Australia needs outstanding talent in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to support our national innovation boom, economic growth, and our global relevance, contributions and competitiveness. We’re underrepresented for women in STEM. Only one in four IT graduates, less than one in 10 engineering graduates, and less than one in five senior STEM researchers are female. We need to address this by encouraging female participation and gender equity in STEM courses, organisations and industries.

Does your business support females in STEM and Entrepreneurship? If so, you could be eligible for a grant of up to $250,000. On August 19 2016, the Federal Government launched a new programme called the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship Programme, committing $8 million to support women in STEM and Entrepreneurship. The programme will run for four years from 2016/7 to 2019/20.

What is the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship Programme?

The Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship Programme provides funding for activities that encourage girls and women to participate in STEM education and careers, and in the broader innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The programme:

  • aims to remove barriers that stop women entering STEM fields and taking part in STEM education, careers and entrepreneurial activities;
  • provides government funding for businesses, not-for-profit organisations and research organisations that encourage females in STEM and entrepreneurship. This assistance includes to help develop innovation and entrepreneurial skills and help build professional networks; and
  • provides funding for identifying and publicising STEM role models to inspire students and graduates. This includes role models in science and research, entrepreneurship and corporate leadership.

The grants range from $5,000 to $250,000 per project. There are expected to be two application rounds per year. This first round closes on 6 October 2016.

Eligibility Process

In your application, you need to confirm that your business or organisation can complete the project and meet the costs of the project not covered by grant funding if your application is successful.

To be eligible, applicants need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN) and be either:

  • an Australian incorporated entity – for example, a company or corporate trustee on behalf of a trust;
  • a not-for-profit organisation; or
  • a publically funded research organisation (PFRO).

To be eligible for funding, your project must:

  • set out the eligible activities and eligible expenditure;
  • involve spending at least $5,000 in total;
  • be completed in 24 months or less; and
  • aim to address inequality and discrimination for girls and women in STEM and entrepreneurship by:
    • encouraging and increasing awareness for girls and women to participate in STEM and/or entrepreneurship education and careers;
    • increasing participation of girls and women in innovative businesses, startups and entrepreneurial activities and careers; or
    • stimulating an increase in the number of women in senior leadership.

A project can be eligible if it assists children or adults.

Types of Projects and Activities

Activities must directly relate to the project and can include:

  • developing and delivering workshops, conferences, networking events and other forums;
  • developing and delivering education and professional development courses and training;
  • developing and distributing educational materials;
  • developing and delivering change management programmes and industry transformation activities; and
  • research activities provided they are part of and directly in support of the activities listed above.

Trusts are not eligible to apply. However, a corporate trustee may apply on behalf of a trust.

Can I Collaborate and Be Part of a Joint Application?

Yes, joint applications from groups of organisations are acceptable. You need to nominate an eligible principal applicant who will be the main driver of the project. The principal applicant needs to fit the eligibility criteria.

Your business or organisation can be involved in multiple applications, as long as your business or organisation is only the principal applicant on one application per application round. Note that if you want to submit multiple applications, you can only submit a maximum of one application in each application round as the principal applicant.

Eligibility for Sole Traders

If you are interested in applying but do not have an ABN, you can obtain one for free, online, through the Australian Business Register website.

If you are interested in applying but are currently operating as a sole trader, it is possible to incorporate a company and/or trust with corporate trustee within one business day if requires. Please speak to a lawyer about the legal implications of incorporating a company, including director’s duties if you are a director. There are also tax and accounting considerations, including if you transfer business assets from your sole trader business to a company or trust. Please speak to an accountant or adviser about tax implications.

How Do I Apply?

Your application needs to address the following:

  • The expected impact and benefits of the project (40 points of 100);
  • Your demonstrated capacity and capability to carry out the project (40 points of 100); and
  • The value for money that your project offers (20 points of 100).

To succeed your applicant needs to score highly on all three criteria. You need to show your expertise to execute the project successfully, including your knowledge and your experience. You need to explain the impact of your project. For example, how you will reach a group that does not yet have STEM and entrepreneurship support? How will you deliver services in a higher-quality, more efficient manner?

Before applying you should read and understand the:

  • Programme Guidelines;
  • The online application form, and
  • The grant agreement.

How Will the Funding be Paid?

Successful applicants must enter into a grant agreement with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. The grant agreement is a legally binding agreement. It will describe the project and specify the payment schedule and milestones necessary to receive payments.

For grants up to $50,000: The Department will pay the entire grant amount, once a grant agreement is signed by both parties.

For grants over $50,000: The Department will make an initial payment of up to 50% of the grant once the grant agreement is signed. The Department will make subsequent payments based on your progress reports. 10% of the total grant funding is set aside for the final payment; this is payable when the business, not-for-profit organisation or research organisation submits a satisfactory final report.

Because of the different payment methods and the difference between the perceived level of risk for small grants versus larger grants, there are two different types of a grant agreement. Your grant agreement will provide more details about how and when you will receive payments.

Further Information

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has comprehensive documents on its website including Programme Guidelines and a Fact Sheet.  The Department’s website also includes a template Grant Agreement for grants up to $50,000 and grants over $50,000.

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