Governments are always looking at having a portfolio of funding options available for businesses, and the R&D Tax Incentive was released four years ago with a specific target of raising New Zealand’s R&D expenditure. Recently, a new funding product has been released to target non-R&D innovation, which we describe below.

Arōhia Innovation Trailblazer - the What, Who, When and How

The Arōhia Innovation Trailblazer (‘Arōhia Grant’) will help with the costs of activities for businesses that are pushing the ball forward in their respective business area or industry. This could involve activities centred around advancing or disrupting various aspects of a business that fall outside the definition of R&D such as:

—    Business model innovation: developing new ways of creating and capturing value, new supplier relationships, or alternative pathways to market.

—    Process innovation: new ways to optimise and improve existing business processes such as supply chain management, customer service or production processes.

—    Marketing innovation: creating new ways to reach customers and engage with people.

—    User research: to test and refine pre-launch solution designs.

There will be two types of grants available:

  1. Seed Grant: available for those who are preparing to apply for the Full Grant but are still gathering evidence. This is a non-contestable grant meaning if you meet the eligibility criteria, you can receive up to $25,000 at 50% co-funding. This grant is now open for applications.
  2. Full Grant: available for those who are engaging in innovative activity or enabling other NZ businesses to participate in innovative activities. Grants up to $4million are available based on 30% co-funding. There will be quarterly application rounds with the opening date of the first funding round soon to be announced.

Eligibility criteria

Callaghan Innovation will assess proposed projects based on the market impact, novelty and potential spill over benefits of the solution. Specific considerations in each of these areas include:

—    Market impact

  • What is the customer need?
  • How does the proposed solution address this?
  • How does it differ from what’s already in the market?

—    Novelty

  • How is the solution a significant enhancement or scaling up from what currently exists?

—    Potential benefits for the innovation ecosystem

  • Creation of a new product category.
  • Introduction of new in-country capability.
  • Attraction of expertise to Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Creation of a more networked ecosystem.

Key considerations

A slightly different feature of the application process for the Arōhia Grant from the RDTI and other Government Grants, is the “pitch” type of process required. After submitting a detailed business case, shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch a presentation to the assessment panel which is constituted of industry professionals.

As with other contestable funds, there is merit in preparing early. With that being said, before jumping into any new grant opportunity, it is helpful for businesses to consider the funding ecosystem holistically and reflect on other grants which may be available that better align with your projects / initiatives, and the grant approval decision timing in respect of your project start date.

Our Innovation and Growth Advisory team is made up of subject matter experts who speak and understand the language of both your technical and finance teams, can help navigate the funding ecosystem, and assist in preparing the grant application.