CSIRO investment to drive R&D for SMEs

Thursday, 04 April, 2024

CSIRO investment to drive R&D for SMEs

CSIRO has announced a $20 million investment to provide small to medium enterprises (SMEs) with greater access to vital research and development (R&D) opportunities to accelerate their growth. The funding will allow CSIRO’s SME Connect team to support up to 750 SMEs through a range of programs and initiatives that provide facilitation, training, dollar-matched funding and support to startups and SMEs seeking to engage in company-led research projects.

SMEs constitute 99.8% of Australian businesses, contributing to more than half of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 68% of the private sector workforce. As noted by CSIRO’s Chief Executive, Dr Doug Hilton, “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.

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

CSIRO’s SME Connect team has supported startups and SMEs across a broad range of industry sectors, including technology, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, energy and health, and biosecurity. SME Connect Director Simon Hanson said this latest investment helps boost Australian innovation by providing practical pathways for SMEs to leverage the expertise and facilities of the national science agency.

“Our research has shown that strong collaboration between industry and the research sector is crucial for the longevity and success of Australian SMEs,” Hanson 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.”

Goterra, an award-winning startup based in Canberra, is one of the success stories emerging from SME Connect’s flagship program, CSIRO Kick-Start. As explained by founder Olympia Yarger, Goterra developed an innovative waste management system that utilises insects to process food waste, resulting in a 97% reduction of greenhouse gases.

“CSIRO’s Kick-Start program connected us with leading scientists who not only provided world-class research capabilities to some of our most complex problems but were also pivotal in supporting our exploration of business opportunities, alternative technological advancements and industry connections,” Yarger said.

CSIRO’s SME Connect delivers the following programs and initiatives: CSIRO Kick-Start, Innovate to Grow, Generation STEM Links, RISE Accelerator and the Collaboration Readiness Levels tool. To find the right R&D program for your SME, visit https://www.csiro.au/en/work-with-us/funding-programs/SME.

Image credit: iStock.com/Andrii Yalanskyi

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