Advancing Regional Innovation Program guidelines
About the program
Advance Queensland’s Advancing Regional Innovation Program aims to turn our regions into hubs for innovation and enterprise. It enables local entrepreneurs, business leaders and key industries to collaborate closely and with government to harness innovation and unlock business potential, strengthen existing industries and prepare regional Queenslanders for jobs of the future.
The program takes a tailored approach to connectng local efforts, harnessing existing strengths and building regional capability. The intention is to build networks of innovative communities across the state that reflect the diversity of Queensland’s regions, draw people together and boost grassroots activities.
The program aims to support the development and increased maturity of regional innovation initiatives. The objectives are to promote:
- Collaboration—encouraging stakeholders to collaborate to build innovation capabilities across their region
- Leverage—ensuring activities have broad support and contributions from multiple partners
- Sustainability—seeding activities, relationships and structures that will extend beyond the funding commitment for this program
- Impact—supporting activities that make a demonstrable difference to innovation-driven opportunities and jobs in regional Queensland.
The program has designated 12 regions each with a $500,000 Advancing Regional Innovation Program.
- Darling Downs and Maranoa
- Far North Queensland
- North Queensland
- Gold Coast
- Wide Bay Burnett
- Ipswich and West Moreton
- Moreton Bay
- Outback Queensland
- Redland and Logan
- Sunshine Coast
- Up to $500,000 (excluding GST) is available for each of the 12 regions.
- Funded projects may span up to 3 years ending in the 2018–2019 financial year.
- Applicants can apply for grants from 1 region only.
- A 1:1 ratio of matched contribution (cash and in-kind) is required.
How many applications can be received from each region?
Regions are strongly encouraged to bring parties together into a unified regional approach, which should include a number of activities to be delivered in multiple locations by various delivery partners. Potential applicants are asked to consider the objectives of the program, and the high weighting in the assessment criteria given to collaboration (40%). It is expected that in most cases, 1 collaborative proposal per region will be successful. However, no more than 2 collaborative proposals will be funded from the total pool of $500,000 per region.
Lead applicant criteria
- The lead applicant is the main driver of the collaborative proposal and must at the time of application:
- have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
- be GST registered
- be based within the Queensland region where the project is proposed.
- The following types of organisations would be considered eligible as a lead applicant:
- incubators, co-working spaces, or other innovation service providers
- councils and regional economic development organisations
- consortiums of private and public organisations
- not-for-profit entities established to deliver the regional innovation project
- publicly funded research organisations.
- The lead applicant must collaborate with at least 5 partner organisations, the majority of which are based in the region, and are separate entities representing a diverse cross section of the innovation ecosystem.
- Demonstrate they and their partners have management and technical capability and professional networks to deliver activities outlined in the collaborative proposal.
- Provide evidence of conditional support from the principal officer of all of the partner organisations.
- Provide a statement of viability from the external accountant or Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or most recent 2 years of accountant prepared financial statements for the lead applicant organisation (including profit and loss statement and balance sheet).
- Have evidence of a total cash and in-kind contribution (from the lead applicant and partner organisations) that is equal to, or greater than, the funding sought from the Advancing Regional Innovation Program over the term of the project (up to 3 years).
State or federal government departments or agencies, government-owned corporations are not eligible to apply for funding from the Advancing Regional Innovation Program as the lead applicant.
Matched funding requirement
Funding from the Advancing Regional Innovation Program will be provided on a co-contribution basis, with lead applicants and their partner organisations contributing at least half of the total project costs (i.e. a 1:1 funding ratio) over the term of the project (up to 3 years).
Lead applicants and their partners contributing matched funding contributions must provide a declaration from their external accountant or CFO outlining their ability to meet the commitment.
The limits for matched contributions over the term of the funding (up to 3 years) are outlined below:
- Cash contributions must be a minimum of 75% of the total matched funding requirement consisting of:
- a minimum of 50% of the total matched contribution requirement must be from nongovernment sources
- a maximum of 25% of the total matched contribution requirement can be from other governments (i.e. federal or local) sources.
- In-kind contributions may total a maximum of 25% of the total matched contribution requirement and must be for eligible costs.
If you intend to apply for the Australian Government’s Incubator Support initiative please refer to the frequently asked questions for more detail.
The panel of assessors in considering any regional proposal may recommend to the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (the department) to vary this contribution requirement based on regional circumstances.
