CSIRO pledges $20m to boost access to R&D opps for SMEs

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has committed $20 million to invest in small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and hand them greater access to research and development (R&D) opportunities.

The funding, dedicated to CSIRO’s SME Connect initiative, will offer 750 SMEs looking to engage in research projects more support through programs bridging gaps to provide training, access to research experts, proper facilities and dollar-matched funding.

One of the programs benefitting from the investment is CSIRO Kick-Start, which commenced in 2017 and has since spearheaded 280 company-led R&D projects, with alumni companies collectively market valued at over $2 billion.

“With today’s announcement, up to 750 more small businesses will get their chance to work with CSIRO to commercialise their ideas,” Hon. Ed Husic, Minister for Industry and Science, said.

“We’re a pro-industry, pro-manufacturing, pro-jobs government which is really important for making these sorts of investments.

“Our Future Made in Australian plan, whether it’s our $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund or our $392 Industry Growth Program, means there’s support for businesses big and small to make more things here.”

The programs are open for SMEs across several sectors, including technology, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, energy and health and biosecurity.

“SMEs are crucial drivers of Australia’s future and so often the engine room of new, innovative thinking and solutions to many of the challenges our society faces,” Dr Doug Hilton, CSIRO’s Chief Executive, said.

“CSIRO’s fundamental role as the national science agency is to create benefits for Australia and that includes helping to drive SME’s productivity, sustainability and growth through greater access to R&D opportunities and conducting research to support a more resilient and diverse economy.

“CSIRO is committed to its role within the innovation ecosystem of supporting SMEs in embracing research and providing access to the resources, knowledge, and support they need to flourish.”

The latest data confirms SMEs account for 99.8 per cent of Australian businesses, contribute to more than half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employ 68 per cent of the private sector workforce.

“Our research has shown that strong collaboration between industry and the research sector is crucial for the longevity and success of Australian SMEs,” Simon Hanson, Director CSIRO’s SME Connect, said.

“This funding injection enables us to encourage and support initiatives aimed at bridging this gap, fostering meaningful collaborations between businesses and academia, we aim to facilitate innovation and growth within the SME ecosystem.

“We are dedicated to proactively supporting SMEs nationwide by leveraging CSIRO’s extensive research capabilities and expertise, empowering them to commercialise and integrate cutting-edge innovations into their operations.”