Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Export Hubs

At a glance


Provides grants from $150,000 to $1.5 million to help establish and/or operate Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) export hubs in the six Growth Centre sectors. The export hubs will work with Growth Centres to facilitate SME export opportunities.

Who can apply:

At a minimum, you must:

  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN), and
  • be one of the eligible entities listed in the Eligibility criteria

Other eligibility requirements may apply.

Contact information:

13 28 46


The Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) grant opportunity supports SME Export Hubs in the development of local, regional and Indigenous brands through business collaborations in the identified areas of competitive strength.

This grant opportunity complements existing initiatives, such as those delivered through the Export Finance Australia (former Efic), the Australian Trade and Investment Commission - Austrade, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, and the Industry Growth Centres Initiative.

SMEs may be local, regional, remote and/or Indigenous.

The objectives of the grant opportunity are to:

  • support the establishment and/or operation of SME export hubs (export hubs) in the six Growth Centre sectors:
    • Advanced Manufacturing
    • Cyber Security
    • Food and Agribusiness
    • Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals
    • Mining Equipment, Technology and Services
    • Oil, Gas and Energy Resources.
  • support SME development through facilitation of export opportunities and working with the Growth Centres.

The minimum grant amount is $150,000.

The maximum grant amount is $1.5 million.

The grant amount is up to 50% of eligible project costs.

The maximum grant period is two years five months. Projects must be complete by 30 June 2022.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN)


be one of the following entities:

  • an incorporated not-for-profit organisation such as:
    • an incorporated association
    • a company limited by guarantee
    • a non-distributing co-operative
    • an Indigenous not-for-profit corporation
    • a not-for-profit incorporated trustee on behalf of a trust
    • an Australian local government agency or body
    • an Australian state/territory government agency or body
    • Regional Development Australia (RDA) committee.

If you are applying as a not-for-profit organisation you must demonstrate your not-for-profit status through one of the following:

  • current Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s (ACNC) registration
  • state or territory incorporated association status
  • constitutional documents and/or Articles of Association that demonstrate the not-for-profit character of your organisation.

You are not eligible to apply if you are:

  • an incorporated for-profit organisation
  • an unincorporated association
  • an individual
  • a partnership
  • a publicly funded research organisation (PFRO) including universities as defined in appendix A in the grant opportunity guidelines.
  • a research organisation
  • a trust (however, a not-for-profit incorporated trustee may apply on behalf of a trust)
  • a Commonwealth government agency or body (including government business enterprises), unless listed in section 4.1 in the grant opportunity guidelines.

To be eligible your project must

  • include eligible activities and eligible expenditure
  • have at least $300,000 in eligible expenditure
  • support the establishment and/or operation of a new or existing export hub
  • support participating SMEs to improve their capability to increase exports, and create jobs
  • develop and implement an export strategy, focused on current or future global opportunities, building on identified competitive strengths and innovation potential of participating SMEs.

Refer to grant opportunity guidelines for further information on eligibility criteria.

Merit criteria

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

Stage 1 - Expression of interest

How your project aligns with the objectives and outcomes of the grant opportunity. You should demonstrate this by identifying:

  1. whether you are seeking to establish a new export hub or expand operations of an existing (mature) export hub. Briefly outline how you propose to carry out the project
  2. the location and reach of your proposed export hub, and how the export hub will ensure new participants can engage. Provide an estimated number of SMEs that will be able to access the services your export hub will provide in your region
  3. how your proposed export hub addresses one or more of the Growth Centres' strategic priorities. This can include promoting cyber resilience within the hub and participating SMEs
  4. the services to be delivered by your proposed export hub and how these services will contribute to improving SMEs capabilities to generate new export activities and commercial outcomes
  5. the knowledge, capability and capacity gaps that have been barriers to export for SMEs and how the hub will address these identified gaps
  6. the risks associated with your export hub and how you expect to mitigate these
  7. whether your proposed export hub project would go ahead without the SME Export Hub grant
  8. if you are an Indigenous organisation
  9. if your project will be located in a regional or remote area.

