014 Budget we mentioned the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme and committed to keeping it on our radar. We’re pleased to report that there has been a development. The Department of Industry has released a discussion paper ‘Establishment of the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme’; an outline of the proposal and an opportunity to provide feedback throughout June.

Will the proposed Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme, delivered through a new Single Business Service Initiative, provide the level of support that Australian businesses need? And what are the issues surrounding access?

The $484.2 million Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme is broken into three streams: Business Management, Research Connections, and Commercialising Ideas. The concept behind the three-way split is to acknowledge that different businesses need different types of support ̶ some want information quickly in order to ‘get on with the job’, others are after help but not sure what’s out there and whether it suits their needs, and some need more intensive support to assist them to grow.

While the three streams have been set up to serve different needs, they are all competitive, require matched funding and represent a significantly reduced proportion of the bucket of funding that was offered under the previous schemes. But not all is lost. The funding that is available under the proposed new programme will certainly be a good fit for many Australian companies and there are always benefits to bringing complementary components under the one umbrella.

Business Management
The Business Management stream offers an advisory solution. A business evaluation is conducted by Advisers with senior private sector management experience. Matched funding of up to $20,000 will be available to engage external expertise to implement recommendations from the business evaluation. Other benefits will also be up for grabs such as business capability events featuring industry specialist guest speakers, benchmarking for supply chains such as having your capabilities assessed against tendering requirements, outreach initiatives including remote and regional engagement, and business growth services which may include accessing the Research Connections and Commercialising Ideas components.

Eligibility for the Business Management stream
• Operating for more than three years
• Sufficient turnover levels; and
• Operating in an eligible sector: manufacturing, resources, infrastructure related construction, information technology and communications, creative industries, food processing, medical and pharmaceutical, energy and resource management, professional services, freight transport and logistics.

To be eligible for the growth services component of this stream, businesses will additionally demonstrate willingness to engage with change, growth potential and capacity to benefit from additional services, including commercialisation advice.

Research Connections
The Research Connections stream will be beneficial to companies looking to hook up with a research institution to take an idea to the next level. For example, if you need to run tests on a product you’re developing but don’t have the skills or equipment in-house an introduction to a like-minded university could be just what you need to succeed. Through the Research Connections stream you’ll be able to access matched funding of up to $50,000 to support the cost of bringing a research capability to your business for projects to be conducted over three to twelve months.

Eligibility for the Research Connections stream
• A need for Government funding
• Be able to demonstrate that research will support a project of commercial relevance to the business
• An ability to at least match the Government funding

Commercialising Ideas
The Commercialising Ideas stream comes to the rescue of ‘the underperformers’. The discussion paper acknowledges the position many Australian businesses find themselves in, comparatively that is to their overseas counterparts, in terms of their success rate in bringing products to market, quickly and to a competitive scale. In this stream the expert advisers are back, offering coaching and other skill-building programs such as helping businesses to learn the art of pitching to early stage investors. This is supported by networking opportunities, links to markets and investors through meetings, road shows, events and workshops etc., and generally an increased level of visibility. There is also a clear focus on driving exposure of Australian businesses to multinationals. The Commercialising Ideas stream offers matched funding of up to $250,000 and the activities can be undertaken over a period of two years.

Eligibility for the Commercialising Ideas stream
• A need for Government funding
• A significant market opportunity for the outcomes of the project
• A compelling value proposition for a new product, process or service
• A sound execution plan
• Appropriate management capacity
• Significant national benefits resulting from the project
• An ability to at least match the Government funding

Key dates
1 July 2014 Business Management stream to commence
1 September 2014 Research Connections stream to commence
1 November 2014 Commercialising Ideas stream to commence

The Business Management and Research Connections streams are set to commence on the dates listed above pending completion of the Programme consultation process. All services will be settled by 1 January 2015.

To read the full discussion paper and participate in the consultation process visit the Department of Industry’s Consultation Hub.

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