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Coles Nurture Fund Guidelines

Two people shaking hands in a field.

    1. Background

    Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd (Coles) has launched an exciting initiative to assist existing small to medium Australian producers, farmers and manufacturers to innovate and grow their business.

    Coles has announced the Coles Nurture Fund (CNF), and will allocate $50 million over five years intended to encourage suppliers and potential suppliers to develop new market-leading products, technologies, systems and processes.

    Through the CNF, existing small-to-medium businesses may apply for funding to enable them to take the next step in creating value for business and customers.

    Coles will allocate $10 million a year to fund the CNF for the next five years, comprising $5 million per annum allocated for grants and another $5 million per annum allocated for interest-free loans. The maximum single grant of funds or loan under the CNF is $500,000.

    Innovation is one of the primary drivers of competitiveness. Whether improving or developing new technologies for delivery systems, state-of-the-art refrigeration and lighting to generate better environmental outcomes, improved product quality in the farm sector or greater scale production in processed foods, the CNF seeks to support small to medium Australian businesses that want to improve existing services or products and create new systems or processes.

    Smart, energetic and agile small businesses can be a launch-pad for great product innovation. Modest financial support can be the difference in getting great ideas up and running.

    Coles is proud to continue supporting small to medium Australian producers, farmers and manufacturers through funding allocations under the CNF.

    2. Applications

    2.1 CNF Application Forms

    Application forms for the Coles Nurture Fund are available at www.supplierportal.coles.com.au or www.coles.com.au/nurturefund

    2.2 Required Information

    So that Coles is in a position to properly and fairly evaluate a CNF grant or interest free loan application, the Applicant must provide detailed and true information on the proposed project for which CNF funding is sought.

    This information would include but is not limited to, recent financial records and key governance and management systems of the Applicant’s business. The specifications for the information required by Coles for the purposes of evaluating a CNF Application are detailed in the CNF Application Form.

    Applications should also provide material to demonstrate the potential value of the project across several key measures, including but not limited to commercial potential, adoption of innovative technology, economic impact, and level of strategic alignment with the food and grocery sector in areas such as fresh produce, food processing, grocery, energy efficiency, logistics/transport, IT and packaging. Applicants will also be asked to demonstrate where they can achieve productivity improvements and capture new market opportunities through additional investment.

    2.3 Possible questions that may be asked during the CNF Application and Evaluation Process

    Some of the questions the Applicant may be required to answer during the CNF application and evaluation process include but are not limited to:

    • Why is the Applicant applying for a grant of funds or interest-free loan from the CNF?
    • How will the grant or interest free loan from the CNF be used by the Applicant?
    • What assets may need to be purchased, and what entities would supply goods and services required by the project?
    • What business debt does the Applicant have, and who are the Applicant’s creditors?
    • Who are the members of the Applicant’s management team?
    • Is the proposal market-ready?

    3. Eligibility criteria

    3.1 Eligibility

    To be eligible for funding from the CNF Applicants must:

    1. have a turnover that is less than $25,000,000 per annum;
    2. employ no more than 50 full time employees (excluding casual seasonal labour);
    3. have a registered Australian Business Number;
    4. be an incorporated Australian entity registered for GST;
    5. have been trading for more than two years;
    6. provide financial statements for a minimum of the previous two financial years;
    7. provide a funding declaration from an external accountant on the accountant’s company letterhead confirming ability to fund applicant’s share of project costs and solvency.

    To be eligible to apply for the Coles Nurture Fund all of the above criteria must be met.

    Applicants that have already secured co-investments for their project from other entities will be considered.

    However, funds cannot be allocated for general operational expenses including rent, utilities, marketing or remuneration for existing staff.

    Nor can funds be used as security to obtain, or comply with, any form of loan, credit, payment or other interest or for the preparation of, or in the course of, any litigation.

    4. Indicative timing and process

    4.1 Process

    The Applicant should complete its CNF Grant or Loan Application Form online and submit it via email to the Coles Nurture Fund Inbox: nurturefund@coles.com.au. Attachments must be included with the Application Form in one single PDF document. Applications via drop box are unable to be accessed.

    Receipt of applications will be acknowledged by email.

    Coles will evaluate the CNF Grant or Loan Application in accordance with the evaluation criteria and objectives of the Coles Nurture Fund. CNF Grant or Loan Applications will be shortlisted and these will be reviewed by the executive evaluation panel, assisted by independent industry advice where required.

    4.2 Coles Nurture Fund Application timelines

    It is anticipated that Coles will be in a position to make its second round of funding available from the CNF in the first half of calendar year 2016.

    4.3 Coles Nurture Fund and maximum funding amount

    Coles will, through the CNF, allocate a total of $10,000,000 a year. Of this, $5,000,000 will be available each year for grants; $5,000,000 for interest-free loans.

