$20m green innovation grants program opens

Brandon How

A $20 million grants program jointly run by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Singapore’s enterprise development agency has launched almost a year after it was announced.

Grants of up to half a million are on offer to applicants through the Go-Green Co-Innovation program, who will be expected to at least match the government-awarded funding.

Australian small to medium-sized enterprises must partner with a Singaporean counterpart to develop “innovative green products and services” towards commercialisation in one of nine priority green sectors.

This includes renewable and clean energy, advanced manufacturing and sustainable materials, energy efficient technology and products, and waste management and the circular economy.

On the Australian side, up to $9.625 million will be available until 2025-26, though there is no guarantee of future rounds. A second round will only be undertaken if the funds aren’t exhausted in the first round.

Singapore project partners will have access to SG$10 million through Enterprise Singapore, the government’s enterprise development agency. There is no limit on the maximum grant Singapore SMEs can be awarded and are only expected to match the Singaporean government’s grant funding at a 70:30 ratio.

Successful applicants will be notified in February 2024 with grant agreements to be executed from May onwards. A public announcement of successful recipients will be made in June 2024. All projects must be completed by April 2026.

Singaporean Trade minister Gan Kim Yong, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and Trade minister Don Farrell in October 2022.

The grant program was originally announced in October 2022 as an initiative through the Singapore-Australia Green Economy Agreement “to accelerate the adoption of low-carbon and green technologies, low-carbon and renewable energy, and decarbonised production processes”, according to DFAT.

At the time, the federal government committed $19.7 million for the implementation of the agreement. The total funding pool for the Go-Green Co-Innovation program was announced in June.

Eligible grant activities include the pilot project development, new technology and service development for commercialisation, or research information sharing and communication services, among others.

While small volume production, prototyping, and minimum viable product development will be funded, the grant cannot be used for mass production activity.

The partner firms will each have to apply for the grant through their respective government agencies which will fund their activities. Australian firms are expected to match the grants awarded to them by the Commonwealth.

The grant approval decision will be made by the DFAT assistant secretary of the Green Economy Branch.

If one of the firms has their grant submission rejected while the other is accepted, the respective government agency could unilaterally fund both project partners, conditional on permission from the other government.

To ensure equity between Australian and Singaporean contributions, neither firm may contribute more than 70 per cent of the total joint project cost.

The program uses the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ definition of an SME which is a firm with less than 200 employees. There are no annual turnover limits.

Consortia applications with non-SME partners are permitted on the Australian side of the process, although the ‘lead organisation’ must still be an SME and it is still mandatory to have a Singapore business partner.

The program launches as the government seeks to deepen economic ties with ASEAN countries. In June, the federal government also committed $105 million to support Vietnam’s uptake of clean energy, clean energy infrastructure, and to attract investment in its critical minerals.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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