The New South Wales government today launched its $6.7 million Innovate NSW initiative, providing grants and other support to startups.
Through matched grants, Innovate NSW aims to spur collaboration among small to medium enterprises (SMEs), academic researchers, major corporations and end users. The NSW government announced the program in December.
“New South Wales is Australia’s innovation powerhouse,” NSW minister for trade and investment, Andrew Stoner said at a launch event in Sydney this morning. However, when it comes to collaboration the state “still has a considerable way to go,” he said.
Among OECD countries, Australia is number 18 “in terms of the proportion of businesses participating in collaboration,” Stoner said.
“This is absolutely important because collaboration is a proven innovation accelerator.”
Citing a statistic from Australia chief scientist Ian Chubb, Stoner said that “more than 70 per cent of Australian researchers are in higher education or public research agencies, compared to 20 per cent in the US, where most researchers work in business.”
“Put another way, businesses in the US are directly tapping into around 80 per cent of that nation’s research capability, compared to around 30 per cent here in Australia,” he said
Innovate NSW will focus on e-health, advanced manufacturing, energy technology, online and interactive education and transport, logistics and infrastructure. Innovate NSW especially seeks ideas using “enabling technologies” including mobile, cloud, analytics, sensors, advanced materials and biosciences, Stoner said.
Innovate NSW will provide “collaborative solutions” funding of up to 25 per cent of project costs or $100,000, for a consortium to develop a concept using one of the enabling technologies that addresses a barrier to growth or opportunity in a sector of the NSW economy.
The program will provide “minimum viable product” grants providing matched funding up to $15,000 to help companies demonstrate an idea, prove a concept or develop a prototype. It will also provide “TechVouchers” with matched funding up to $15,000 to connect SMEs with an NSW research organisation to solve a technical challenge or test new technology.
In addition, Innovate NSW will run an Australian Technology showcase to help SMEs reach international markets. And it will connect companies with university researchers through two programs, “Easy Access IP” and “Bridging the Gap.”
The initiative is part of the NSW government’s response to a September industry action plan on the digital economy.
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