Innovation nation

29 March, 2017

Twenty small and medium businesses will share in more than $1.8 million of federal funding to develop innovative solutions to solve public sector challenges.

They were announced this month as the first round of winners of the Business Research and Innovation Initiative, which is a Federal Government push to put innovation front of mind for SMEs.

Some of the issues the businesses will tackle include sharing information nationally to ensure child safety; digitally enabling community engagement in policy and program design; and improving transparency and reliability of water market information.

Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Arthur Sinodinos says they received 180 applications for feasibility study grants for the first round of the BRII, which demonstrates the innovative ecosystem of Australia’s SMEs is well placed to develop bright ideas to drive the country’s economy and create jobs and growth in Australia.

“The BRII provides opportunities for SMEs to develop innovative products and services with genuine commercial potential,” he says.

“SMEs with the most promising ideas and products arising from these 20 initial grants may be eligible for a further grant of up to $1 million each.

“This would be to develop a prototype or proof of concept of their solution with government having the option of being the first customer.”

Mr Sinodinos says BRII is based on overseas programs which have resulted in global success stories like security firm Symantec and telecommunications equipment and semiconductor maker Qualcomm.

The Minister will announce the next round soon.

In addition to innovation at home, the Federal Government is also hoping to help businesses collaborate with China through its formal ‘Dialogue on Innovation’ with the Asian nation. 

Mr Sinodinos and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last week to officially establish the dialogue between Australia and China.

“The dialogue will enable the exchange of ideas between representatives from government agencies, business and the research sector,” Sinodinos says.

“I am also pleased that Australia and China will each contribute up to $6 million over three years to the next round of the Joint Research Centres, under the Australia-China Science and Research Fund (ACSRF).

“The funding will focus on the priority areas of advanced manufacturing, medical technologies and pharmaceuticals, and resources and energy.”