Commercialisation Australia pledges $13m to innovators

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.

 

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.”

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