Having qualified for the Australian Government’s EMDG grant, your next (and arguably more difficult) step is putting the funds to good use. The export market is notoriously difficult to achieve success in, which is part of the reason why the government is so keen to provide businesses with appropriate levels of support. After all, any company that makes it big on the international stage is seen as a direct reflection of the broader Australian economy. A single success story can open up opportunities for Australian businesses at all levels.
Making the most of the EMDG — or Export Markets Development Grant — scheme requires thorough planning, strong financial knowledge, and an innovative mindset. With these tools under your belt, international, ongoing success is just around the corner.
The EMDG scheme explained
No matter how successful your business is at home, breaking into the international market is a costly exercise. It can take significant upfront investment, with no real promise of a return. For some companies, it's just too great a risk to take.
The EMDG is designed to mitigate some of that uncertainty through upfront funding for marketing and promotional activities. The EMDG grant specifically targets small and medium enterprises that are either looking to break into the overseas market for the first time or need funding in order to capitalise on growing international success.
The scheme is broken up into three separate tiers, each aimed at a different level of promotional activity:
●‘Ready to Export’
●Target market: First time exporters
●Funding: $40,000 per financial year
●Duration: 2 years
●‘Exporting and expanding’
●Target market: Those looking to expand upon existing promotional activities
●Funding: $80,000 per financial year
●Duration: 3 years
●‘Exporting, expanding and strategic shift’
●Target market: Those expanding promotional activities and/or making a strategic shift eg. targeting a new audience
●Funding: $150,000 per financial year
●Duration: 3 years
Eligible businesses can apply for a maximum of three grants over an eight year period. The grants do not have to be used consecutively.
As is the case with all government grants, there are strict eligibility requirements that must be met. These are fairly simple to comprehend but if you have any doubt at all about whether your business qualifies for the scheme, it’s best to speak with a finance professional.
Broadly summarised, eligible businesses are those that:
●Had a turnover of less than $20 million in the previous financial year
●Be an ‘Australian person’ under the definition of the EMDG rules
●Possess an Australian Business Number.
Capitalising on the scheme
Unlike other similar government programs, like the R&D tax offset, the EMDG grant is an upfront payment (at least in part). You are asked to put together an application, which is then assessed by Austrade. Your application will include detailed information regarding your intended promotional activities and how the funding will be spent to assist your business break into the exporting market.
Given the potential benefits offered by this grant, seeking professional assistance to help put together your application is a worthwhile investment. An accountant with experience of the EMDG program can ensure you have the proper documentation to put forward a competitive application. They can also provide advice on how the funds can best be used to ensure success.
Putting together an application takes time. It should not be undertaken as a last minute endeavour. Rather, thorough, long-term planning will ensure you get the most out of your funding. An EMDG consultant is likely to start the process by outlining the types of promotional activities that are covered under the scheme, providing you with the opportunity to consider where your money could be best spent. These activities include:
●Hiring a representative in a foreign country
●Trips to a foreign country
●Hiring a consultant to perform research or promotional activities
●Domestic trips within Australia
●Foreign buyer visits to Australia
●Intellectual property registration
●Creating free samples and promotional material
●Visits to trade fairs and seminars
Of course, convincing Austrade that your activities are worth investing in is only part of the battle. You then have the difficult task of actually breaking into the international market. Choosing to work with a consultant who either has experience helping other businesses in this endeavour or, even better, has offices and representatives in your target market is the best thing you can do.
The EMDG grant is a valuable resource that has assisted countless Australian businesses in their ongoing development. If you believe you could benefit from this type of funding, it’s certainly worth speaking to a qualified EMDG consultant about your plans and export goals.