Twenty-nine companies, entrepreneurs and inventors will share in more than $13 million to commercialise their technologies as part of Commercialisation Australia.
Funded by the Federal Government, Commercialisation Australia is a merit-based, competitive assistance program aimed at taking products, processes and services to market.
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Innovation Minister Kim Carr announced the new funding at the 2011 AusBiotech CEO Forum, using the opportunity to highlight the Government’s commitment to the program.
“The Gillard Labor Government… [is] allocating $278 million over five years to the program. Commercialisation Australia will receive $82 million annually thereafter,” Carr said.
Projects that will benefit from the latest round of funding include an influenza test kit for pandemics, a bioherbicide to counter an invasive weed, and a livestock pest control system.
Program participants receive one of four grants:
- Funding of up to $50,000 to pay for specialist advice and services, helping to build the skills, knowledge and connections required to commercialise intellectual property.
- Funding up to $200,000 over two years to assist with the recruitment of a CEO or other executive.
- Proof of concept grants of $50,000 to $250,000 to test the commercial viability of a new product, process or service.
- Early stage commercialisation repayable grants of $250,000 to $2 million to develop a new product, process or service to the stage where it can be taken to market.
Doron Ben-Meir, chief executive of Commercialisation Australia, says each participant is also assigned a case manager for the duration of their time in the program, which is typically up to two years.
“Each participant will have defined a project as part of the application process. The case manager is then formally assigned to them and they work with that case manager to execute their project,” Ben-Meir says.
“Case managers are chosen based on their business-building credentials. A number of them are successful entrepreneurs that have been through the process themselves.”
“A case manager may have particular skills that are highly complementary [to a company] and the extent of their assistance can be quite deep.”
Ben-Meir says case managers are in no way forced upon participants, but are simply there to provide assistance where is it needed.
According to Ben-Meir, the range of participants is incredibly diverse, although there is a leaning towards information and communications technology, and bio and agribusinesses.
“At the moment, 36% of our participants are in ICT and 30% are in bio and agribusiness combined. 24% are in manufacturing or engineering, and around 4% are in clean tech,” he says.
Ben-Meir says while international expansion is the ultimate goal for most participants, there are a number that could be quite successful locally.
“Our aim is to get Australian IT and inventiveness commercialised. If it’s a local business that makes good money, that’s fine,” he says.
“The main test is viability, not globalisation, but if they can take on the world we’d love it.”