‘Accelerating Commercialism’ Promises Grants, Advice for Innovators
In this blog we pore through the newly announced details of the ‘Accelerating Commercialisation’ programme and figure out what they mean in the real world so you don’t have to…
When the 2014 Budget was announced, startup stakeholders were vocally perturbed at the loss of eight business funding and support initiatives. In their wake they were promised the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme’ (EIP), a meagre alternative projected to save the government $846.6 million over five years. To many it signalled a lack of confidence in (and perhaps understanding of) Australian startup on the part of the government.
Since then, news out of Canberra has been perplexing positive, contrasting the sentiment of the budget with a series of policy proposals outlined in the ambitious ‘Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda’. Perhaps the promise of the Australian startup scene (something likely highlighted by a sharp increase in investment from overseas) hadn’t completely bypassed those with the power to make a difference.
This week, the federal government announced further details about the ‘Accelerating Commercialisation’ component of the EIP – a like-for-like replacement for the ‘Commercialisation Australia’ programme which had provided startups with access to over $200 million. The ‘Accelerating Commercialisation’ programme is aimed squarely at small to medium businesses and researchers, helping them to commercialise innovative products and services.
Part of that provision is connecting entrepreneurs and researchers with networks that can help to accelerate that process. Startups will be familiar with the setup: it’s reminiscent of accelerators and incubators but the funding comes in the form of grants so there’s no need to sacrifice precious equity in the process. It’s likely to prove a tempting proposition for startups, so what are the specifics?
What’s on offer?
The offer comes in two parts: funding in the form of a grant, and listing in a portfolio that provides access to the a pool of advisors. Those seeking to take advantage of the financial element of the programme will have to accept being listed in the public portfolio, but those who aren’t looking for a fiscal leg-up can restrict their involvement to the portfolio.
Grants can amount to a considerable sum, with a maximum of $250,000 available for researchers and up to $1 million for companies. But the networking element of this programme will likely also prove a real draw for innovators – it promises to connect entrepreneurs with an expert network of advisors who can provide the intellectual element missing from cash-only support.
How can you apply?
If you’re interested in applying for the programme you can do so by competing the long-winded “Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme (EIP) Accelerating Commercialisation Expression of Interest (EOI)” form (phew) at business.gov.au.
Following review, successful applicants will be able to complete the lengthier ‘Accelerated Commercialisation’ application. Unsuccessful applicants may be provided with information on other available grants.
Who’s eligible for funding?
There are, of course, some hoops to jump through before a company or researcher is considered for funding. They mostly relate to limiting the prospect of funding being poured down the drain, but also ensure that any business arising from the commercialised product or service provides value to Australia – an understandable restriction for a government funded programme.
- Funding needs to be matched 50:50 by another investor such as a qualifying venture fund
- This is strictly for those who are pre-commercialisation, those who have made sales and are looking for marketing capital are out of luck
- Version 2.0 (or even 1.1) products are ineligible, the product needs to be pre-MVP
- The first sales of the product or service must be in Australia
- The maximum length of the commercialisation process is two years, and funding will be linked to agreed milestones
Which tech sectors are eligible?
In the legacy ‘Commercialisation Australia’ programme, companies targeting certain tech sectors were excluded from applying. Not so in this iteration. However, there will still be an emphasis on certain sectors with those targeting advanced manufacturing; food and agribusiness; medical tech and pharmaceuticals; mining equipment, tech and services; and oil, gas and energy resources having a better chance of success.
Everything that helps Australian startup to prosper is something to celebrate, and the ‘Accelerating Commercialisation’ programme is no exception. But government support isn’t the only option for startups. Private investment offers deeper pockets, more commitment and longer-lasting support. For support from one of Australia’s most prominent investment funds apply here.