Frequently asked questions - Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund

The following frequently asked questions have been created to assist in applying for grants under the Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund.

How much funding is available?

Under the Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund, $2 million is available to fund accelerator and incubator programs that support regional entrepreneurs in new and emerging industries to grow revenue, raise capital funds and create regional jobs.

What support is available to help complete an application?

Project Plan and Project Budget templates are available to help develop your application. You can also contact who can refer you to a local Business Development Manager or Officer who can provide advice on your application.

What is an incubator program?

An incubator program supports entrepreneurs and start-up businesses in their infancy to innovate and grow by providing services such as access to networking, capital raising opportunities, training workshops, access to professional services and mentoring.

What is an accelerator program?

An accelerator program supports entrepreneurs and start-up businesses to improve and maximise growth by providing services such as access to networking, capital raising opportunities, training workshops, access to professional services and mentoring.

What is a start-up?

Under the Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund, a start-up is defined as an innovative, adaptive, early-stage and scalable company with international potential. The following activities and business types are excluded from the definition:

  • establishment of a new division within a company structure, including setting up a new entity within a consolidated group
  • establishment of an Australian branch office by an established multinational enterprise
  • small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which have a proven history and credit history which can be used to access finance. 
Does my program have to align with one of the emerging sectors and future industries as outlined in the refreshed 20-Year Economic Visions for Regional NSW?

All programs funded under the Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund must demonstrate alignment with at least one of the emerging sectors and/or future industries that will drive the diversification of local economies. These are:

Emerging sectors

  • Advanced manufacturing 
  • Renewable energy and gas
  • Technology-enabled primary industries

Future industries

  • Critical minerals
  • Ecotourism (technology-enabled)
  • Recycling and waste management 
  • High-quality food products 
Can the program be located across multiple Local Government Areas?

Yes. If your program will be delivered across multiple LGAs, you must include the location details of each site.

Where must programs be located?

Programs must be based in regional NSW, Newcastle or Wollongong. Programs based in Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Wollondilly, and Hawkesbury Local Government Areas are not eligible.

How much funding can I apply for?

The minimum grant amount per application is $300,000. The maximum grant amount per application is $700,000 (GST exclusive).

Does my business need to be registered for GST?

Yes, to be eligible the business must be registered for Goods and Services Tax. 

Can I make two applications for two separate programs?

Yes, however grant funds are limited and applicants are encouraged to prioritise their applications.

Is a co-contribution required?

No. Applicants are strongly encouraged to make a financial contribution to their projects, but this is not an eligibility requirement.

What is a co-contribution?

Co-contributions could include leveraging in-kind support, local government funds as well as funding from other sources including other NSW or Australian Government programs. Evidence of secured co-contributions will be required as part of an application where relevant.

Does my business need to have public liability insurance?

Yes, to be eligible the business must have at least $20 million public liability insurance or be able to purchase before entering into a Funding Deed if successful.

What kinds of programs are eligible?

A list of example projects and eligibility criteria can be found under the ‘Eligibility’ section on this page and in the Program Guidelines (PDF 380.03KB). Project must align with one of the new and emerging industries of the refreshed 20-year Economic Vision for Regional NSW. If you are unsure if your program meets these requirements, please email or call 1300 679 673 for assistance.

I have already incurred costs for eligible activities. Can these be claimed against the grant?

No. Retrospective funding to cover any project component that is already complete or has commenced before an offer of funding is made by the Department of Regional NSW is ineligible for funding.

Can I include project management costs?

Yes, a total of 10% of the funding request can be used for project management and administration. Please note these costs can only be claimed for the period of the program’s delivery.

Can I claim maintenance costs for my project?


Are costs related to preparing the application eligible for funding?

No. Any costs related to preparing an application are ineligible for funding.

If an office is in a metro location or interstate, yet the net benefits will be realised in a regional NSW area, are you eligible to apply?

No. Funding is only available to organisations based in regional NSW, Wollongong and Newcastle. Applicants based in a metro or interstate location can submit a joint application with an organisation based in regional NSW to deliver the program, provided the lead applicant is an eligible entity. If the application is successful, the lead applicant will enter into the Funding Deed and be ultimately responsible for the project.

Which NSW locations are not eligible for funding?

Projects based in Greater Sydney. Greater Sydney includes the Blue Mountains, Wollondilly and Hawkesbury Local Government Areas (LGAs). 

How detailed does my program project plan and budget need to be?

The Project Plan (XLSX 18.7KB) must detail the key activities that will be delivered to entrepreneurs and start-ups, including key milestones, associated tasks, and performance measures on how they will be achieved. The Project Budget (XLSX 704.64KB) must clearly outline the total cost of each key program activity and associated tasks, and how the cost will be funded. For example, any in-kind contributions or funding from other sources including other NSW or Australian Government programs.

How do I demonstrate my business has the skills and capacity to deliver the program?

Applicants should provide information on any previous programs undertaken, or any relevant experience in growing the business. Tell us about the experience and skills of key staff, partners or consultants supporting the delivery of the program and attach evidence of this to your application.

How are the outcomes of a program measured?

Successful applicants will be required to meet with DRNSW’s Evaluation Team prior to the program commencing to determine, using an internal outcome framework, the extent to which their program will contribute to the objectives of the fund. This will include identifying the expected program outcomes, indicators and measures.

How will the grant funds be paid? On a milestone basis or on completion of project?

There will be performance-based milestone payments defined in a Funding Deed. Typically, there will be a share of the grant paid up front with subsequent payments based on project and/or employment creation milestones. If applicable, applicants that have nominated a co-contribution are expected to have access to this through the delivery of the program, as co-contribution to costs incurred will need to be spent when claiming milestone payments.

What is a publicly funded research organisation?

All higher education providers listed at Table A and Table B of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (Cth) and corporate Commonwealth entities, and State and Territory business enterprises which undertake publicly funded research.

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