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Agriculture Innovation Center Grant Program


The purpose of the Agriculture Innovation Center Grant Program is to establish and operate Agriculture Innovation Centers that provide technical and business development assistance to agricultural producers seeking to engage in the marketing or the production of Value-Added products. This program supports Rural Development’s mission of improving the quality of life for rural Americans and commitment to directing resources to those who most need them.

Grants and matching funds may be used to operate an Agriculture Innovation Center and to provide the following services to agricultural producers:

  • Consulting services for legal, accounting and technical services to be used by the recipient in establishing and operating a Center
  • Hiring employees for the Center
  • Making of matching grants to agricultural producers
  • Applied research
  • Legal services
  • Technical assistance to agricultural producers, including engineering services, scale production assessments, market planning and development, business planning, and other advisory services

Eligible Applicants

Eligible applicants include non-profit and for-profit corporations, public bodies, and institutions of higher education.

Available Funding

The program funding is $3.5 million, with a maximum grant amount of $1,000,000.

Matching Funds Requirement

Matching funds are required for at least one-third of the total project budget.

For more information on your business’s eligibility, contact us here

Rural Business Enterprise Grant


The Rural Business Development Grant Program is established by the state’s USDA Rural Development offices. The program is encompassed under two categories:

  1. Enterprise Grants: enterprise grants provide training and technical assistance.  These provide valuable resources on how to run a business;
  2. Opportunity Grants: opportunity grants seek out and identify business opportunities.


Entities that fall under the “rural” criteria are eligible. Eligibility can be checked using the USDA eligibility tool.

Available Funding

There is $35 million available in the rural business development grant program in 2019.

More information on the grant can be found here .

Alternatively, contact us today to see if your business is eligible.

Small Business Technology Transfer


The Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) explored opportunities within the federal R&D projects. This program requires a small business to work in partnership with a nonprofit research institution in Phase 1 and 2. The aim of this program is the unite the commercialization of innovation and the science and research behind it.

The STTR is a three-phased program:

  • Phase 1: Phase 1 is to establish the technical merit and to assess the compensation potential. The proposed R&D activity is assessed for it’s eligibility and performance of the small business prior to providing further financial assistance in Phase 2. Phase 1 normally does not exceed a total value of $150,000 in total over a 1 year period;
  • Phase 2: Phase 2 is an extension of Phase 1 and is awarded to encourage the project to develop further. Funding is based on the results achieved in Phase 1. Only applicants eligible for Phase 1 are considered for Phase 2. The total award typically does not exceed $1,000,000 total over a 2 year period;
  • Phase 3: Phase 3 is not monetarily funded. The objective is where appropriate to pursue commercialization for eligible projects. Such activities may include seeking out federal production contraction, processes or uses by the US Government.


Small domestic businesses that engage in eligible federal research and development projects that may have commercialization value.

Available Funding 

The award for Phase 1 is up to $150,000 in total over a 6 months period for eligible applicants. The award for Phase 2 is up to $1,000,000 over a 2 year period. The dollar amounts for the awards are adjusted for inflation. More information is available on the STTR website.

For more information on your business’s eligibility, contact us here.

Rural Energy for America Program


The Rural Energy for America Program is a program that incentivizes grants to producers within the agricultural and rural small businesses to invest and develop renewable energy systems.

This program aims at promoting a more efficient and sustainable operations targeted at farmers and ranchers that run small businesses.

The program offers two types of assistance:

  • Incentives and loans to eligible applicants for energy efficiency improvements and purchase of renewable energy systems (i.e. solar panels);
  • Incentives to service providers that work with farmers and small rural businesses for renewable energy planning and development.


To be eligible for this program applicants must:

  • Have at least 50% of their gross income derived from agricultural operations;
  • Be a small business in an eligible rural area

Eligible rural areas are considered:

  • An area outside of a city or town with a population of less than 50,000;
  • Agricultural producers can be from a rural or non- rural area;
  • Eligible business addresses can be checked here.

Available funding:

  • Loans up to 75% of the total cost of the eligible project;
  • Grants up to 25% of the total cost of the eligible project;
  • Combination of loan and grant of up to 75% od the total cost incurred by the eligible project.

To find out whether your business is eligible contact us here.


Small Business Innovation Research Program


The Small Business Innovation Research Program aims to encourage domestic small businesses to engage in R&D activities that have the potential for commercialization. This program aims to promote scientific and technological innovation through incentives for eligible projects.

The program is structured in three phases:

  1. Phase 1 is to establish the technical merit, evaluate the feasibility of the project and commercial potential. The award for Phase 1 normally does not exceed $150,000 in total over a 6 months period;
  2. Phase 2 is to continue and develop the project in Phase 1 further. Funding depends on the success and results achieved in Phase 1. This award is only eligible for Phase 1 awardees. The total cost normally does not exceed $1,000,000 over a 2 year period;
  3. Phase 3 is to pursue the commercialization of a successful R&D project. There is no funding from the Small Business Innovation Research Program for Phase 3 however other federal agencies may have incentives.  Phase 3 may involve activities such as production contraction or subsequent follow-ups on the project developed in Phase 1 &2.


Small domestic businesses that engage in eligible federal research and development projects that may have commercialization value.

Available Funding

The award for Phase 1 is up to $150,000 in total over a 6 months period for eligible applicants. The award for Phase 2 is up to $1,000,000 over a 2 year period. The dollar amounts for the awards are adjusted for inflation. More information is available on the SBIR website.

For more information on your business’s eligibility, contact us here.

COVID-19’s Impact on R&D Spending

Key global innovation trends have been presented in the Global Innovation Index 2020 released in September this year. This report launched in 2007 and is published by the World Intellectual Property Organization, INSEAD and Cornell University, ranking over 130 economies. These reports are helpful in forming an outlook for the impact of COVID-19 on R&D spending, particularly when compared to GFC recovery from 2009.

