When fourth-generation farmer Naomi Stuart hit on a new and better way to process payments for crops – a market worth an estimated $2.1 billion each year in Australia – she found financial support for her idea from an unlikely source: the NSW Government.
“A combination of word-of-mouth referrals and my own research led me to Jobs for NSW", says Naomi, who secured a $25,000 Minimum Viable Product (MVP) grant to further develop her secure online payment platform, FARMPay.
The technology, which Naomi created from her base in Wagga Wagga in the NSW Riverina, enables real-time payment and data transfer for grain sales, putting an end to the costly delays and inefficiencies of manual processing.
The MVP grant, together with a seed investment, “ultimately funded the platform’s design, development and pilot,” she says.
Startup founders might be surprised to learn the NSW Government, through Jobs for NSW, offers up to $25,000 to fast-track the creation of a MVP.
In fact, there are a range of grants and loans on offer for NSW businesses at all stages of development. The reason? Early stage financial support translates into future business success and subsequent job creation – and that is what Jobs for NSW is all about, creating new jobs for the future.
"As a government we want to be doing everything we can to create the right environment for people to have the confidence to launch a startup, and the support they need to give it the best chance of success," says Deputy Premier and Minister for Small Business John Barilaro.
Whether you’re a pre-revenue startup looking to progress from proof of concept to a MVP, an emerging business just starting to gain traction, or a fast-growing business ready to export, there are options for you.
Sydney-based med-tech company, Opus Medical, have benefitted from a Building Partnerships grant.
Designed to help revenue-generating technology startups become the high-growth, job-creating businesses of tomorrow, this Jobs for NSW grant enables businesses to complete pilot projects that will help get their product or service to market and establish key accounts.
It comes with conditions – the solution must use an enabling technology to address a compelling industry need or market gap – but the grant delivers up to 35% of approved project costs, up to a maximum of $100,000.
Dr Sean Pollock and Professor Paul Keall, co-founders of Opus Medical, used their grant to upgrade the prototype of their Breathe Well device, which uses motion sensor cameras to detect breathing patterns in cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy, and helps them to self-regulate their breath so a moving tumour can be more accurately targeted.
“Guiding the patient to breathe assists with more accurate imaging and treatment, and less damage to the nearby healthy tissues,” explains Dr Pollock. “Current respiratory devices in the market monitor patient breathing motion, but they don’t directly address the problem of unstable breathing.”
Before applying for the grant, Breathe Well had passed through business incubator and accelerator programs (including Genesis and Incubate), participated in the NSW Health Medical Device Commercialisation Training Program and the 1776 Challenge Cup, and conducted in-clinic studies with a range of public and private hospital radiation oncology centres.
“Completion of the prototype allowed us to get direct product feedback and fine-tune our technology in order to meet our customers’ needs,” says Dr Pollock. “Our partnered hospitals will be the first adopters of the commercialised device. We will then look at expanding our team, boosting sales nationally and exploring international certification, which would be a big milestone for us.”
Opus Medical was awarded a subsequent grant of $1.3 million from the NSW Health Medical Devices Fund, which has been used to employ more staff and kickstart operations within Australia.
Navigating the complexities of government funding can be challenging, but many of the grants and loans through Jobs for NSW have a simple, online application process that business founders can complete themselves (no need to outsource to a pro). You can also contact us directly with questions or concerns.
The effort can be worth it – just ask Naomi.
“We’re seeing that it’s possible to have a successful startup in a regional location,” she says. “The growth of our team has been great and we’ve been able to engage with local talent – from software developers and a chief technology officer with relevant international startup experience, through to our advisory committee.”
This year, FARMPay has started mapping the livestock supply chain and plans to expand its platform into additional commodities. Part of Cicada Innovations’ specialised GrowLabs program, which focuses on AgTech commercialisation, Naomi is also exploring international pilot opportunities and sees huge potential in developing countries.
“As part of my journey, I hope to inspire other regional entrepreneurs to take the step, solve a problem and apply to Jobs for NSW,” she says.
For more information on NSW Government programs, grants and initiatives that assist startups, visit Jobs for NSW