    The maximum single allocation of funds under the CNF is $500,000.

    Applicants are able to apply for a grant or interest-free loan. Grants and interest-free loans will be paid in instalments. Coles will tailor the payment terms for grants and interest-free loans to meet individual Applicant needs. These arrangements, along with repayment terms for loans, will be discussed with successful applicants.

    4.4 Executive evaluation

    A panel of Coles Directors (or their respective nominees) will evaluate Applications in accordance with the evaluation criteria and upon competitive, merit-based principles. The panel that evaluates the CNF Applications may also be assisted by independent industry advisors and consultants, as reasonably required by Coles for the purposes of completing evaluations.

    4.5 Meetings with Coles

    As a part of the CNF evaluation process, Coles may require CNF Applicants to attend meetings as reasonably required by Coles. If Coles requires the Applicant to attend any meetings then Coles will provide the Applicant with reasonable notice.

    5. Terms and conditions

    5.1 Reservation of Coles rights

    Coles may in its absolute discretion:

    • request clarification or further information in relation to a CNF Application;
    • accept or reject any CNF Application Form submitted after the closing date;
    • accept or reject the whole or part of any CNF Application Form to the extent, in the case of part acceptance, that part of the CNF Application is capable of partial acceptance and whether it is an option included in the CNF Application or otherwise;
    • accept or reject:
      1. the lowest amount of funding sought in a CNF Application;
      2. the best CNF Application; or
      3. any CNF Application;
    • consider or accept, or refuse to consider or accept, any non-conforming CNF Application;
    • vary the CNF Application process at any time in which case Coles will provide the Applicant with reasonable notice to this effect;
    • at any time terminate the CNF Application process or suspend any part of the process with respect to any Applicant;
    • vary the eligibility criteria, in which case Coles will provide applicants with reasonable notice to this effect; and
    • vary the total aggregate amount allocated to the CNF in any year.

     

    Applicants have no claim against Coles in connection with the exercise or the failure to exercise any of the rights of Coles.

    5.2 No collusion

    The Applicant must not engage in collusion, anti-competitive conduct or any similar conduct with another person involved with a competing CNF Application. If Coles reasonably believes there has been a failure by the Applicant to comply with this clause, Coles may exclude the Applicant from further participation in the CNF Application process without any claim for compensation or other liability the Applicant may allege against Coles.

    5.3 Licence to Coles and Disclosure Rights

    The Applicant grants Coles and its Related Bodies Corporate an irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty free licence to use and reproduce and modify the whole or any part of a CNF Application or any other documentation or information provided by the Applicant as part of the CNF Application process, only for the purposes of evaluating the CNF Application Forms, and making a grant of funds or loan from the CNF pursuant to a CNF Funding Agreement.

    5.4 CNF Grant/Loan Agreements

    Coles may in its discretion at any time after the closing time on the closing date select any CNF Applicant as a preferred Applicant to receive a grant of funds or interest free loan from the CNF.

    Coles will not be seeking equity in any entity that receives a grant of funds or interest free loan from the CNF. However, to receive funding from the CNF, Applicants must first enter into a CNF Grant/Loan Agreement with Coles.

    A copy of the CNF Grant/Loan Agreement can be found at www.supplierportal.coles.com.au or www.coles.com.au/nurturefund.

    The Applicant acknowledges and agrees that if the Applicant is not selected to negotiate a CNF Grant/Loan Agreement with Coles, the Applicant will not have any recourse against Coles in relation to Coles’ decision to select another Applicant or any other person with whom to sign a CNF Grant or Loan Agreement.

    5.5 Confidentiality of CNF Applications

    Coles will not disclose any submitted CNF Application Form to any person other than to the employees, consultants and advisors of Coles and Wesfarmers Limited and their Related Bodies Corporate who require access to the submitted CNF Application Forms for the purposes of evaluating the CNF Application Forms and making a grant of funds or loan from the CNF.

    5.6 Coles decisions are confidential

    The Applicant must not enquire into the basis of any decision or grant of funds or loan made by Coles arising out of or in connection with the CNF Application evaluation process.

    5.7 Coles not liable

    To the extent permitted by law, Coles and its Related Bodies Corporate and their respective directors, officers, employees and consultants are not and will not be under any liability, whether arising from negligence or otherwise, for any representation contained in or any omission from the CNF Applicant Form or for any error, inaccuracy, incompleteness or other defect in the CNF Application Form or this CNF Guide for Applicants.

    5.8 Applicants to seek independent advice

    The receipt of funding from the CNF may have taxation and legal implications for Applicants. Coles recommends that all Applicants obtain independent GST, taxation and legal advice in relation to the rights and obligations that may arise as a result of entering into a Funding Agreement with Coles.

  

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