Economic Accelerator seed grants open to support research translation

Brandon How

$10 million in grants funding is now available to researchers looking to commercialise their work through Australia’s Economic Accelerator initiative.

The seed grants, which opened to applications on Monday, will support “projects seeking to confirm proof-of-concept on research ideas pursuing a commercial outcome”, Education minister Jason Clare said.

Funding is targeting four priority areas: renewable and low-emission technology, medical science, resources, and agriculture, and forestry and fisheries. Project impact can also be demonstrated by applicants by identifying “alignment with a National Reconstruction Fund priority,” according to the program guidelines.

Education minister Jason Clare. Image: ARC

The Australia’s Economic Accelerator (AEA) program was initially announced by the previous Coalition government and was part of a broader $2 billion Research Commercialisation Action Plan.

Enabling legislation, drafted by the Coalition, to grant the Education minister the power to issue grants for industry-led postgraduate research and to fund research with commercialisation potential is currently before the House of Representative and is expected to be debated this week.

Through two tranches, grants of up to $500,000 will be awarded to projects with commercialisation potential over 12 months. The second tranche will open in late-March. Only a maximum of 10 per cent of expenditure can be spent on overseas activities.

The projects must have reached technology readiness level three, four, or five, according to the grant guidelines. These levels correspond to varying levels of testing or validation.

Minister Clare said that the government is proud of the work undertaken at Australian universities.

“Our foundational research is amongst the best in the world. But we have a gap when it comes to getting that world-class research to the stage where it can be translated into practical and commercial applications,” he said.

“The grants will provide entrepreneurs in higher education research with an opportunity to test their idea with experts from across the innovation system.

“Providing grants will help reduce the risk, creating more of an incentive for researchers, industry and investors to work together to test innovative new ideas at proof-of-concept.”

The AEA seed grants initiative will be followed by the Ignite Grants program and the Innovate program, both to open in the second half of 2023.

Ignite will also award grants of up to $500,000 over 12 months, while Innovate will provide up to $5 million in funding for proof-of-scale projects to transition to markets alongside industry partners.

Another initiative recently launched under the research commercialisation package is the $296 million Increase Workforce Mobility initiative, which includes adding 1,300 industry PhDs over 10 years.

Program guidelines for the industry PhDs program were released in December. Applications are expected to open in early 2023 ahead of the July 1 commencement date.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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