In-kind contributions are non-cash contributions towards the total project value. Lead applicants and their collaborative partners may contribute on a cash and in-kind basis, but no more than 25% of the total matched contribution can be in-kind. In-kind contributions must directly relate to the project activities and applicants must provide details for calculating the dollar value of any in-kind contribution. This calculation must be consistent with current market rates. Examples of in-kind include:
- third party staff salaries
- access to facilities such as office space
- access to services such as coaching and mentoring
- access to resources such as IT equipment and software.
Project funding example
A project totalling $900,000 in eligible project activities could be funded as follows:
- $450,000 grant from the Advancing Regional Innovation Program
- $225,000 cash contribution from non-government sources e.g. local business and industry, corporates, chambers of commerce
- $112,500 grant funding or cash contribution from federal or local government
- $112,500 in-kind contribution from lead applicant and project partners.
Eligible uses of funding
The Advancing Regional Innovation Program will cover costs for activities, which must address the Advancing Regional Innovation Program objectives.
At least 20% of the total value of project activities must be dedicated to 2 or more nominated outreach locations (in addition to the main regional location) where activities will be delivered.
Funding may be used for the following eligible costs to build a package of activities:
- Places and spaces—refurbishing and/or equipping innovation facilities including acquisition of new technologies.
- Connectivity—entrepreneurial and innovation capability and skills programs delivered to startups, business and industry and researchers. Networks and connectivity established within the region, throughout Queensland, Australia and the world, including reasonable travel and accommodation costs.
- Collaboration—tools and platforms to manage and enable collaboration, including video conferencing equipment and installation costs.
- Leadership—salary (including salary related on-costs) up to $50,000 per annum for a Regional Innovation Coordinator acting as a connector for people, places and programs.
- Governance arrangements—innovation audits, collaborative action plan development and reporting support.
- Communities of practice—increased access to innovation mentors and experts (including third party delivery fees) for the total regional innovation ecosystem including start-ups, SMEs, industry, researchers, investors etc.
This is not an exhaustive list of eligible activities and the panel of assessors will make the final decision on whether an activity is eligible.
Ineligible uses of funding
Funding may not be used for the following costs, including, but not limited to:
- capital works and/or physical infrastructure including any buildings
- tenancy including rental or lease of floor space.
How to apply
Applications have now closed.
Pre-registration of proposals
Potential lead applicants are required to pre-register their proposal outline, which identifies 5 or more project partners and briefly describes scope, primary activities and outreach locations (if known at this stage).
Pre-registration is not an application and pre-registered parties are not bound to lodge an application.
Pre-registration is used to connect parties interested in applying as a lead applicant, who may not be aware of broader collaborative opportunities in their region. Therefore, if there are multiple registrations from a single region, the department may contact registered parties to seek a joint application where appropriate.
Assistance in the form of a facilitated engagement workshop is available to assist multiple registrants from a region to join together to develop 1 collaborative action plan and enable a subsequent single application.
Parties notified about their participation in a facilitated engagement workshop cannot apply until after the workshop outcome has been advised.
Collaborative action plan
Successful applicants completed a collaborative action plan (of no more than 10 pages or 3,000 words, with attachments including a project plan and budget) as part of the application and signed by all project partners. This formed the basis for assessment, assisted with longer-term thinking, required stakeholder planning and addressed the following parameters:
- Why = proposed ecosystem | SWOT anaylsis | regional impact | value proposition
- Who = collaboration partners | capabilities | target customers
- How = operating model | revenue streams sustainability | value for money
- What, where and when = budget | proposed activities | locations | timeframes
Following pre-registration, lead applicants lodged 1 of the following:
A full application consisting of:
- a completed online application form, nominating at least 5 partners representing different groups of stakeholders and identifying a minimum of 2 outreach locations, including key partners and supporters
- a collaborative action plan for activities including focus, operating model, forward timetable of activities, resources, cost structures and revenue streams (signed by all partners)
- a project delivery team, including a curriculum vitae (CV) for each key individual
- letters of support from the Chief Executive Officer (or equivalent) of each nominated partner for the project
- letters from the external accountant or CFO of the lead applicant and their partners contributing to the matched funding requirement, outlining their ability to meet the commitment.
A stage application consisting of:
- applying for up to $20,000 (excluding GST) in seed funding by 5pm (AEST), Tuesday 28 February 2017 to assist the lead applicant and its project partners to develop a collaborative action plan and advise on the submission of a subsequent full application.
