WA’s $100m investment fund open for business

Brandon How

The Western Australian government has launched its $100 million Investment Attraction Fund and opened applications for the Innovation Booster Grant program.

The $100 million fund was first announced in last year’s budget, with $16.7 million dedicated to the New Industries Fund (NIF) over four years. The NIF targets new and emerging industries. A further $4 million was set aside for the space industry and will also be distributed over four years.

Under the NIF, the Innovation Booster Grant program provides funding of up to $20,000 to small to medium sized businesses to help commercialise their products. Recipients must co-invest at a rate of 20:80.

Investment Attraction Fund (IAF) applicants can apply up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the project costs, or a maximum of $5 million.

Firms can apply for matched grants of up to $5 million

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the fund is well placed to boost the state’s economy as it emerges from the impacts of COVID-19.

“The Government’s management of Covid-19 has been world-leading, and has helped keep our state’s economy strong and stable. There is no better or safer place to do business than in Western Australia,” Premier McGowan said.

“As Western Australia and the world reconnects, it’s essential that we capitalise on new opportunities. That’s why we are committing $100 million to helping the industries of the future grow and succeed in our state.”

The IAF prioritises sectors and cross-sector activities outlined in Diversify WA, the state’s economic development framework. This includes support for energy, defence industries, METS, space industries, health and medical life sciences, and primary industries, as well as support for education and creative industries.

Eligible cross-sector activities include supply chain development, advanced manufacturing, science, innovation and technology,  and environmental, social and governance frameworks. The activities must also be able to create new jobs without “adversely affecting the existing workforce”.

Expression of interest outcomes will be issued in July 2022 with shortlisted firms then invited to make a full application.

Minister of State Development, Jobs and Trade Roger Cook has the power to alter the allocation process if they wish.

Mr Cook said the IAF will build on the existing strengths of the WA economy and transform it into a hub for emerging industries.

“This is a great initiative to drive investment and diversification of the WA economy,” Mr Cook said.

“The Investment Attraction Fund has been established to make sure we capitalise on our comparative advantages, build upon our thriving innovation ecosystem and help industry deliver the jobs of the future for Western Australians.”

Grants assessments will be carried out by a governance board of senior public servants alongside industry representatives. Representing industry are health insurance provider HBF’s chief executive officer John Van Der Wielen,   principal consultant at mining consultancy CSA Global Ivy Chen, and Larry Lopez, who is a partner of Australian Venture Consultants.

The NIF supports innovation hubs, grants and awards, in addition to the X-TEND program, which supports innovator and investor education programs. It is also responsible for administering the IBG program which was initially established as the Innovation Vouchers Program in 2011.

The IAF also supports the state’s wider Supply Chain Development Plan 2021-22 to integrate WA businesses global supply chains as well as to diversify local supply chains.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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