Frequently asked questions

What is the TCF Strategic Capability Program (TCF SCP)?

The TCF SCP funds strategic projects that build innovative capability across TCF industries. By supporting innovation, the program aims to assist the growth and development of highly creative, sustainable and internationally competitive TCF industries. The program is a competitive, merit-based grants program and is open to any eligible TCF business(applying individually or on behalf of a consortium), or a "prescribed entity" applying on behalf of a consortium that includes an eligible TCF business.

What funding is available?

The TCF SCP was allocated $35 million over five years from 2010-11 to 2014-15. The minimum project budget (comprised of eligible expenditure only) is $500,000. This includes the Australian Government's contribution of one dollar for every dollar contributed by grantees. In effect, this means the minimum grant size is $250,000 (i.e. for a project with a total budget of $500,000 in eligible expenditure). Limits to maximum grant amounts are set by the available funding in each annual round of the program, with grants allocated on merit. See also Can my project take longer than one year?

Who can apply and what is a "prescribed entity"?

The TCF SCP is open to any eligible TCF business (applying individually or on behalf of a consortium), or a "prescribed entity" applying on behalf of a consortium that includes an eligible TCF business. An eligible TCF business is defined in the TCF Post-2005 Strategic Investment Program (SIP).
Prescribed entities under this program are the:

  • Australian Association of Leather Industries;
  • Carpet Institute of Australia Ltd;
  • Council of Textile and Fashion Industries Australia Ltd;
  • Footwear Manufacturers Association of Australia Inc;
  • Technical Textiles and Non-Woven Association Inc.; and
  • Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia.

What is a competitive merit-based program?

Submitting an application to a competitive, merit-based program is similar in concept to applying for a job, i.e. the quality and number of other applications will directly impact on your chances of being offered a grant. Programs such as SIP are entitlement programs, not competitive programs. Under an entitlement program, if an applicant is eligible under the legislation they can expect to receive assistance in support of eligible activities. A competitive merit-based program has an additional step where merit criteria are applied to the applications which are then ranked. This means that being eligible to apply for TCF SCP funding entitles you to compete for funding but does not mean you will receive a grant.

I have had Post-2005 Strategic Investment Program (SIP) projects funded to help my business become more innovative; will the same kind of projects be considered innovative under the TCF SCP?

The TCF SCP and SIP schemes are quite different programs and have different objectives. Applications that were funded as an entitlement under SIP in support of innovation and investment may not be competitive under the merit-based application process applied to TCF SCP grants. Applicants are strongly encouraged to develop projects that address the TCF SCP merit criteria and are tailored to this program's objectives. See the TCF SCP Customer Information Guide for more information.

What is the difference between the TCF SCP and the Clothing and Household Textile (Building Innovative Capability) Scheme (BIC)?

The BIC Scheme is an entitlement program, whereas the TCF SCP is a competitive, merit-based program. Under an entitlement program, if the applicant is undertaking eligible activities, then they can expect to receive a grant for eligible expenditure incurred. A competitive merit-based program has an additional step where merit criteria are applied to the applications, which are then compared and ranked. This means that being eligible to apply for TCF SCP funding entitles you to compete for funding but does not mean you will receive a grant.

Another difference is that the TCF SCP allows a wider range of TCF businesses to compete for grants, whereas the BIC scheme has a focus on clothing and household textiles. The TCF SCP also provides for 'prescribed entities' to apply on behalf of a consortium that includes an eligible TCF business. For more information about the BIC scheme and the TCF SCP go to www.ausindustry.gov.au.

Can I apply for the TCF SCP and the new BIC Program?

Yes, provided you meet the eligibility criteria for both programs you can apply for both. Applicants will need to ensure that the projects proposed under each program do not overlap or duplicate activities and there is no 'double dipping'. If you receive any government funding from other sources you also need to declare this on the application form. Your organisation will also need to demonstrate that it can meet its obligations under both programs and that projects are tailored to the differing objectives of the TCF SCP and BIC schemes. Applicants interested in checking their eligibility and understanding the differences between the TCF SCP and BIC schemes are encouraged to read the Customer Guides available online at www.ausindustry.gov.au.

What is a consortium?

A consortium is a formal partnership between two or more organisations set up to deliver a funded project. Under the TCF SCP one organisation will be designated the lead member or lead applicant. Other members will be bound by a formal exchange of letters and a consortium agreement which outlines roles and responsibilities and the nature of the arrangement formed with the lead applicant. It is the lead organisation that is directly bound by the funding agreement with the Commonwealth and which has primary responsibility for the outcomes and conduct of the funded project, including financial management of the grant money.

Do I have to be a 'prescribed entity' to form a consortium under the TCF SCP?

No, eligible TCF businesses may also participate in or lead a consortium under the TCF SCP.

If I am part of a consortium but not the consortium lead do I have to sign anything?

Yes, consortium members are required to send a signed Letter of Intent with the application. The Letter of Intent will outline your role in the project, any funding you are providing, and will also document your formal agreement to a draft consortium agreement (which will be provided by the lead applicant of the consortia). Where relevant, an intellectual property agreement may also need to be negotiated and signed to minimise any conflicts or uncertainties arising from the development of IP.

