Since launching a month ago, the Melbourne Small Technologies Cluster panel has begun the process of issuing technology vouchers to small businesses and has approved 36 suppliers as deliverers of small technology expertise.
Small technology is defined as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, microtechnology and advanced engineering technologies.
The funding, part of the Victorian Action Plan for Small Technologies is aimed at ensuring companies continue to advance their innovations and provide support for local companies to enter international markets.
A government spokeswoman said the panel will provide support to the industry through a voucher based system which will see three levels of vouchers able to be exchanged for access to specialised facilities or advice and expertise from participating service providers on small technologies.
So far it has assessed one feasibility voucher application and one technical voucher application. A further three feasibility applications have been received for assessment. The feasibility and technical voucher roll out will remain open until June 2013.
A government spokeswoman said there has been strong interest in the trial vouchers. The first round of these voucher applications closes on the 11 November, 2010 and the successful applications will be announced in early 2011.
She said data is not available on the number of businesses deploying small technologies.
“However this program will provide insight into Victorian companies currently developing small technologies, and those businesses testing their application,” she said.
Part of the program’s role is to develop a comprehensive approved supplier list of organisations that can help businesses evaluate, adopt or integrate small technologies into their products and processes.
It targets all industries that have the potential to use current and emerging small technologies to improve their products, processes or services.
As the program has only been open for a month, she said it is too early to assess what technologies businesses are interested in.
“Information on the technologies being explored under the vouchers, as well as their applications, will be collected throughout the program for future evaluation. Enabling technologies, in the form of small technologies, biotechnology or ICT have the potential to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of businesses across the economy through improved processes, products and services,” said the spokeswoman.
The spokeswoman said that 80 per cent of Australian manufacturing is carried out in Victoria.
“It is critical that some of these companies evaluate, adopt or integrate small technologies to ensure that they remain competitive nationally and internationally,” she said.