The Federal Government’s innovation statement, released on 7 December 2015, has announced Government-funded grants that will back business investments and projects. The funding programs will assist in areas of Research and Development, Business Improvement and Growth, Accelerated Commercialisation Activities and Marketing and Commercialisation.

One particular funding program that may be of interest to POF’s Victorian-based automotive clients is the Local Industry Fund for Transition (LIFT). This initiative aims to support business investment that will lead directly to new sustainable jobs. As part of the Victorian Government’s Automotive Transition Plan, LIFT works towards helping businesses in the automotive parts and related supply chain industries find new markets within Australia and on a global scale, assist automotive industry workers to find new jobs and support economic development in the Victorian regions most affected by the closure of the three major car manufacturers; Ford, Holden and Toyota. LIFT comprises four sub-funds that cover four main geographical areas including Geelong, North Melbourne, South East Melbourne and West Melbourne.

The grant is available only to businesses that meet the specific criteria for purpose and expenditure. Applications are sought from companies investing in projects that will create new and sustainable jobs in one of the four identified geographical areas. Specifically, the projects must make a significant contribution to the local economy, involve at least $200,000 in eligible expenditure and cannot involve the movement of business activity from other areas of Victoria. The program provides grants of up to 25 per cent of eligible project expenditure, with a maximum grant of $2 million. Applicants need to outline the expected returns from the investment, including jobs and other economic benefits. Prospects for eligible project expenditure may include direct labour costs of employees, equipment purchases, new building constructions or extensions and other associated project management costs.