Government grants for startups


6th May, 2019

Top grants for startups and small business in New Zealand

Setting up a new business for success is hard work and certainly not a given. That’s why the Government and its agencies offer a range of grants for startups and small business in New Zealand.

Startups and more established small businesses need adequate funding to test their ideas, launch a venture, and grow.

Grants make it possible to access required funding and mentorship without having to give up any equity in your organisation.

Within New Zealand, there’s a variety of support available. Here are some top funding opportunities to investigate.

Grants for research and development (R&D)

New Zealand’s innovation-focused government agency, Callaghan Innovation, provides a range of R&D services to help businesses grow faster.

Those in the early stages of research and development, or who are new to this area, can apply for a Getting Started Grant.

This grant helps businesses to take their product, process, or service idea from development through to commercialisation.

Accepted entrepreneurs receive 40 percent of their eligible R&D project costs, up to the value of $5,000. They also get access to technical expertise.

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Businesses must complete the R&D in New Zealand and first meet financial and due diligence requirements to qualify.

If you want to expand your R&D efforts, Callaghan also offers a Project Grant.

These grants are designed to help entrepreneurs take on larger or more challenging research and development processes. The investment can be long-term.

Chosen ventures usually receive 40 percent of their eligible R&D project costs. This percentage reduces, however, for large projects or if the business has already received numerous grants.

Callaghan further assists entrepreneurs through the availability of Student Grants, which enable businesses to bring in talented students to assist with R&D at a minimal cost.

The innovation agency also invests funds in a variety of Technology Incubators in New Zealand. These incubators, in turn, assist companies in commercialising complex technologies.

Grants for growing your business

When you have a more established business and need funding to grow it, there are specific grants to take advantage of.

For example, the New Zealand Government, specifically through the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, has committed to invest $3 billion over three years in regions of the country.

Businesses in regional New Zealand (outside of Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch) can apply for assistance through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

This fund is designed to help entrepreneurs based in areas where common struggles include unemployment, lower productivity, and finding skilled workers.

The Provincial Growth Fund invests in many different initiatives and projects. This includes non-commercial, commercial, and quasi-commercial activities that the Provincial Development Unit administering the fund sees as having wider regional benefits.

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Non-commercial projects are typically funded through grants, while commercial and quasi-commercial options (those which generate revenue but not enough to be funded by the private sector) are usually funded through loans.

PGF support is available for businesses which fall into three main tiers:

  • Regionally-focused projects
  • Sector-focused projects
  • Infrastructure-based projects

The goal of the Fund is to accelerate development, increase productivity, and contribute to the number of better-paying jobs in regional areas.

Grants for exporting your products and services

The New Zealand Trade and Enterprise department helps businesses wishing to expand internationally.

The government department assists with a variety of services, such as identifying the right markets and funding opportunities, connecting with investors, developing investment plans, and fine-tuning pitches.

There is also co-investment available (40:60 Government:customer) for select, qualified organisations with specific growth projects.

This International Growth Fund features three levels of co-investment. There is a maximum of:

  • $100,000 offered over 12 months for market validation
  • $600,000 offered over three years for a full funding individual opportunity
  • $900,000 offered over three years for a full funding coalition opportunity

This funding excludes capital expenditure.

Specific industry and group grants

There are also multiple grants available for enterprises in particular industries and groups.

The Ministry for Primary Industries offers grants and co-investment funding to primary sector businesses as well as those who use primary industry materials to make products.

For example, food and beverage manufacturers make this list.

Support is available for primary-industry organisations wanting to export, improve sustainability, increase productivity, or protect the country from biosecurity risks.

There are multiple funding schemes on offer, such as those supporting:

  • Maori collective ownership
  • Irrigation scheme upgrades
  • Sustainable farming initiatives
  • Fisheries research
  • Aquaculture planning

In addition, Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Maori Development, together with other business support services, runs the Maori Business Growth Support programme.

This programme aims to help build the skills and knowledge of Maori entrepreneurs, particularly those running small to medium enterprises.

Apart from a wide range of general mentoring and other business assistance, Maori Business Growth Support also sometimes provides investment to contribute to the cost of business support services received from private service providers.

Maori entrepreneurs are also supported through Te Punaha Hiringa: Maori Innovation Fund.

It was created to provide annual funding for Maori collectives and trusts. They use the funding to build skills and knowledge and subsequently realise the economic potential of their assets.

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Maori groups are co-funded to work with advisors. Recipients receive business mentoring and advice, plus development and training in management, planning, and other skills.

The Ministry of Social Development’s Work and Income unit is another organisation providing grants.

For those receiving benefits, there is the Business Training and Advice Grant.

This grant allocates funding (up to $1,000 over a year) for the services of an expert to help with business skills training, planning, advice, reporting and more.

The Work and Income department also runs a Self-Employment Start Up Payment for those receiving benefits.

The maximum amount funded is $10,000 over a 52-week period.

This cash contribution can be used for expenses like business equipment, start-up stock, legal costs, website expenses, marketing and printing charges, insurance, and more.

The above is just a selection of the support available to interested business owners in New Zealand. Check out this NZ Government link for further information.