Friday, 28 February 2014

Tax Incentives for your Research and Development

Is your business innovating and experimenting? It could mean that you are eligible to claim the R&D Tax Incentive.

Administered jointly by AusIndustry and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the R&D Tax incentive aims to encourage companies to engage in R&D, in turn boosting competitiveness and improving productivity across the Australian economy.

If your business is eligible, the R&D Tax Incentive can be used to offset expenses incurred on R&D activities, the decline in value of depreciating assets used in R&D activities and more. Find out more about the eligible deductions External Link - opens in new window.

Canberra business, eWAY is just one example of a local business taking advantage of the program. The business has been accessing the incentive for a number of years now with eWAY CEO and founder, Matt Bullock saying the benefits the program have given them have been invaluable.

“Our global operations centre runs out of Canberra, which also houses the R&D team. Without R&D Tax assistance we would not have been able to develop our world-class payment solutions.”

“At eWAY, we’re always looking to improve and innovate. Our every success leads to additional resources, which can be used to drive further wins. The R&D program has not only given us access to tax benefits, it has also helped guide us in project management best practice and ensuring R&D effort is focused on driving innovation within the business” Mr Bullock continued. Read more about eWAY’s and other R&D tax incentive business stories External Link - opens in new window.

So is your business entitled to the R&D Tax Incentive? There are a number of criteria your business and your R&D activities will need to meet. To find out more about these criteria and see if you are eligible check out StartUp Smart’s article How to determine whether you quality for the R&D tax incentive External Link - opens in new window.

If you are planning to claim under the R&D Tax Incentive you must register your eligible R&D activities with AusIndustry. You are required to complete this registration process each year you plan to claim.

You need to register your activities within 10 months of the end of the income year in which the activities were conducted. For example, if your business operates on a standard financial year (1 July to 30 June) you must register by 30 April 2014.

To register for the R&D Tax Incentive visit the AusIndustry website External Link - opens in new window. To find out more about the program visit the AusIndustry and Australian Taxation Office External Link - opens in new window websites.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Does your business travel overseas?

Smartraveller website screenshot

Does your business travel overseas? Maybe it’s for a short-term conference. Maybe it’s to buy or sell goods for your business. Whatever the need and however routine the trip may be, it is important that your business has a thorough travel plan.

To help with this, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has launched a Smartraveller business travel webpage External Link - opens in new window to advise Australian businesses operating overseas.

The webpage has been created to raise awareness of the importance of travel planning and risk management as an integral element in managing overseas travel, even for short visits to locations considered low-risk.

The new web page emphasises the need for Australians and Australian businesses operating abroad to understand the local threat environment, adopt robust protective security measures and develop reliable evacuation options.

Travel is inherently risky, even short-term travel to familiar overseas locations for meetings and conferences carries risks. The advice encourages employers to consider a wide range of factors in their risk assessments, including transport safety, environmental and health factors.

A range of potential threats confronting businesses operating overseas are highlighted, including violent crime, cyber-crime, involvement in commercial disputes and fraud, extortion and bribery.

The advice does not replace the Smartraveller country-specific travel advisories External Link - opens in new window but provides general information tailored to the needs of the business community. Business travellers, like all Australian travellers, are encouraged to register their travel details with DFAT External Link - opens in new window, subscribe to the travel advice for the country they are visiting and obtain appropriate travel insurance.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Understanding your compliance obligations

You have visited the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) External Link - opens in new window and prepared your ABLIS package, but what exactly do the results mean?

As a business owner or operator, you are responsible for understanding what compliance obligations relate to your business circumstances so it’s important for you to do more than just get the results from ABLIS! You need to understand how the results apply to your business and what action you need to take.

If you are based in the ACT, all of the results that ABLIS provides are legal requirements. But there are some important differences between licences and codes of practice.

What is a licence?
A licence relates to the need to obtain recognition or certification and registration to undertake a certain business activity. Often licences are referred to as registrations, permits or approvals.

Do I need to obtain a licence?
If there are licences in your results, there is a legal requirement to apply to government before you undertake the related activity. There will be various eligibility criteria, fees to pay and you may need to demonstrate that you have various competencies.

If you require several licences and permits to conduct your business activity, you may find that you have to apply for them in a particular order. ABLIS helps you identify this by listing “prerequisites” in the information.

What is a code of practice and do I need to do anything about them?
A code of practice can be either a legal requirement or non-legal requirement. Legal codes of practice are defined as a result of legislation. These are the codes of practice that ABLIS will include in your results. Codes of practice offer practical examples of good practice and give advice on how to comply with the relevant law. You will need to incorporate good practice into your business operations to ensure you are meeting your obligations under the laws that apply to your business type.

Non-legal codes of practice are defined by industry regulators and bodies. These codes set minimum standards that businesses operating within a particular industry are expected to comply with. If you become a member of an industry body, you may be required to comply with the industry code of practice to maintain your membership. This information is not available through ABLIS and to find this information you would need to check with the industry regulator or body that relates to your business.