Stage 2 applications

Merit criterion 1: How your project aligns with the program objectives, in particular how it will benefit Small and Medium Enterprises through building export capability (40 points)

Merit criterion 2: Capacity, capability and resources to deliver the export hub (30 points)

Merit criterion 3: Impact of grant funding on the project (30 points)

How to apply

You should read the grant opportunity guidelines before you apply. The guidelines provide detailed information on the grant opportunity, including granting activity objectives; all eligibility and merit criteria; the assessment processes; reporting and acquittal requirements; and a description of review mechanisms.

Stage 1 - Expression of Interest

To apply, you must submit your expression of interest application through the online portal. You will need to set up an account when you first log into the portal.

Stage 2 - Grant application

If your expression of interest is successful, you will be will invited to submit an SME Export Hub grant application. You will receive a link to the grant application in an email. You must submit your grant application through the online portal. When you submit your grant application the status in the portal will show that your application has been submitted. You can monitor the progress of your grant application in the portal.

Applications for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Round 2 has closed.

How we assess applications

We first assess stage 1 expressions of interest against the eligibility criteria. We provide all eligible applications to the relevant Growth Centres for consideration. The Growth Centres will provide advice to the Advisory Committee on the capability, capacity, the likelihood of success and alignment of the expression of interest with the strategic priorities of the relevant Growth Centres.

An advisory committee will assess your EOI against the stage 1 merit criterion taking into consideration the advice of the Growth Centres. The committee may also seek additional advice from independent technical experts.

The committee recommends to the program delegate, which EOIs should be invited to submit a stage 2 application. The program delegate then makes a decision. If your expression of interest is successful, you will be invited to submit a stage 2 grant application.

The committee will assess your stage 2 grant application against the stage 2 merit criteria and compare it to other invited stage 2 applications. We will group applications in categories according to the type of export hub (e.g. newly established or existing/mature) to ensure similar projects are compared against each other. The committee may also seek additional advice from independent technical experts.

The committee will make recommendations to the Minister about which applications should be approved for funding. To recommend an application for funding, it must score highly against each merit criterion. While we assess all applications against the same merit criteria, we will score applications relative to the project size, complexity and grant amount requested. The evidence provided to support an application should be proportional to the size and complexity of the project.

If the selection process identifies unintentional errors in your application, we may contact you to correct or clarify the errors, but you cannot make any material alteration or addition.

The Minister will make the final decision.

If your application is successful

If your stage 2 application is successful, we will email you and include in the email any specific conditions attached to the grant. If you are unsuccessful, we will email you and give you an opportunity to discuss the outcome with us.

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

We will make payments according to an agreed schedule set out in the grant agreement. Payments are subject to satisfactory progress on the project. We set aside five per cent of the total grant funding for the final payment. We will pay this when you submit a satisfactory end of project report demonstrating you have completed outstanding obligations for the project. We may need to adjust your progress payments to align with available program funds across financial years and/or to ensure we retain a minimum five per cent of grant funding for the final payment.

Payments will be made by direct credit into a nominated bank account.

Information session

A webinar was held on Tuesday 3 September 2019 providing information on the program, the application process and the Growth Centres and their priorities. You can view a recording of the webinar.

The slide deck from the webinar is available:

Key documents

  • Grant opportunity guidelines - Round 2
  • SME Export Hubs Board or CEO letter template
  • Factsheet
  • Sample grant agreement - simple
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Guidance on growth centre priorities
  • Accountants declaration template
  • Project budget template
  • Project Plan including an SME Engagement Plan template

Successful applicants

View the successful applicants for the Small and Medium Enterprises Export Hubs Grant Opportunity.

Thanks for your feedback. If you have any ideas on how we can improve, we'd love to hear them.

Please provide your comments in the feedback form.

You might also be interested in