Innovation Connect Frequently Asked Questions

Overview

These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are intended to provide you with guidance and additional information on completing your Innovation Connect video pitch, Application form and managing your grant under the Innovation Connect grant program.


Eligibility

I registered my business in the ACT but have since moved interstate am I eligible to apply?

No. Innovation Connect is an ACT Government initiative using tax-payer funds and there needs to be demonstrable benefits to the ACT and the local economy. Therefore the business needs to be based in the ACT with the project’s activities occurring in the ACT and surrounds.

Do I need to have an ABN to receive a grant?

Yes. An agreement between the ACT Government and successful grant recipients can’t be entered into unless the recipient has a registered business. For the ACT Government to pay successful grant recipients an ABN is required for taxation purposes. Applicants may submit evidence of an ABN application if confirmation of an ABN has not come through at the time of Innovation Connect application.

Assessment Criteria

What criteria is my application assessed against?

Applications will be assessed against the following criteria, (explanatory notes are in italics):

  • the project develops a product or service that is genuinely innovative in that it has the potential to take advantage of new markets or disrupt existing markets

Innovation Connect is designed to maximise the benefits of the grant funding it issues by favoring products that are likely to grow a business rapidly due to a lack of immediate competition and may struggle to obtain funding from commercial sources due to the inherent risks in new products or services.

  • the applicant has and/or can access the necessary expertise to deliver the project and continue to grow the business to achieve the longer term objectives stated in the application

An applicant who has access to the necessary expertise demonstrated through experience in related fields (domain expertise) will be more competitive in an Innovation Connect process.

  • the applicant’s business growth as a result of the project will lead to Economic Development benefits for the ACT and region

See issues to consider when addressing this criteria under “Application Content” below  

  • there is a genuine need for the funding and that the project is less likely to be completed or will be significantly delayed without the funding

Companies that are deemed to have access to capital or other resources (for example from a parent company) will be prioritised accordingly.

Application Process

Do I need to submit a video pitch?

Yes. The short 90 second video pitch that is created not only serves the purpose of applying for Innovation Connect funding, it assists the applicant to practice their pitching and produces basic content that the applicant will be able to use through other channels. Any video capture hardware and software can be used to produce a video, as long as the final product is uploaded to a YouTube / Vimeo channel and the URL referenced in the EOI application form. Only the content of the pitch and not the quality of the video, acting displayed or images used you will be assessed. Applicants that experience technical difficulties in producing a video are encouraged to contact Client Managers.

What about any IP that is discussed in my application, how is this handled?

Only program staff and the Independent Assessment Panel have access to application information, including videos. Applicants can ensure security of their information by using the “unlisted” security setting for the video in their YouTube channel. All Independent Assessment Panel members have signed confidentiality agreements to be members of the Panel and program staff is required by the Public Sector Management Act to treat commercial-in-confidence appropriately. If an opportunity arises outside of the application process for content to be used to market the program applicant approval would always be sought first.

It is also important for innovative start-ups to be able to communicate their innovation without giving away their intellectual property.

What happens after I have submitted by video pitch?

Once the closing date for the submission of video pitches has passed, the Independent Assessment Panel will be provided time to review and score each submission. The scores provided by the Independent Assessment Panel will then determine the top ranked submissions that will progress to the next stage of the process. All applicants will be notified of the outcome of this process.

I was unsuccessful in progressing past the video pitch stage of the process. Does that mean I can’t reapply?

You are welcome to resubmit an application in subsequent rounds. An unsuccessful application could have been submitted in a very competitive round or perhaps there were some inconsistencies regarding the application. Applicants are welcome to request feedback to strengthen their proposal for future rounds and are encouraged to avail themselves of the training and expert advice available through the CBR Innovation Network.

What do the grants support?

Can Innovation Connect grant funds be used to market my product/service?

Generic type marketing activities like the production of flyers, business cards and a website to market a product/service can’t be claimed under Innovation Connect. However, applicants are able to claim these types of costs as part of their matched-funding requirement. Innovation Connect grant funds need to be used for professional third party services for strategic purposes like market research, market testing or the development of a marketing strategy.

I have the skills and experience to build my prototype do I need to outsource this to be eligible to claim under Innovation Connect?

You can build your own prototype if you have the relevant skills to do so and can claim the value of you or your employee’s time for re-imbursement through the grant funding component. In these situations you must demonstrate that the value of you or your employee’s time that you will be charging to the Innovation Connect program is a reasonable estimate and that it represents value for money for the program and the bet outcome for your project. Typically you will include quotes from professional service providers for the work you are intending to undertake to show the market value of such work.

You are also able to claim against the grant costs related to the purchase of the components for the prototype but tools and equipment to assist in building the prototype would need to be discussed with Client Managers prior to their purchase. Potentially purchases of this sort could be deemed assets that are not primarily for use in the project and as such not an eligible expenditure under Innovation Connect grant funding.

Application Content

Applicants that progress past the Expression of Interest stage will be asked to submit an Application.

