New Zealand’s Top 5 Public Grants For Startups [2023]

Whether you are an entrepreneur just getting started or a founder looking for free money to grow your startup, government public grants are a great place to start looking. What are New Zealand’s top public grants for startups you should apply for? What are they for? How much can you claim?

In this article we’ll go through the most famous public innovation grants entrepreneurs and startups in New Zealand can apply to.

We will cover:

#1. Project Grants (By Callaghan Innovation)

Project Grants is one of Callaghan Innovation’s 3 startup grant programs. Yet, before we dive into Project Grants, let’s first look at what Callaghan Innovation actually is.

What Is Callaghan Innovation?

Callaghan Innovation is a government agency that supports hi-tech businesses in New Zealand. Their mandate is relatively broad and include, among others, innovation skills learning programs, networking events, access to experts, incubators and accelerators.

Moreover, Callaghan Innovation promotes investment in R&D through 3 separate public grant programs which we discuss in this article.

The Project Grants aims to promote businesses investing in research and development (R&D) projects.

Successful applicants will receive 40% of eligible R&D costs, capped at $375,000 maximum, which they can use to fund these R&D expenses.

Are You Eligible?

To apply, your business must meet the following criteria:

  • Incorporated in New Zealand
  • Has not conducted R&D for more than 2 years

For the full list of eligibility criteria, see here.

#2. Getting Started Grants

Getting Started is another of Callaghan Innovation’s startup grants.

Whilst Project Grants is for startups that recently started investing in R&D, instead this one focuses on early-stage startups that need little funding to start investing in R&D.

Although the grant also allows to fund up to 40% of eligible R&D costs, the total amount is $5,000 only.

The types of projects that the grant can fund include basic prototyping, project planning, technical feasibility or development of IP strategy.

Are You Eligible?

Virtually any business can apply to this grant. Indeed, as long as your company is incorporated in New Zealand, you might be eligible.

new zealand's public grants startups

#3. R&D Tax Incentive

The R&D Tax Incentive (RDTI) is a government tax scheme to promote businesses in New Zealand to invest in R&D. Unlike the 2 grants above, the grant is a tax credit that companies can use to reduce their corporate tax bill at the end of the year.

The amount you can claim as tax credit is calculated by multiplying all your eligible R&D costs by 15%.

Also, the R&D Tax Incentive is all the more attractive for startups as they may be eligible to receive the tax credit in cash instead. Indeed, startups often are loss-making businesses (at least in the first years) and so don’t have to pay any corporate taxes. To figure out if your business can receive the tax incentive in cash instead, have a look at the government’s RDTI FAQ here.

Are You Eligible?

In order to be eligible to the RDTI, your business must meet the following criteria:

  • Perform a core R&D activity in New Zealand (either yourself or through a R&D contractor in New Zealand)
  • Conduct business through a fixed establishment in New Zealand

So, what is a core R&D activity? A core R&D activity must:

  • Be carried in New Zealand
  • Look to solve a scientific or technological uncertainty
  • Follow a systematic approach
  • Aim to create new knowledge and/or improved products, services or processes

For a full definition of a core activity, refer to the guide here.

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#4. Flexi-Wage For Self-Employment

Flexi-Wage For Self-Employment is a slightly different type of startup grant: it’s an income grant for entrepreneurs to help them start their business.

Successful applicants can receive up to $600 per week for 28 weeks, totalling $16,800 non-taxable income.

Are You Eligible?

The Flexi-Wage For Self-Employment grant is only for individuals. In order to be eligible, you must:

  • Be out of work
  • Resident in New Zealand
  • Interested in starting or in the early stages of developing a business
  • Have a business plan

#5. Self-Employment Startup Payment

Self-Employment Startup Payment is another grant for new entrepreneurs starting their business.

Successful applicants can get up to $10,000 grant to pay for startup expenses such as equipment, starting inventory, lease, insurance, materials for prototyping, etc.

Are You Eligible?

The Self-Employment Startup Payment grant is only for individuals. In order to be eligible, you must:

  • Be out of work
  • Resident in New Zealand or a New Zealand citizen
  • Be in the early stages of developing a business
  • Have identified essential startup costs you need funding for
  • Have a business plan

More Resources For Startups In New Zealand

We have lots of free resources for startups in New Zealand. Have a look at our articles below: