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 following entities:
    • an incorporated not-for-profit organisation
    • an Australian local government agency or body
    • an Australian state/territory government agency or body
    • a Regional Development Australia (RDA) committee.

Other eligibility requirements apply.

Contact information:

13 28 46


The Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) grant opportunity will support 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 Australian Export Finance Corporation - 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 will be up to 50 per cent of eligible project costs.

The maximum grant period is four years and you must complete your project by 30 June 2022.

The grant opportunity will be delivered through a two-stage competitive selection process.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN), and
  • 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
    • a 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
  • 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.

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, building on identified SME strengths and innovation potential.

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

Merit criteria

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

Stage 2 - Grant application

  • 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

Expressions of interest are closed.

Stage 2 - Grant application

Stage 2 applications are closed. You can monitor the progress of your grant application in the portal. 

How we assess applications

We first assessed stage one expressions of interest against the eligibility criteria and the stage 1 merit criterion. We provided all eligible applications to the relevant Growth Centres for consideration. The Growth Centres provided advice to the program delegate on the capability, capacity, the likelihood of success and alignment of the expression of interest with the strategic priorities of the relevant Growth Centres.

The department considered the advice of the relevant Growth Centres and recommended to the program delegate which expressions of interest should be invited to submit a stage 2 grant application. The program delegate then made a decision. Successful expressions of interest were invited to submit a stage 2 grant application.

An advisory 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 grant 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 Friday 7 December 2018 to inform stage 2 applicants about the services available to them from organisations such as Austrade, the Australian Export Financial Corporation (Efic) and the Export Council of Australia.

View the slide deck:

A webinar was held on 2 October with information:

  • on the SME Export Hubs Initiative and the application process
  • on the Growth Centres and their priorities
  • from industry clustering experts on how an export hub could be operated.

View the Applicant briefing webinar slide deck for the 2 October webinar:

Key documents

  • Grant opportunity guidelines
  • Factsheet
  • Sample grant agreement - simple
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Guidance on growth centre priorities

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