Issues you should consider addressing in your Application include:

  • Does your idea fill a gap in the market? Explain who your direct and indirect competitors are and how your concept compares to theirs. What are the differences and the advantages of your idea?
  • What is the innovation in your proposal? Why can’t existing products do what yours can?
  • Is your idea scalable? How will you expand your beyond the ACT?
  • What activities and business planning has already been done?
  • What market research have you undertaken? Is the market large enough to ensure your idea is commercially viable?
  • How will you market your idea? Consider your strategy carefully. Don’t just assume that once you have your product it will sell itself.
  • What incentive will customers have to switch to this new product?
  • How will you distribute your product? Have you developed or are you developing a well-planned and appropriately financed distribution strategy?
  • How will your product have an extended life cycle that ensures long-term revenue flow?

Innovation Connect is an ACT Government program and support is only available to Canberra-based businesses that are registered in the ACT and the assessment criteria is the extent to which a project will provide longer term economic benefits to the ACT.

Examples of issues you may wish to address in demonstrating economic benefit to the ACT include:

  • Does the project contribute to diversity of economic enterprises in the ACT?
  • Does the project support the local economy, particularly in the purchase of local goods and services?
  • Does the project provide specific employment opportunities or fill employment needs of particular groups of people?
  • What social value will the goods and services produced by the project have? Will they fill an unmet need?
  • Does the project improve the efficiency in the use of resources, reduce environmental impacts, or improve environmental quality?
  • Does the project enhance cooperation and partnerships including with other businesses, academic institutions, government and community groups?
  • Does the project enhance or promote a competitive advantage for the ACT and region?
  • Does the project create greater choices or opportunities for the ACT and region?
  • Does the project align with published ACT Economic Development strategies such as the ACT’s Business Development Strategy, “Confident & Business Ready: Building on Our Strengths”?

What supporting materials should I include in my Application?

What supporting materials should I supply?

In regards to supporting material to enhance your claims against the Assessment Criteria, the application should include:

  • a minimum of two (2) quotes to justify any cost estimates of significant work to be undertaken by a third party, or to validate any estimate of the value of work to be undertaken in-house
  • resumes/CV’s of the members of the project team
  • any relevant business and or marketing plans
  • only attachments that are directly relevant to the application and are appropriately succinct

Do I need to attach a business plan to my Application?

If applicants have business planning documentation they are encouraged to submit them but other than the application itself, there is no requirement to provide a formal business plan during the application process.

In the guidelines it states that applicants should provide quotes for any activities to be undertaken by a third party, or to provide external quotes to justify the value estimated for work undertaken internally. Why is this required?

Providing quotes for work to be undertaken by a third party demonstrates that the applicant has approached the market and has considered value for money and it provides Independent Assessment Panel members with an opportunity to assess the scope of work to be undertaken and to determine whether the funding amount is appropriate. Quotes that detail the scope of work also assist the Independent Assessment Panel to better understand the end product.

It is not expected that you provide quotes for minor pieces of work. If you are uncertain whether or not you should provide quotes please discuss the matter with Client Managers.

Why is it a requirement that I provide a resume/CV for the project team?

One big factor in the potential success of a start-up is domain expertise and a team with complementary skill sets. For a lot of investors the team is more important that the innovative nature of the product/service. By providing resumes/CVs for the project team this provides the Independent Assessment Panel with more information on the team and their skills and experience.

How is the grant paid?

In the guidelines it mentions a payment at the start of the project, what does this mean?

Innovation Connect grants previously were a reimbursement where successful recipients needed to cover all costs upfront and be reimbursed eligible Innovation Connect grant expenditure through a milestone reporting process. Due to most applicants being at the start of their journey with a lack of capital accessible we found that this resulted in project delays. To remedy this, while also ensuring good governance, an upfront payment has been included at the start of a project to assist in commencing the project. A payment of up to 50% of the total grant awarded is available but this is determined by Client Managers on a case-by-case basis. For successful grant recipients this will be worked through when the Deed of Grant is being negotiated.

How many milestone payments should I expect?

It is recommended that you limit the number of individual milestones to a maximum of four (4) and you should consider what these will be when you are preparing your application. The proposed date for each milestone must be achievable and the activity measurable.

You should also keep cash flow in mind when preparing your milestones. Refer to the section ‘Grant Payment’ in the Guidelines on how grant payments work and the question that follows directly.

What happens once I have spent the initial upfront payment, will I get another payment for the rest of the project?

Once the full amount that was paid at the beginning of a project has been spent the project reverts back to a reimbursement grant. What that means is the grant recipient will need to pay tax invoices for Innovation Connect funded items out of their own pocket and through the milestone reporting process claim these costs back through milestone payments. It is important that applicants consider this when they are planning their project activities and the timing of their milestones.

What is a milestone report?

When a successful grant recipient has reached the point of negotiating a Deed of Grant between the ACT Government and the relevant entity Client Managers will work with the business to determine the timing of reporting on the progress of the project. A milestone report is an opportunity for the grant recipient to report on the activities conducted during a period of time and to also demonstrate the expenditure that has occurred for that period. All successful grant recipients will be provided with milestone report templates and access to online milestone reporting forms at the beginning of their project.

Further Information

If you require further information or assistance please contact the Innovation Connect Client Managers on:

Phone:   (02) 6205 1308 or (02) 6207 8040

Email:    Cornelius.weber@act.gov.au/ stephen.grinter@act.gov.au or business.mailbox@act.gov.au