Outgoing STA CEO praises Industry Growth Program

Wednesday, 29 November, 2023

Outgoing STA CEO praises Industry Growth Program

Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic and Minister for Small Business Julie Collins have officially launched the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Program. The $392 million program aims to support innovative startups and small businesses to scale their operations with economy-boosting R&D, by providing matched grant funding of up to $5 million.

The launch of the program takes place as a new report from Industry Innovation and Science Australia (IISA) finds that businesses in Australia often face barriers in scaling up, recommending that the government identifies businesses with the need and risk appetite to innovate and deliver novel products and services. The report also details ways Australia can translate its world-class research performance into commercialisation outcomes, helping to grow a diverse economy while delivering well-paid jobs.

“While we outperform in the creation of startups and small businesses against other OECD countries, our industry structure is overly skewed to small businesses with less than 20 employees. It’s hard to compete when you are small,” said IISA Chair Andrew Stevens.

“The outcome we need right now is the scaling of small businesses into medium-sized businesses. This will build sovereign capability and economic complexity in Australia.”

With this in mind, the Industry Growth Program includes the following:

  • The delivery of advisory services by a national network of expert business growth and commercialisation advisers that will provide guidance on seeking investment, market testing, business models and networking.
  • The delivery of matched grant funding ranging from $50,000 to $5 million to eligible startups and innovative SMEs.

Supporting projects under National Reconstruction Fund priority areas, the program should help expand the pipeline of businesses working to transform and diversify Australia’s economy. Businesses can apply for expert advice now by visiting https://business.gov.au/grants-and-programs/industry-growth-program, with grant funding opening in early 2024.

“The Industry Growth Program is designed to commercialise great ideas and know-how, build stronger Australian businesses, and put them on a pathway for potential support by the National Reconstruction Fund,” Husic said.

“Our government knows Australians want our country to be a nation that makes things, and we are determined to make that happen.”

Science & Technology Australia (STA) CEO Misha Schubert has described the Industry Growth Program as “a powerful spur for more and better R&D in Australia” — one which can “turn more great Australian ideas and innovations into the products, services and jobs of tomorrow”.

“STA has long advocated for greater support to help outstanding Australian research to bridge the ‘valley of death’ to commercialisation and to connect up existing programs to deliver mass and momentum,” Schubert said.

“This program will powerfully advance that goal — and be a powerful complement to Science & Technology Australia’s bold vision of training Australia’s first entire generation at scale of ‘bench-to-boardroom’ scientist-entrepreneurs.”

Schubert’s comments come one week after she formally announced her resignation as STA CEO, beginning in the new year, to take up another CEO opportunity. A formal recruitment process to appoint the next CEO will begin in the coming weeks.

“In her four years as CEO, Misha has taken STA to new heights as an influential policy advocacy voice that is highly respected across the breadth of the Parliament and policymaking,” said STA President Professor Mark Hutchinson.

“She has doubled STA’s membership and revenue, diversified its income streams and strengthened its financial security, developed crucial Indigenous partnerships with deep trust and reciprocity, and built and nurtured an inspiring staff team of talented, hard-working stars.”

Schubert said it has been a “constant inspiration to serve in this pivotal leadership role for Australia’s science and technology sectors, and to have the privilege of speaking with and for the nation’s science and technology leaders, experts and entrepreneurs every day”.

“Australia’s remarkable scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians are crucial to our country’s future, its prosperity and social cohesion — and it has been such a privilege to serve them and our nation in this role,” she said.

Image credit: iStock.com/Andrii Yalanskyi

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