CSIRO targets startups for AI commercialisation program

Brandon How

A new AI competition for startups has been launched by the CSIRO’s National AI Centre in collaboration with Google Cloud and co-working space Stone and Chalk.

Over three months startups will participate in ‘Australia’s AI Sprint’, which will provides access to tools, resources and expert support to help bring their AI-powered ideas into demonstration-ready prototypes that address issues of national concern.

The winning participant will be selected on the commercial viability of their ideas and will receive $300,000 worth of research and development (R&D) support. Second and third place will be awarded $100,000, respectively.

CSIRO’s SME Connect Team will match the winners with an Australian research institution based on the type of AI technology being developed, the type of support required and the team’s location.

During stage one, participant startups and entrepreneurs will be expected to develop demonstration-ready prototypes.

Google Cloud will provide live and on-demand AI training, access to expert mentors, technical advisory support and cloud platform credits.

At the end of stage one, a judging panel will determine which participants make it to stage two and a subsequent demo day, presenting their prototypes to stakeholders. Additional support and resources will be made available as the participants prepare for the demo day.

Stage one is scheduled to start on April 3, while stage two gets underway on May 13. Prospective participants can apply here.

“The initiative provides startups and entrepreneurs with the end-to-end support needed to refine their innovations, gain visibility, and bring their AI solutions to market. This is the springboard opportunity to transform AI concepts into real-world impact,” the CSIRO’s National AI Centre director Stela Solar said.

According to a CSIRO AI ecosystem report released in December, there are currently 544 companies “making and selling AI products and services” that are headquartered in Australia, of which 204 were opened in the past five years alone. However, it notes that Australia lags global competitors in commercialisation.

Last week, following the announcement of a new 12-person Artificial Intelligence Expert Group tasked with developing mandatory guardrails for artificial intelligence, Industry and Science minister Ed Husic said he was “very open to people’s input and advice” on the provision of additional government support for the development of sovereign AI capabilities.

This is in contrast to arguments made at the start of the month in a report by the Productivity Commission. The federal government think tank argued that Australia is not well positioned to produce its own advanced artificial intelligence models and doubts the productivity benefits of “activist government ‘sponsorship’” across the AI value chain.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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