Can previous TCF SCP recipients apply for funding?

Yes, provided the applicant still meets the eligibility criteria they can apply for funding in a later round. Capacity and capability form part of the merit criteria. As such, grantees that are yet to discharge a project funded in a previous round will need to demonstrate they can meet their current commitments and deliver a new project.

What is the deadline for my application?

The dates of application rounds will be published on the TCF Strategic Capability Program Product information page.

The dates of application rounds will be published on the TCF Strategic Capability Program Product information page at www.ausindustry.gov.au
To apply, you must fill in the TCF Strategic Capability Program grant application form then lodge it with your nearest AusIndustry State/Territory or regional office by the due date. Late applications will not be accepted.

My business is registered under the BIC Scheme. Can I apply under the TCF SCP?

Yes, registration for the BIC Scheme does not prevent you from applying for a TCF SCP grant. If your organisation is or has been in receipt of TCF SIP or BIC funding you are required to record this in your TCF SCP application form. However, you cannot be funded twice for the same or essentially the same activity. Where it can be shown grantees have 'double dipped' – i.e. funded twice for essentially the same activity or project – there are provisions available to the Australian Government to ensure recovery of the grant money.

What is a project?

A project typically involves a group of closely related activities which are aimed at one particular outcome. These would be planned and implemented within a defined timeframe and budget and will be distinct from 'business-as-usual' activities. Your application is required to include a project plan. Please see the TCF SCP Customer Information Guide online for what this plan is expected to cover.

What sort of projects will be funded?

Strategic TCF projects are by definition significant undertakings that aim to deliver sustained strategic benefits for TCF industries at the workplace and enterprise level, and as a whole. To be eligible, projects will need to focus on one or more of the following eligible activities:

  • Innovation, research and design capability;
  • Collaboration, networks and supply chain participation;
  • Accessing market opportunities;
  • New business models and strategic repositioning;
  • High-performance work and management systems;
  • Education and skills; and
  • Environmentally sustainable and ethical practices.

How much cash contribution do I need to make?

The minimum project budget size (comprised of eligible expenditure only) is $500,000, including the Australian Government's contribution of one dollar for every dollar contributed by grantees. This means the minimum contribution of a grantee is $250,000 (i.e. for a project with a total budget of $500,000 in eligible expenditure). Eligible projects with larger budgets are funded using the same 50% share of eligible expenditure. Therefore, a $2,000,000 project will require a $1,000,000 contribution from the grantee.

Do 'in-kind' contributions help me cover my share of the projects costs?

No, grant funding must be matched dollar for dollar in cash; expenditure funded by the grantee using non-cash considerations is not eligible expenditure. Applicants will need to provide documentary evidence of their ability to fund their share of project costs. See the TCF SCP Customer Information Guide.

What expenditure is eligible?

Provided they directly support the funded project, types of expenditure broadly accepted as eligible include:

  • Wages and salaries;
  • Contractors and consultants;
  • Plant and equipment;
  • Prototyping;
  • IP protection and licensing costs (not including costs arising from disputes relating to IP);
  • Research and development costs;
  • Supply chain costs;
  • Education and skill development costs;
  • Change management costs;
  • Collaboration costs;
  • Acquisition (for adaption in the project) of new leading edge technologies costs; and
  • Other expenditure, if directly related to eligible project activities, may be considered eligible.

Are there specific expenditures that are ineligible?

Yes, these include:

  • Costs associated with making an application;
  • Costs of auditing the project;
  • Costs of maintaining bank accounts and other banking related expenditures;
  • Unexplained expenditure;
  • Contingencies; and
  • Cost of IP disputes.

What can be included in "Wages and Salaries"?

Eligible wages and salaries covers the direct labour costs incurred by the grantee from employees directly employed on the agreed project for the time they are employed on the project. An employee is a person who is paid a regular salary or wage out of which regular tax instalment deductions are made. All expenditure claims are reviewed for eligibility. However, total 'On Costs' greater than 30% of base salary will be looked at in detail for reasonableness and eligibility and claims found to be excessive will not be accepted as eligible expenditure by the TCF SCP Assessment Panel.

Can travel and salary costs be included?

Yes, provided salary and travel costs are directly related to eligible project activities and are justified in the context of the project, they can be included. Travel costs will be looked at on a case by case basis and will need to directly relate to eligible project activities, represent value for money, and be necessary to the project, to be considered eligible.

If I have received funding from another government source for my project can I use that as part of the cash contribution?

No, even if the other source of government funding is part of a consortium it cannot be used as part of the cash contribution.

How will I be advised if my application is successful or unsuccessful?

AusIndustry will notify applicants in writing whether or not they have been offered a grant. Where an offer is made, the applicant will have 45 calendar days from the date of the offer to execute a funding agreement with the Commonwealth.

What will happen if my application is successful?