Need help?
If you’re based in the ACT, you can contact Canberra BusinessPoint, the ACT Government’s business mentoring and advisory service. They can offer support and tailored advice in the establishment, operation and development of your business. You can contact them on 1300 648 641 or visit External Link - opens in new window for more information.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

How to effectively promote your event among local audiences

By National Convention Centre Canberra External Link - opens in new window

Successful local community or niche-market events can be a powerful way for small businesses to connect face to face with potential customers and raise their public profile. However these events are only as effective as the audience they attract.

Here are some simple ways to efficiently reach out to the local public, with limited marketing resources, and get your next event the attention (and attendance) it deserves.

Make the most of what you’ve got, and start early

Many of your best tools for event promotion are already on hand.

Publish dedicated event pages on your own website or blog and send out advance invitations to your existing customer contact list. While this may only attract a small number of visitors, the people who view your website or blog regularly are the most likely to attend your event. With a little encouragement they might even extend the invite to others in their network.

Social media is a cost effective way to get your event in front of potential attendees. Use the social media channels you already have in place to promote the event and link back to the relevant pages of your website. Keep the content as interesting and engaging as you can and be sure to incorporate social media elements like hashtags.

Reach out to your local community through community bloggers, event listings and local free papers. It’s a no brainer that the earlier you start the more potential coverage you’ll get.

Get friendly and collaborate with influencers

Take the time to identify bloggers and other influencers in your area that cover local events, local news or tie into your niche in a relevant way.

You can offer interesting content, exclusive interviews and access to your blog for cross promotion in return for spreading the word and promoting attendance at your event. It’s a collaboration that should help both parties.

You don’t have to go it alone 

Putting on an event requires a big investment of time and resources. Consider forming a partnership with a company or business that is close to your audience target. Doing this could potentially double your audience as well as helping to increase the return on investment for your event.

Remember that the more involved you are in the community, the greater the opportunity for promotion. Check out local charities and consider becoming a sponsor, or including a fundraiser as part of your event. As well as positioning your business in a positive light this can help to generate some excellent local publicity.

Spread the word

Consider the regional (or free) newspapers, local radio and community TV organisations that service your area.  Local sources of advertisement are usually more accessible than larger media with much more reasonable pricing. Given enough lead-time, some of them even give free access to local event listings.

What you see is what you get

To maximise the local impact of your next event you want to be seen. Get some visibility by placing posters in strategic locations. Some event venues, such as National Convention Centre Canberra External Link - opens in new window, offer advertising solutions such as an external Electronic Billboard to advertise events up to six weeks in advance.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Business Connect February Newsletter

The February issue of the Business Connect Newsletter is now available.

In this issue: 
  • Canberra innovators compete at Hackathon
  • Successful 12 months for Seeing Machines
  • Canberra film Galore selected for Berlin International Film Festival
  • Are you meeting all your compliance obligations? ABLIS can help!
  • $8 million investment and jobs for Canberra's manufacturing sector
  • Does it have legs? 3 things to ask yourself before you quit your day job 
  • Upcoming events 

View the Business Connect February Newsletter.
Sign up for the Business Connect Newsletter.

Successful 12 months for Seeing Machines

Local technology company Seeing Machines has capped off a successful 12 months, signing a deal in December with leading European coach company Royal Beuk. The deal will install Seeing Machines' driver fatigue monitoring system in 20 Royal Buek vehicles.

Seeing Machines' driver fatigue monitoring system automatically tracks a driver's eyes and face to identify signs of fatigue and to alert the driver if they become distracted or have a microsleep.

The agreement to install this system in the vehicles marks the end of a successful 2013 for the company who just a month before raised close to $25 million (£15 million) from investors on the London Stock Exchange.

In speaking with the Canberra Times, Seeing Machines Chief Executive Ken Kroeger said the company's first deal with a coach fleet operator was part of global moves to commercialise their technology across a range of transport fields.

"The big advantage of the larger intake of capital is that it allows us to move into those other segments that would have taken us longer - commercial transport, aviation and private passenger cars".

"In the next six months we'll be announcing a number of large commercial road transport pilot programs with carriers in Australia, Europe and North America" Mr Kroeger said. Read more in the Canberra Times article, Seeing Machines: Company changes into top gear as its driver fatigue monitor takes off External Link - opens in new window.

In the same year, Seeing Machines also signed a deal with global mining company Caterpillar, again for their driver fatigue system. In a separate article with the Canberra Times, Mr Kroeger said Caterpillar looked at 32 products around the world before signing the agreement with Seeing Machines.

''It's a $60 billion company, they do most things themselves. The fact they chose us sort of proves we are an accepted science within the industry,'' he said. Read more in the Canberra Times article Mining Giant sees the light, via Canberra External Link - opens in new window.

Seeing Machines began from a research hub at the Australian National University over a decade ago and while it is now listed on the London Stock Exchange, the company still remains headquartered in Canberra.

Seeing Machines now exports to 13 countries and has been recognised in the ACT Chief Minister's Export Award, winning the ICT category in 2013 and the Small to Medium Services category in 2012. They have also been involved in the Entrepreneur Development Fund (EDF) External Link - opens in new window, a program funded by the ACT Government, Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre External Link - opens in new window and Epicorp Limited which supports high growth potential ACT based businesses to develop or refine key skills and capabilities, grow the company, and achieve their business goals.