Incubator Support

Provides new and existing business incubators with matched funding of up to $500,000, to assist Australian start-ups develop the capabilities required to succeed in international markets.

  • Status: Closed
  • Delivered by: AusIndustry


Incubator Support: Update on program status

On 9 May 2017, changes to the Incubator Support initiative were announced under the 2017 Budget.

As part of its 2017 Budget, the Government announced that the Incubator Support initiative will provide additional focus to ensure it reflects the importance the Australian Government places on regional development. The Australian Government recognises that incubators in regional areas face specific challenges in establishing and growing, and these differ from metropolitan areas. The initiative’s changes will include amendments to the Incubator Support Programme Guidelines to provide greater support to regional start-ups by improving the capabilities of regional incubators and accelerators, and further maximising outcomes for the regions.

The enhanced regional aspect will be launched later in 2017.

Temporary closure of the Incubator Support application form

With these changes to Incubator Support, new program guidelines and application form will be released shortly. As of 17 November you will no longer be able to lodge an Incubator Support application through the smartform or retrieve your application content through your tracking number. Please save your application content outside this application form so it is not lost. For further information, you can contact us on 13 28 46 or by web chat or through our online enquiry form on

The Incubator Support initiative assists New and Existing Incubators to:

  • improve the prospects of Australian start-ups achieving commercial success in international markets
  • assist Australian start-ups by delivering a range of activities to develop the capabilities required to realise their economic potential in international markets faster than they otherwise would; and
  • develop Australia’s innovation ecosystem including in Australian regions.

The initiative provides funding through two components, both of which require matched funding from applicants.

The first is support for New and Existing Incubators:

  • to help develop new Incubators in regions or sectors with high potential for success in international trade, and
  • to boost the effectiveness of high performing Incubators, including funding support to expand their services and/or develop the innovation ecosystem.

The second is support for Expert-in-Residence:

  • to organise and provide access to top quality research, managerial and technical talent through secondments of national or international expert advisers who will improve the chance of commercial success for start-ups in international markets.

What support or funding is available?

  • New and Existing Incubators projects can apply for a minimum grant amount of $10,000 and a maximum grant amount of $500,000. The maximum grant period is 24 months.
  • Expert-in-Residence projects can apply for a minimum grant amount of $1,000 and a maximum grant amount of $25,000. The maximum grant period is 12 months.
  • The grant amount will be up to 50% of the total Incubator Support project value.

Who can apply?

To be eligible for Incubator Support, applicants must:

  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN),
  • be an existing incubator or establishing a new incubator that can foster and facilitate the development of innovative start-ups focused on international trade, and
  • be one of the following:
    • an entity incorporated in Australia
    • an incorporated trustee on behalf of a trust
    • a not for profit organisation
    • a publically funded research organisation (PFRO), excluding government departments or agencies which undertake publicly funded research
    • local government.

You are not eligible to apply if you’re:

  • an individual, partnership or trust (however, an incorporated trustee may apply on behalf of a trust)
  • a Commonwealth or state government agency or body (including PFROs and government business enterprises)

Note: For the purposes of Incubator Support, an incubator is defined as a business support organisation that fosters innovative start-ups focused on international trade, through the provision of services such as seed funding, colocation, mentoring, professional services and access to networks. It can include accelerators and germinators.

What are the eligibility criteria?

To be eligible for funding, your project must:

  • include eligible activities and expenditure
  • have a total project value of at least $20,000 for New and Existing Incubators grants
  • have a total project value of at least $2,000 for Expert-in-Residence grants

Eligible activities can include the following:

For New and Existing Incubators

Examples of eligible activities include but are not limited to Incubators:

  • expanding mentor networks to new mentors with national or international expertise
  • providing or facilitating access for innovative start-ups to new resources (such as purchase of technical equipment) to promote or facilitate international trade
  • providing or facilitating access for innovative start-ups to new knowledge (such as customer acquisition and/ or business development methods) to promote or facilitate international trade
  • facilitating innovative start-ups’ access to new international networks (e.g. investors, customers peer firms).

For Expert-in-Residence

Examples of eligible activities include but are not limited to:

  • a workshop where an expert gives advice on developing business activities, for example in international markets
  • engaging a national or international expert (with knowledge in start-up related technology and international experience) to assist start-ups address key challenges during an Incubator program.

This is not an exhaustive list of eligible activities for the new and existing Incubators component. The Programme Delegate makes the final decision on whether an activity is eligible. For more information contact us or call us on 13 28 46.

You must also be able to provide the following:

  • trust deed (where applicable)
  • for New and Existing Incubators applications - evidence from your organisation’s Board (or support from the Chief Executive Officer or director, if there is no Board) that the project has support, and that the applicant can complete the project and meet the costs of the project not covered by grant funding
  • or Expert-In-Residence applications - resumes outlining the experience and capabilities of the experts.

Note: You can apply and receive funding for up to two grants at the same time. You can apply for more than two grants only after you have finished one of the funded projects and have provided your final report. For more information on eligibility requirements refer to the Programme Guidelines.

What are the merit criteria?

You must address each of the following merit criteria for New and Existing Incubators applications:

  1. Management and Business Capability (40 points)
  2. Expected impact and benefits of the project (50 points)
  3. Value for money (10 points)

For more information on the merit criteria refer to the Programme Guidelines. There are no merit criteria for Expert-in-Residence applications. You will need to provide information regarding your expert’s qualifications and experience.

How do I apply?

You will need to read the Programme Guidelines and complete the online application at the 'I’m ready to apply' tab.

If you are unable to complete the online application form, call us on 13 28 46.

How will my application be assessed?

For New and Existing Incubators we will first assess applications against the eligibility criteria. If your application is eligible, we will refer it to Innovation and Science Australia to assess it against the merit criteria.

To be competitive you must score highly against all of the merit criteria.

  1. Management and Business Capability (40 points)
  2. Expected impact and benefits of the project (50 points)
  3. Value for money (10 points)

The Minister will decide which New and Existing Incubators grants to approve.

Note: The New and Existing Incubators funding component is assessed against merit, and is highly competitive. Applicants are encouraged to use the Application Checklist when completing the online Application form, to ensure all information to form a strong submission has been included.

Application Checklist

You are also encouraged to view the two short Incubator Support videos: Submitting a competitive application and Addressing the merit criteria which provide further information and tips about how to submit a competitive application under the New and Existing component of the initiative.

For Expert-in-Residence applications we will assess against the eligibility criteria. The Programme Delegate will decide which of these grants to approve.

How will I know if I am successful?

If your application is successful, you will receive a written offer. If you are unsuccessful, we will notify you in writing and give you the chance to discuss the outcome with us.

For more information on how we assess your application go to section 274 of the Programme Guidelines.

How will payments be made?

Successful applicants must enter into a grant agreement with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. The grant agreement will specify the reporting requirements, payment schedule and milestones necessary to receive payments.

  • New and Existing Incubators – We will make a first payment when the grant agreement is executed. We make payments by direct credit into a nominated bank account.
  • Expert-in-Residence - We will pay 100% of the grant when the grant agreement is executed .A final report will be due after project completion.

For more information on payments go to Schedule E of the Programme Guidelines.

Information sessions

Information sessions will be held across Australian metropolitan and regional areas.

These sessions will provide an overview of the initiative, including eligibility and merit criteria, available funding and details on how to apply.

Registration is essential. Please register for an event near you.

Key documents

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