PART 1: How to get started
Cost of doing business
The impacts of COVID-19 have been undeniable as the critical factor in pushing Australian companies towards international expansion over the past 2-3 years. According to the Global Empowerment Study commissioned by Amazon Australia, business owners intend on expanding globally for three key reasons:
- increase revenue (49%),
- expand their customer base (43%), and
- future proof their business (28%).
Furthermore, three out of four Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with existing international footprints cite the impact of COVID-19 as a factor for their consideration of furthering their global push, with 96% not having any regrets of considering global expansion, and over 80% wishing they’d started this journey sooner.
However, despite this resounding success, the study also found that a quarter of SMEs admitted to feeling overwhelmed about overseas expansion, with one in five being unsure where to begin. More than one in four SMEs felt they didn’t have the right tools, support, or knowledge to expand globally on their own or the know-how to find cost-effective solutions to handle shipping and fulfillment.
Why should your company go global?
In our increasingly digitised and interconnected world, most items are available at the single click of a button. Consumerism is rampant, SMEs cannot afford not to go global – and doing this with a partner may seem a lot less frightening than taking all the risk alone. In fact, international expansion is often difficult without collaboration, whether this is an investor, partner, or a support network, as the sum of the partnership is worth more than what each individual organisation can achieve on its own.
Donors and grant makers know this and will often stipulate a partnership requirement as part of their eligibility criteria when opening a ‘Call for Proposals’ on a grant program. However, finding a partner can often be a difficult, lengthy, and frustrating endeavor, especially when applying for funding on a global scale.
If you have been asking yourself the question on whether you should be taking your company or project to the next level but are not quite sure where to start – keep reading!! We aim to provide some of the best resources and strategies on finding international partnerships, initiating them, and seeing them through to fruition. Further in this article and our subsequent editions, you will find resources to support collaborative initiatives for Start-ups and innovators, SME’s, research organisations and think tanks, as well as not-for-profits, and corporations.
Why does the Australian Government support international partnerships and collaborations?
The promotion of Australia and its interests though commerce or collaboration initiatives strengthens our strategic and political ties across the world. By helping build stronger communities and more stable government, Australia improves its own economic and security interests. This takes the form of international collaboration initiatives, such as Official Development Assistance (ODA), Research and Development partnerships, and product commercialisation and delivery to those nations. Additionally, this is underpinned by the promotion of aid for trade, infrastructure development, education, food security, and leveraging private sector finance in conjunction with other nations across the globe.
This is supported by various state-based and Federal agencies, which manage numerous programs, grants, awards, networking events, and more. These resources best align themselves to entities or industries.
How to start?
There is no hard or fast rule on how to start an international collaboration, and better yet find a grant program to support it, so we have made a list of the Federal and State resources available for you, including support mechanisms, networks, and grants to promote collaboration and expansion into the global market. Additionally, many of the suggested programs offer mentorship and resources to support the business network.
Resources for Innovators and Start-ups
The Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) aims to connect businesses, universities, and research institutions to support a range of innovators and early-stage start-ups with business connections, advice, workshops, and funding programs. Each year, the CBRIN has more than 10,000 visitors across 250 events, offering support to small businesses with high growth potential. This includes monthly networking events and Female Founders events to engage entrepreneurs across Australia. Programs to be on the lookout for:
- Griffin Accelerator – provides a $25,000 seed investment for start-ups as well as 3 months of intensive business support.
- Kiln incubator – entitles the winner access to mentors, experts and advisors who will support the start-ups through growth and scaling opportunities.
- Innovation Connect grants – support innovators and start-ups with matched funding (co-contribution required) grants of $10,000 to $30,000. This grant is also applicable to entrepreneurs.
- Corporate Innovation Programme – entails a half-day to multi-day events to find new solutions for products collaboratively.
For SMEs, Corporations, and Not-for-Profits
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) promotes and protects Australia’s international interests to support its security and prosperity. This is achieved through several programs including:
- Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants Program supports the economic and social recovery efforts of Australia’ creative industries to provide funding for projects that promote Australia’s cultural and creative industries overseas. This is a multi-year program that awards between $10,000 to$60,000 for up to three years.
- Foundations, councils, and institutes page provides information on the cultural councils of Australia’s strategic and commercial partners. The individual pages provide grant programs relevant for nation. These range anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000.
- AsiaLink Business – assists businesses at all stages to seize opportunities in the Asian and Indo-Pacific markets. This includes extensive market research and business support, practical training programs, advisory services, and events to enable businesses to enter and grow with Asia.
- AusConnect – is a platform intended to connect businesses and individuals with international organisations by promoting jobs, tenders, and grants from other nations.
- AusTender provides a centralised publication of Australian Government business opportunities, annual procurement plans, and contracts awarded.
The Australian Trade and Investment Commission is the Australian Government’s international trade promotion and investment attraction agency. They provide advice and assistance, as well as funding opportunities for exports and trade development. Some export grants include:
- Export Market Development Grant program helps Australian businesses grow their exports in the intentional market. This grant encourages small to medium enterprises to market and promotes their goods and services globally. This is a multi-year grant up to 3 years, and awards 3 different grants based on the applicant’s export business maturity. These range between $40,000 to $150,000. Applications are open between 31 May and 05 July 22.
For Research, Science, and Technology initiatives
The Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources has developed several initiatives to promote research and development of organisations and universities, technology development and the implementation of scientific solutions to enhance international collaboration. Programs and initiatives to stay abreast of:
The Global Science and Technology Diplomacy Fund was announced as part of the 2021-22 Budget. The fund supports strategically important science and technology collaborations with global partners. This program will underpin and consolidate the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund and the Australia-China Science and Research Fund. Additionally, this Fund provides grant programs in support of these initiatives.
Additional resources to keep in mind to are the Partnering with Australia on Innovation, Science, and Research booklet, outlining some of the opportunities for international organisations and individuals to partner with Australia on cutting-edge innovation, science, and research.
Additionally, every country has a range of intermediary organisations specialising in finding partners for a collaborative project, often using their extensive business network to align different stakeholders. It is also common for governments, industry partners, and universities to have an open invite for international collaboration. This is usually advertised on the relevant entity website.
Before considering an international collaboration, decide for yourself if your company is ready for expansion overseas, and what you want to achieve by forming the partnership. Think about how your project would benefit from a collaborative approach, and what each party could bring to the table. Finally, do not miss out on the next issue where we discuss Part 2: ‘How to find a partner and establish the partnership’.
For other article editions, please check out our other FUNDED editions.