Fund your software project: A guide to grants, accelerator programs and seed funding in Australia

Did you know that you don’t need to raise the capital for your software project entirely on your own?

Whether you’re creating an app, website, business automation program or any other software project, applying for a grant or looking for other ways to get it funded is a great idea if the project is costly or you simply can’t raise the cash yourself. There are also various incubator and accelerator programs and seed funding options worth exploring.

And if your software project offers a community benefit, you may also be eligible for government support. A number of state and federal grants are available to Victorians.

Here’s a guide to grants, accelerator programs and seed funding in Australia:

Grants

A grant is a sum of money given by one party to a recipient to fulfil a particular purpose, such as creating a software product. Grants are non-repayable allowances commonly issued by governments, foundations or trusts. To be considered for a grant, a formal application or proposal has to be submitted detailing how the grant will fund a specific project. 

Here are some grants available in Australia:

Public Sector Innovation Fund (PSIF)

The Public Sector Innovation Fund (PSIF) grants range from $50,000 - $400,000, and favour small-scale collaborative projects that test new approaches for better outcomes for Victorians. Applications are open throughout the year, but only those working within the Victorian public sector can apply.

Export Market Development Grants (EMDG)

Does your software project have an export element? The Export Market Development Grants (EMDG), an Australian Government-assisted scheme, supports a range of industry sectors in the development of export markets. Specifically, you can be reimbursed up to 50% of eligible export promotion expenses above $5,000 provided that the total expenses are at least $15,000. Eligible applicants can receive up to eight grants in total.

Business Victoria grants

There are a number of grants, vouchers and assistance programs available through Business Victoria, with differing application deadlines. Grant amounts vary, so have a look through the programs on offer to see what fits your project specifications.

Federal Government grants

There are a variety of Federal Government-funded grants and assistance on offer, and this website helps you search for a specific grant or find what’s on offer in your industry.

City of Melbourne Small Business Grants Program

If you live or work in the City of Melbourne and your software project is market-ready, you’re eligible to apply for assistance via the council’s Small Business Grants Program. Applications open each year in July and successful recipients are informed in December. Projects favoured include highly-innovative ideas which contribute to a sustainable business culture.

City of Melbourne Community Grants

Does your software project have a community aspect that would benefit those who live in the City of Melbourne? The City of Melbourne Community Grants offers grants from $3000 to $20 000 for projects that successfully demonstrate an outcome for Melbournians in keeping with healthy, safe, connected communities.

LaunchVic

LaunchVic works in partnership with entrepreneurs, industry, business, the community and educational institutions to strengthen Victoria’s entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem. Their focus is to invest in the infrastructure of Victoria’s startup ecosystem to increase scale and improve capability. Learn more here.

Codium grants and incentives

Leading Australian software development and support services company Codium offers some unique ways to fund your software project. Through a partnership with IBM, Codium engages IBM to finance your software project as one of their clients at a low interest rate. Another partnership with a range of R & D tax incentive specialists, they may be able to help you recover up to 45% of your software development cost at tax time. More details here

Other grants

Find more government grants for startups here and here, as well as other grants and assistance via Youth Central.

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Incubators and accelerator programs

An incubator or accelerator program involves an established company that helps a startup or early-stage business to develop by providing services or assistance, such as management training, office space, marketing, networking, mentoring etc. For some programs, equity-based funding or agreements come as part of the arrangement, while others will offer funding without taking a share of the business. 

There are loads of incubator and accelerator programs available in Sydney and Melbourne, in addition to the ones listed below:

Startmate

Startmate invests in great Australian founders who are on a mission to be the best in the world. They offer $75,000 cash for 7.5% equity. For startups that have raised more than $200,000, they will match the terms of the last round of funding. More info here.

AngelCube 

AngelCube is a Melbourne-based accelerator program for tech startups. Over an intensive 3 month program, they help companies to create better products, accelerate their growth and build successful, globally scalable businesses. They offer $40,000 in seed funding, coaching, a coworking space and more.

BlueChilli

BlueChilli helps talented founders build businesses using a purpose-built methodology designed to accelerate a startup’s path to launch, growth and scale. Their aim is to help founders build highly investable, scalable and well-designed businesses that are enabled by technology. Pitch your idea here.

Pollenizer

Pollenizer helps entrepreneurs and large companies grow successful businesses. Our Their incubation programs, events, online courses and coaching challenge people and businesses to take entrepreneurial leaps, all the while supported by the Startup Science® methodology, giving their ideas the best chance of success. There are four intakes per year for 10 week cycles.

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Seed funding

Seed funding, also known as seed money or seed capital, is where an investor invests capital in exchange for an equity stake in the company. The term ‘seed’ suggests that it is an early investment, designed to support a business until it can generate its own cash flow or attract further investments.  Seed funding can be obtained through money contributed by family and friends, angel funding, and crowdfunding. 

Here are some options:

Startup Australia

Whether you’re keen to do seed funding, angel funding, IP securitisation, venture capital or crowd funding, Startup Australia can point you in the right direction.

Blackbird Ventures

Blackbird Ventures is a venture capital firm that invests in Australians wanting to be the best in the world (not just the best in Australia). They provide equity capital for all stages from seed, Series A and later stage. Find out more.

Sydney Seed Fund

Are you a world-class founder? Sydney Seed Fund is Australia’s first choice investment fund for seed stage tech startups. To be eligible, your business must be based in Australia, your business must be an Internet-based business model or employ Internet-related technologies, and your business must be less than 18 months old and exhibiting potential growth. Apply today.

Crowdfunding platforms

Crowdfunding is another form of gaining funding, particularly in the early stages of a business. Usually, the money is raised by large number of people and anyone in the public can contribute funds. It is seen as an alternative way to gather funds, via crowdsourcing. Kickstarter is the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for creative projects and Pozible is a crowdfunding community in Australia and Asia. VentureCrowd is Australia's original equity based crowd funding platform, on a mission to fund the great Australian innovations of the future.