CSIRO launches $19m Aus-India circular economy accelerator

Brandon How

The CSIRO on Tuesday revealed details on its new accelerator program for late-stage startups and small to medium-sized enterprises with innovative circular economy technologies.

The national science agency is running it in a co-funded partnership with Indian government’s flagship innovation program to support cross-border expansion opportunities between the nations. It is expected to be valued at around $19 million over the lifetime of the program.

The new India Australia Rapid Innovation and Startup Expansion (RISE) Accelerator will welcome its first cohort next year and run until June 2026 in partnership with the Indian government agency NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission.

It is offering grants up to $75,000 and travel opportunities to participants over a nine-month program.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September. Image: X

Businesses must be developing technology solutions that meet one of four circular economy challenge statements.

Relevant solutions are expected to include new or reimagined products that reduce waste, digital or data driven innovations that reduce inputs, or advanced material design, engineering and manufacturing.

RISE was first announced in March as the India-Australia Innovation and Technology Challenge following the first Australia-India Annual Summit held across multiple Indian cities.

The Australian federal government has committed $9.5 million to the program. The Indian government has matched the Australian government’s contributions to the first round of the program through co-investment and in-kind contributions. It is also expected to match contributions in the remaining two rounds although it has yet to formally do so.

Australian businesses looking to participate must have an annual turnover less than $20 million a year and must have developed their technology to at least technology readiness level 7, which means a prototype has been demonstrated at a pilot level.

Companies with solutions at technology level readiness 5 or 6 – proven in laboratory testing conditions – will be considered if there is a clear “potential to rapidly advance through expansion into India or Australia”, according to the eligibility criteria.

CSIRO’s RISE Accelerator program director Tamara Ogilvie said the main objective is to support startups with mature technologies expand in India and Australia.

“Over the nine-month RISE Accelerator program, we’ll help startups navigate early steps in a new region, fast-track connections to the right partners, customers and talent, and build credibility to succeed in international markets,” Ms Ogilvie said.

“For the first round of RISE Accelerator, we’re calling for startups and SMEs developing innovative business models, technologies, and or resource ingenuity to support India’s and Australia’s transition to a circular economy.”

The Atal Innovation Mission’s RISE Accelerator lead Pramit Dash said the program would support businesses to validate and adapt their technology and research overseas.

“This is a real opportunity for startups from Australia and India to work with industry and researchers in their target market,” Mr Dash said.

“As well as developing cultural literacy, participants will develop meaningful bilateral industry and research collaborations.”

The circular economy push builds on several other new partnerships with India on innovation.

Australia’s $20.7 million International Space Investment India grants program, jointly administered by the Australian Space Agency and the Department of Industry, Science, and Resources, expected to award funding by the end of the year.

There is also the ongoing Australia-India strategic research fund, first launched in 2006, which offers grants of up to $1 million across five priorities for funding applications made jointly between Australian and Indian partners.

Applications to the RISE program close on January 7, 2024.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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