Top 5 tips for writing a Smart Cities funding application

Over the past few years, the Federal Government has had a ‘smart cities’ push, which included a Smart Cities Summit in April 2016, launching Australia's very first Smart Cities Plan and the first round of funding announced late last year.

Round Two of the program has been announced and will be open for applications until 2nd July 2018.

Ironbark Sustainability has worked on funding applications with hundreds of councils around Australia and, from these applications, has kept a keen eye on the lessons, the do’s and don’ts, the patterns, and everything in between.

Here are their top 5 tips on writing a Smart Cities funding application:

  1. Be prepared – Have business cases, audits and relevant reports ready. This shows you are ready, prepared, low-risk and you know what you’re doing. If you’re including business cases or feasibility studies dated in the month before a funding application is due, this screams “risk” and “we are rushing things” to the funder.
  2. Get your marketing in order – Learn the basics of marketing or talk to people at your council who know or understand the basics. While the substance of your proposal is of course key, also consider branding, the latest technology, social marketing and who your target audience is. Keep in mind your point of differentiation to make your application and project stand out from the crowd.
  3. Have a water-tight project plan – For Smart Cities and Suburbs program, every application seeking more than $1 million must have an attached project plan and budget. We’d suggest including a project plan for every application.
  4. Review, review, review – Review your application, project plans, all of it! We’ve reviewed unsuccessful applications for councils in the past where the scope of works seemed reasonable and worthwhile and the accompanying audit reports and background information were from a reputable provider. However, it was littered with basic errors throughout.
  5. Know the rules – Make sure you’re clear on the eligibility and merit criteria. See if you can ascertain the nuances behind the language, and the terms that keep coming up in the funding guidelines and other related communications.

Ironbark Sustainability has put together more tips, as well as background and an update on the Smart Cities and Suburbs program, and an excel tool to search through the program’s round one winners. These can be accessed on their website.