Successful applicants will be sent a letter of offer and a Funding Agreement. The Funding Agreement details the project and the budget, together with the responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the grantee. The Funding Agreement must be entered into within 45 days of being notified of the outcome of the application. Successful projects may be publicly announced by the Minister following completion of the assessment period.

How and when will my grant payments be made and how much money will I receive upfront?

Grant payments will be paid directly into a nominated, non-fungible account (i.e. an account that ensures grant payments and expenditure are transparent and separate from other transactions). The Funding Agreement sets out the payment schedule for a TCF SCP grant, with an initial payment made on signing this agreement. Payments will be milestone-based and the requirements for meeting these milestones will be detailed in the Funding Agreement. The last payment will be made on receipt and acceptance of the final audited project report. Payments schedules will vary from project to project.

What does "milestone-based payments" mean?

The TCF SCP funds large, complex projects and a requirement of the program is that a suitably detailed and robust project plan is in place. Elements of this plan will feature in the Funding Agreement and grant payments will be directly linked to achieving agreed milestones, the timely achievement of which is considered a measure of the project's performance.

Are we expected to share information publicly on our projects?

Whether a commitment to report on the project publicly is seen as appropriate is a matter for applicants. However, as one of the TCF SCP merit criteria is "Dissemination of learning outcomes" the application will need to explicitly describe what information dissemination will be undertaken in the course of meeting this criterion. Applicants can expect to be held to these commitments. Grantees will also need to meet routine standards of corporate governance when managing their funded projects with respect to transparency and accountability.

Successful projects may be publicly announced by the Minister following completion of the assessment period. Prior to each announcement, successful applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application. The Department is also required to publish basic information about your project (project title, brief description, grant amount, etc) on its website within seven days of the funding agreement being executed.

Can my project take longer than one year?

Yes, projects can take longer than a year to complete. However, because of existing funding commitments made in earlier rounds of the TCF SCP, there is little grant funding available in the last year of the program (2014-15).

What help can I get or expect to fill out the application form?

Workshops will be held in State and Territory capitals (subject to demand) for each round to assist applicants to complete their forms. AusIndustry staff will also be available to discuss your application on the phone - please call the hotline on 13 28 46 for assistance. There is also information available online, and applicants are encouraged to read the TCF SCP Customer Information Guide before calling to ask questions.

Can I run elements of my project overseas?

Generally, all activities should be undertaken in Australia. However, where it can be shown that overseas activity is critical to a project, then this will be assessed against the merit criteria. Examples of critical overseas activities may include specific and necessary research and development or projects focused on global supply chain opportunities.

Can I use the grant to pay for imported equipment, products or services that I need for my project?

The program does not specifically preclude expenditure on imported equipment, products or services. However, there would need to be a very clear rationale as to why these purchases were necessary, as generally program activities should be undertaken in Australia unless the overseas activity is critical to the project. The expenditure would need to be eligible and any purchases would need to be in support of a coherent proposal that addresses the program's merit criteria.

My project is about investing in some expensive machinery and the latest technology – is capital expenditure covered by the TCF SCP?

The TCF SCP is focused on building innovative capability and assisting strategic change. To this extent it has not been specifically set up to fund large capital purchases and is not an investment fund targeting the purchase of equipment or technology. However, if an application can address the merit criteria and the project necessarily involves purchasing equipment and or technology in support of the project, then this expenditure is eligible. However it should be emphasised that a project that is only seeking funding for capital equipment, is unlikely to be competitive.

Can we hire a consultant to help with technical issues and or to help project manage the project?

Yes, in many circumstances it will be entirely appropriate to seek expertise or assistance from consultants. Note that eligible expenditure, however, cannot be incurred before a funding agreement is executed. Hence expert fees to assist with developing the project or to prepare the application are ineligible expenditure and cannot be recovered from a grant retrospectively. Also, applicants need to ensure that the costs of experts and consultants are clearly reported in their application forms and that their activities are eligible under the program.

Do we have to sign a funding agreement?

Yes, successful applicants will be sent a letter of offer and a funding agreement. The funding agreement details the project and the budget, together with the responsibilities of AusIndustry and the grantee. The funding agreement must be entered into (i.e. signed by authorised people from both parties) within 45 days of being notified of the outcome of the application. AusIndustry may withdraw the offer, at its discretion, if the funding agreement is not executed within this time.

I manufacture clothing – what does being accredited or seeking accreditation in accordance with the Homeworkers' Code of Practice mean?

Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) is responsible for accrediting clothing manufacturers. To be 'seeking accreditation' you will need to have submitted a current application with ECA. This means you will have paid the relevant annual fee; signed the Code agreement; and either completed and submitted the relevant schedule or supplied a current copy of your Fairwork Australia Board of Reference (BOR) number and supplier list. To be accredited you will have completed ECA's accreditation process and will also be in receipt of a certificate of accreditation. For the purposes of eligibility Knitting mills that make clothes are also considered to be 'clothing manufacturers' and must also be accredited or seeking accreditation to be eligible to apply. While ECA administer the Homeworkers' Code of Practice all applicants that manufacture clothes must meet this eligibility requirement to the satisfaction of the Department.

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