Despite the difficult economy, certain industries have been increasing their R&D spending, for instance software and hardware companies, who accounted for around 38 percent of total business R&D spending in 2018-19. Increased digitisation will be essential during the pandemic as lockdowns are enforced and physical movement is restricted. The healthcare industry are also increasing their R&D efforts, which have been critical during the pandemic in terms of vaccine development and more.

Industries that have not held up so well include real estate, household goods, travel and leisure and professional services. While these areas tend to have a lower amount of R&D in general, innovation and digitisation will be required to recover from the crisis.

Government stimulus packages for innovation were vital to stimulating R&D and helping economies recover faster in 2009 and this will be the case again now. Governments are already implementing measures including France’s US$8.4 billion digital investment and $13 billion R&D stimulus packages and Germany’s $58.8 billion package for future-focused technologies. Incentives such as these, along with temporary measures such as accelerating R&D tax credit payments, will be key to economic recovery and growth in future years.

Source: Strategy+Business

AusIndustry’s Guide to Interpretation Draft Refreshed

AusIndustry’s Guide to Interpretation was first published in January 2016, detailing the way that AusIndustry interprets the definition of “R&D activities” as defined in the legislation.

The Guide to Interpretation presents AusIndustry’s position on complex issues including assessing the purpose of R&D Activities and framing what is not considered a Core R&D Activity.

As part of the new R&D Tax Incentive programme Integrity Framework announced by AusIndustry in late 2019, it was noted that the department would re-develop R&D Tax Incentive program guidance to help businesses claim the incentive correctly.

Drafts of the refreshed Guide to Interpretation document have been published recently requesting feedback via an online survey.

Potential R&D Tax Changes To Apply Retrospectively for FY20

In December 2019, the government re-introduced a bill to reform the R&D Tax Incentive. The media has reported this week that if the government is successful in passing proposed changes to the R&D Tax Incentive, they would seek that the law be enacted more than 12 months retrospectively: applying 1 July 2019 for the FY20 period.

The revelations arise from statements by ATO and ISA officials to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee during the hearings into the review of the proposed R&D Tax Incentive Reforms.

The bill has been uniformly condemned by Industry Groups and R&D Tax Professionals.

It was however thought that if the bill were to be passed as law, the changes would be more likely to apply for the FY21 period (rather than FY20 as proposed).

Given the widespread financial hardship business is currently facing, many companies have spent recent weeks compiling their FY20 R&D Claims to best ensure that they are able to lodge shortly after the opening of registrations on 1 July 2020. The prospect of a retrospective passing of the proposed R&D Tax Reforms for FY20 is alarming, and exposes companies to undue uncertainty and administrative burden in the event that company tax return amendments for previously assessed FY20 claims are required.

AusIndustry Announce Lodgement Concession on Advance and Overseas Finding Applications

Companies seeking to claim overseas expenditure, or seeking an advance determination on eligibility of a project must lodge a finding Application period to the end of the financial year in which the activity is first conducted (i.e. 30 June for activities in FY20).

During a finding process, AusIndustry provides a binding determination of eligibility, and an enormous amount of work must be put into such applications, including the collation of a vast amount of supporting evidence.

There is no provision with the relevant legislation and guidelines allowing for extensions to be granted for finding applications, and specifically, Part 3 of the IR&D Decision Making Principals do not apply to Advance and Overseas Findings.

This means that such findings must be submitted by 30 June.

AusIndustry have however announced this week that due to the COVID-19 disruptions they will accept a ‘provisional’ Advance or Overseas Finding application for the YE 30 June 2020, containing a lower amount of information and supporting evidence than would normally be required.

The minimum details required in a provisional Advance or Overseas Finding application are:

  • Company contact details;
  • Descriptive name/title of claimed R&D activities.

Companies submitting a provisional Advance or Overseas Finding application, must then submit the balance of information and supporting evidence by 30 September 2020.

Companies will not be able to claim any overseas R&D Expenditure in FY20 until such time as AusIndustry receive all relevant information for the finding application, complete their assessment, and issue a positive finding.

More information is available here.

COVID-19 Update

Our thoughts are with those who are directly impacted by the Coronavirus crisis.

The government has announced a wide variety of stimulus measures to assist business cope with the Coronavirus situation.

The stimulus offered is from multiple levels of government and for multiple purposes.

A summary of the measures is available here.

AusGrant has taken measures to protect our staff and clients, and will be fully functional throughout this crisis to support the needs of our stakeholders.

The deadline for R&D Applications is specified in the INDUSTRY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ACT 1986 as 10 months after the end of an income year. The statutory deadline for companies to register R&D activities conducted during the year ended 30 June 2019 (i.e. last financial year) is therefore 30 April 2020.

AusIndustry have recently announced that:

  • If a company’s R&D application for the YE 30 June 2019 income year cannot be made by the application deadline (30 April 2020) due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, AusIndustry will allow the application to be made by 30 September 2020, without needing to request an extension;
  • If a company’s R&D application for the YE 30 June 2019 is unable to be lodged by 30 September 2020, the company may request a formal extension of time;
  • A company’s registration number is still required when lodging the R&D Schedule with the ATO;

This means that if a company seeks to derive their tax benefit arising from their claim for YE 30 June 2019 (by way of a cash refund or a reduction in balance of tax liability) in the immediate term, they must still first register the R&D Activities with AusIndustry, and would not be able to defer registration until September.

Where it is possible to do so, we would still recommend that companies still aim to lodge the R&D Applications for the YE 30 June 2019 ASAP, so as to not defer any R&D Tax benefit that may be accrued to the company for this period.

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