Advance Australia’s trade, investment and education promotion interests through information, advice and services to business, the education sector and governments.
Programme 1.3: Trade development schemes—Asian Business Engagment Plan
Provide member-based business organisations with support to develop new initiatives to strengthen business linkages between Australia and Asia, and harness commercial opportunities in Asia for small to medium-sized Australian businesses.
Deliverables and key performance indicators
Administration of the Asian Business Engagement Plan, providing partial reimbursement for expenditure on eligible business engagement activities.
Number of grant applications.
|The number of grant applications received in 2013–14 was 95 —see page 99.|
|Number of grant recipients.||The number of grant recipients in 2013–14 was 27 —see page 99.|
Note: The Asian Century Business Engagement Plan was renamed the Asian Business Engagement Plan in December 2013.
Administering the Asian Business Engagement Plan
The Asian Business Engagement Plan is an annual, merit-based, competitive grants programme administered by Austrade. The programme aims to assist member-based business organisations and through them, small and medium-sized enterprises, to harness the opportunities emerging in the Asian region.
The key goals of the Asian Business Engagement Plan are to leverage or expand the capability of member-based business groups to:
- assist Australian firms to more effectively access in-market business networks and develop new relationships with potential business contacts and partners in Asian countries
- identify and secure more opportunities for Australian firms to compete and succeed in regional value chains
- enhance and strengthen business links between Australia and Asia
- influence corporate Australia to initiate closer engagement with Asia
- reinforce and further raise the profile of Australian business capability in the region
- increase awareness and understanding of Australia in Asia, and of Asia in Australia.
The plan funds up to 50 per cent of the total cost of an eligible project, with the remaining 50 per cent provided by the applicant. Two streams of funding are available:
- Stream A—for one-year projects ranging in cost from $20,000 to $100,000
- Steam B—for projects of one to three years’ duration, ranging in cost from $100,000 to $300,000.
The Asian Business Engagement Plan is in its second year, and interest from Australian member-based business organisations remains high. In the lead-up to the 2014–15 grant round, Austrade conducted seven direct marketing campaigns; promoted the programme through its newsletter, Export Update; provided access to information through a dedicated web page; and held information sessions in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Organisations that could not attend the information sessions in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane were provided with access to a webinar information session, which was recorded and placed on the Austrade website. There was also a dedicated phone line and email account that gave organisations direct access to the Asian Business Engagement Plan secretariat.
2014–15 grant round
In February and March 2014, member-based business organisations were invited to submit expressions of interest in grants for the following year. They were then notified of their eligibility and provided with feedback on their project proposal before proceeding with a full application. Seventy-nine expressions of interest were received.
Applications for the 2014–15 grant round were open in March and April 2014. A total of 68 applications were received from a wide range of Australian member-based business organisations, located in both Australia and Asian markets.
The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, Minister for Trade and Investment, announced that funding was allocated to 12 national bodies, three state and territory organisations, one regional organisation and two Australian offshore organisations. They represented a diverse range of sectors, including food and agribusiness, infrastructure, composites, automotive, textiles, education and training, services, medical devices, and sports medicine and physiotherapy. The list of grant recipients can be found at www.austrade.gov.au/abe.
2013–14 grant round—progress of grant recipients’ projects
In the 2013–14 grant round, 95 applications were received. Eighteen Stream A grants and nine Stream B grants were awarded. All grant recipients were offered assistance from Austrade’s offshore network to help deliver their projects.
While the majority of Stream B grant projects will not be completed until 30 June 2016, Stream A projects concluded on 30 June 2014. These grant recipients are currently reviewing their project outcomes and implementing strategies to maximise the opportunities arising from the work undertaken through their grants. These grant projects varied widely in focus, including internships, mentoring, online platforms and portals, new business models to enhance market access, strategic partnerships, business-matching programmes, mechanisms to protect intellectual property, industry analysis, capability development, and strategies to more effectively access and use global value chains.
AustCham Singapore’s Access Asia project
Access Asia is an online platform for knowledge-sharing by the Australian business community operating in Asia. It was established by AustCham Singapore with the support of an Asian Business Engagement Plan grant.
The website was developed to enhance the association’s offering to members by improving connectivity and access to its information, and providing a unique first port of call for Australian businesses as they develop markets in Singapore and the Asian region more broadly.
The platform, with enhanced multimedia-sharing technological capabilities, includes more than 50 text and video-based articles following four key themes—‘The Singapore story’, ‘Your Asian strategy’, ‘Industry insights’ and ‘Your Australian connection’.
These themes were created for companies requiring industry- and country-specific knowledge, as well as a general overview of business confidence, lessons learned and operational tips that cut across a broad range of countries and sectors.
AustCham noted that its members have responded positively to being asked to help with creating content on the site since it gives them the opportunity to share their experience and knowledge of doing business in the region. Through the development of the website, AustCham was able to take advantage of the bourgeoning opportunities as Australian businesses increase their presence in Asia.
Austmine’s Austral-Asia Smart Mining Network
Austmine is the peak industry association of the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector. It received a grant under the Asian Business Engagement Plan to establish the Austral-Asia Smart Mining Network. The aim of the network is to link small and medium-sized METS firms with mining opportunities and contacts in Asia.
Christine Gibbs Stewart, the network’s project manager said, ‘We knew the interest in this project would be high for our members and the METS sector in general, as mining investment in Asia is growing’.
‘The Australian METS sector is very active in Asia, and we know there are significant barriers to doing business in the region. One of the key problems faced by Austmine members, particularly smaller companies, is accessing reliable and accurate data on mining opportunities’, she continued.
‘The Asian Business Engagement Plan grant has enabled Austmine to develop an Asian mining projects database, which contains information on more than 3,000 mining projects in the region. Data for the Smart Mining Network has been put together in partnership with a leading market research firm, and it is downloadable and searchable, providing a range of information for planning and business development purposes’, Christine said.