Applications will be assessed against the following criteria:
Collaboration (weighting 40%)
Applications will need evidence of:
- how you will bring together a diverse range of collaborative partners to build critical mass in your innovation ecosystem, including:
- regional businesses
- industry groups
- research institutes
- service providers
- co-working spaces
- how the lead applicant and partners will engage within and across the region and beyond the region
- active involvement in the collaborative proposal by entrepreneurs and business leaders
- the reach of the collaborative partnership: local, state, national or international
- lead applicant and partner capability and diversity
- each partner’s level of commitment to the project including financial and/or in-kind (evidenced in a letter of support).
Impact (weighting 20%)
Applications need evidence of:
- how the planned program of activities will build and strengthen the regional innovation ecosystem and any gaps being addressed
- how activities will connect and build on the competitive strengths of the region, including links between regional small to medium enterprises, entrepreneurs and key industries in the region and how they will be engaged in the project
- the potential to grow the regional innovation ecosystem over time
- how it will contribute to building a stronger regional economy through:
- increased local entrepreneurship capabilities
- extension and strengthening of networks (intraregion, inter-regional, national, international)
- creation of new knowledge-intensive businesses and jobs
- increased investment in the region
- increased level of regional startup formation and business growth.
Capability (weighting 20%)
Applications need evidence of:
- the key individuals involved with the project outlining their relevant management, business innovation, commercialisation and technical skills along with their contribution to the project
- the partnerships track record of successfully delivering similar projects
- how the partnership will address any current capability gaps
- a clear operating model for delivery of services
- community building activities
- diversity of previous projects
- demonstrated ability to leverage partner contributions
- reputation for regional ecosystem connectivity and success.
Value for money (20%)
Outline what the funding commitment from all of the program partners will deliver in terms of activities and the self-sustainability beyond the funding timeframe.
Where possible, applicants should leverage existing resources and facilities. The Advancing Regional Innovation Program is seeking to amplify, rather than duplicate, existing efforts.
Applications need to provide evidence of the following in relation to the project:
- reach—target number of firms/outreach locations
- regional industry engagement
- economic/social impact on the region
- services delivered
- connections made
- communities of practice set-up
- ability to achieve efficiencies by maximising the impact of activities against their cost of delivery
- funding leverage ratio.
Only applications that are preregistered will be assessed. All applications received are subject to a review process by the department, including an eligibility assessment and a due diligence process.
Eligible applications will be assessed in a competitive, merit based process against the program’s assessment criteria by an assessment panel, including members with relevant industry, business community and regional development or scientific research expertise.
You may be contacted during the assessment process to clarify information provided in the application and/or request further information to enable due diligence and probity assessments.
The panel may provide recommendations on requirements for multiple applications from a single region to join together in a subsequent single application.
Applicants will be notified by email or in writing of the outcome of their application.
During the application process, the assessment panel may direct multiple applicants into a staged application or ask the department to negotiate with applicants to secure a single application.
There is no implicit guarantee of approval at any stage of the application process.
Conditions of funding
- Successful applicants will be required to enter into a legally binding financial incentive agreement with the Queensland Government.
- Please ensure you have read and accepted the terms and conditions of the financial incentive agreement, prior to submitting an application for funding, as they will not be negotiable at the time a funding offer is made.
- The funded project must commence within 90 days after the Queensland Government signs the application approval and be completed within the agreed timeframe (maximum 3 years).
- Only eligible expenditure incurred on or after the project start date can be claimed by successful applicants.
- Any project expenditure made prior to notification of outcomes for the Advancing Regional Innovation Program is made at the project partners own risk—there is no guarantee of funding approval at any stage of the application process.
- Funding recipients must be willing to provide information and be open to attend media/promotion events if requested.
- The successful applicant partners must acknowledge the Queensland Government’s funding in all relevant published material, media releases and public statements.
- Lead applicants must not submit more than 1 application in a given round of funding.
- Project partners must only support 1 application per region—discretionary judgement may be applied in exceptional circumstances to this condition of funding.
- You must advise the department of changes which are likely to impact on your eligibility for the Advancing Regional Innovation Program.
- The department may consult with other Queensland Government agencies, local governments and the Australian Government to confirm information provided in the application.
The Queensland Government collects and collates information from the application form to evaluate applications for the Advancing Regional Innovation Program. Only authorised departmental officers and approved grant assessors have access to this information.
Applicants should note that broad details of successful proposals, agreed outcomes, progress and the level of funding awarded may be published by the Queensland Government. Some information may be used to promote funded projects.
Applicant’s personal information will not be disclosed to any other third party without your consent, unless required by law or for the purposes of Information Privacy Act 2009.
For audit purposes, the Queensland Government is required to retain the applications and other supplied supporting material.
The provisions of the Right to Information Act 2009 apply to documents in the possession of the Queensland Government.